We all have that one friend. You know, the one who announces they are wrapping up their holiday shopping right around Labor Day.
Maybe that annoys you, or maybe that sends a chill up your spine as you realize how little time you have left to get things done. Start getting ready for the “XX days till Christmas” announcements!
By the way, 116 days until Christmas come September 1st, sorry.
One thing rings true though; even though the days are still warm, the holidays aren’t far off. You can almost smell the pumpkin spiced “everything” coming And the real chill you feel may be the cold temperatures as they find their way into your home, fattening your heating bills and putting a chill on the festivities.
About 15-20% of the heating costs of the average American household are lost because of leaks throughout the home. That sends chills up my spine for sure! You wonder how can you save money on heating costs this fall.
You can begin with having your furnace professionally serviced prior to the beginning of the fall season. Not only will you get an experts’ evaluation of your unit, but you may have them give your home a quick once over to determine if you’ve got some trouble areas that are costing you.
What else can you do?
Fortunately for you, we’ve put together a list of the top ways you can help save on your heating costs by identifying places where your energy funds may literally slip through the cracks in your home.
Cracks in the walls
You likely don’t live in a home where you can see sunlight through the walls, but on average 38% of your home’s heat loss is through cracks in walls, windows, and doors. Air leakage in those areas plus electrical outlets, baseboards, recessed lighting, and ceilings can make heating much less efficient. These types of heat loss go unnoticed because they are barely perceptible, but they are there.
You can purchase a thermal heat detector starting at around $40 and use its infrared capabilities to check for leaks around just about anything. If you can feel or see drafts coming in, you’ve got work to do.
Close off the unused fireplace.
When not using the fireplace close off the chimney, which is a highway for warm air to escape. There are three main options for sealing off a fireplace: A chimney balloon, a rectangular balloon pillow, and a fitted decorative cover.
The chimney balloon seals off the chimney just above the flue or damper. Essentially it acts like a cork in a wine bottle, except the balloon is located close to the flue or damper. A leaky or missing damper can cost you up to 30% on your heating bill.
The rectangular balloon pillow is placed below and right up against the damper. It incorporates an adjustable pole to help keep the pillow pressed up against the damper. Not only will it retain your household heat, but the pillow also provides a barrier for unwanted sound or debris that may come down your chimney.
A fitted decorative cover is placed just behind your fireplace screen and can be customized to fit your décor. There are do-it-yourself decorative fireplace cover instructions out there for a fun fall cost-saving activity.
Seal pull-down staircases
Check pull-down staircases/attic accesses for airflow leaks. It’s likely that cold air is coming in while the warmth of your house is slipping through those cracks. Use a thermal heat detector or a lighter/lit match around the molding to see if any leaks are visible. A quick way to see leaks is to have your attic light on while turning off the lights below while the access is closed. It will be obvious if you can see light. Light, in this case, means leaks. Some caulk or weather stripping can cut down on airflow in this area.
Adding in wall insulation can be a costly, time-consuming project. But insulating the areas within the walls of the house can make a big difference. Adding heavy drapes and heavy carpet can cut down on window and flooring leaks. The bigger project of insulating walls with a spray-in cavity filler can be saved for another day if you add these decorative insulating accents to your home.
Check the basement for leaks
If you have a basement, the walls can be a huge drain of heat. 21% of heat loss is through those basement walls, while only about 1% of the heat loss goes through the floor. This is because of the thickness of the basement walls versus the foundational floor, which is likely three times thick. Adding insulation around the walls or finishing the basement will add layers of heat-saving protection.
Take full advantage of the biggest heater of them all, our sun. Naturally heating your home with the radiant heat of the sun through windows can give the furnace a break while getting your home nice and toasty. Open and close drapes and curtains as the sun moves around your home throughout the day. Watch your animals; they know how to find warm spots.
Ride that thermostat
Adjust the temperature in the house so you are comfortable during the day, but lower it at night between 10 and 15 degrees to save about 10% on your heating costs. Put all those comforters and blankets you’ve got piled up in the linen closet to use! That 10% in savings will be worth the effort. A programmable thermostat is a no-brainer as you can have the temperature set to rise in the house in the morning.
Make this fall and winter warm, toasty and better yet–money saving! For more ideas on how to winterize your home, see our blog on 5 Ways to Winterize Your DC Home.