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10 easy ways to keep your house warmer and your heating bills lower this winter.
Good news, yesterday was amazingly warm!! Bad news: we won’t see those warm temps again til May …. It’s dark, cold, long and expensive to heat your home during winter months in Toronto. Good news: there really are (easy) ways to curb your heating costs this winter. Our goal is for you to enjoy our winter season and think a little less about the expenses around heating your home.
1. Energy Audits
The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) offers energy efficiency programs and discounts including a heating and cooling initiative of up to $650. For more information, please visit www.saveONenergy.ca or contact your electricity utility. For more check out the Ministry of Energy FAQs.
They will assess your needs, family lifestyle and energy usage patterns as well as check your home for areas that can be improved ie. appliances and insulation levels. Best part: They will offer suggestions on creating more efficient energy consumption.
2. Air Leaks
Drafty = expensive = waste of hard earned money. Check your window and door seals, and attic insulation. Replace weather stripping around your windows and doors before the really cold weather hits us. Seal drywall areas around lighting fixtures, ceiling fans and plugs. You’d be amazed how much you air escapes through them. A can or two of Great Stuff will offer you a very inexpensive solve and it’s oddly rather fun watching it expand. It’s also rather gratifying as you’ll feel the difference immediately.
Pro Tip: Don’t touch Great Stuff it when it’s wet. Cut out excess with an exacto knife once dry and then replace your face plates.
It is very tempting to set your thermostat for a comfortable twenty-something celsius degrees. You’re going to get the most heinous Toronto hydro bill if you do though. If you do not own a programmable thermostat, stop reading right now, get in your car and drive to the nearest Home Depot/Lowes/Rona and get one. Seriously! Have it installed ASAP and program it so your house is only warm when you’re home and awake and it maintains cooler temps during your office and sleeping hours.
While 20 celsius may seem chilly, put on your fave at home hoody or sweater and comfy socks to stay warm. And, setting the thermostat to 16 celsius overnight will also save big bucks on your energy bill.
Pro Tip: If you’re leaving town for a few days turn the temperature down to 13 or 14 Celsius, which is the lowest setting without the pipes freezing. You don’t need your house to be warm if you’re not there.
I’ve had a programmable thermostat for years. Going to step it up and get a Nest Thermostat this season. PS: There’s a Nest app on your iphone. So, you can deviate from the smart thermostat settings.
Insulation is perhaps the most important feature to keeping a home temperatures constant in all weather. You want to have the proper level of insulation in in your attic and between the inside walls to save the most most money possible.
Wikipedia says, “An R-value is a unit thermal resistance for a particular material or assembly of materials (such as an insulation panel). The R-value depends on a solid material’s resistance to conductive heat transfer. For loose or porous material, the R-value accounts for convective and radiative heat transfer through the material.” The higher the R-value the less likely heat can escape (or the cold can penetrate) which results in lower energy bills. Heat escapes through your attic all day long if not properly insulated (heat rises). Ensure you have insulation up there. Heat losses can add close to thirty percent to your energy bill.
Fireplaces are excellent sources of heat and can warm a room in a matter of minutes. Fireplaces do have their drawbacks though. An open fireplace damper is a funnel for cold air into your home. Only open the damper when in use. You’ll know it’s closed if you light a fire and your house gets smokey.
6. Air Vents or Rads
Air vents and rads were historically designed to be functional and not pretty. Rad covers hide rads but may impede air flow, thus making your furnace work harder than you’d want it to and giving you a bigger bill. I’d never say look at ugly rads to keep the airflow moving – design covers efficiently or hide them by painting them the same color as the wall or the flooring so they fade into the background.
Pro Tip: Too many coats of paint hinders rads from emitting heat. Be aware of paint layer build up.
7. Ceiling Fans
A modern design often means open-concept with high ceilings which can increase your heating bills – as the heat rises to your rooftop. If you have a ceiling fan, reverse the direction of the blades to push the warm air back down. This will help to heat the room more evenly, keep the room at a comfortable temperature and give your furnace (and wallet) a break.
8. Window Coverings
Window coverings are both aesthetic features in a cozy living room or romantic bedroom and can help to insulate a room from the outside cold air seeping. Line your drapes and to provide additional insulation and another layer to keep out the big winter chill.
9. Space Heaters
This is a fave! While they are expensive to run for long periods of time, being able to add in a little extra heat into one room (vs your whole house) makes good economic sense. If you work from home and have a space heater by your feet while the rest of the house is running on much cooler temperatures, you will come out ahead on overall heat cost savings.
10. Area Rugs
During the cold winter months, area rugs serve an important function- they add another layer of insulation to the floor and by trapping the cool air underneath Who doesn’t love a great area rug underfoot?
If you have a winter heat saving tip we’d love to hear from you!