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January 31, 2015

Fight the Big Chill - the Best Ways to Save on Heating Your Home

As we settle into the coldest time of the year, a lot of homeowners are wondering how they can get the most value for their heating dollars. We’ve got some ‘hot’ hints to help you stretch your fuel budget!
  1. Ask your local electric company for an energy audit
To improve your efficiency, you need to know where you are at the beginning of your journey. One quick call can get you the information you need. They will assess your needs, family lifestyle and patterns of energy usage and give you ideas that will help you cut your bills. Some companies will even offer rebate incentives with an assessment!
  1. Invest in a programmable thermostat
These low cost ($40-$100, on average) gadgets automatically raise and lower the temperature in your home to save fuel and money. While you’re at work or asleep, the temperature in your house will fall, and you’ll get more heat in mornings and evenings, when you’re enjoying your home. Most of these handy devices will save you up to 30% on your fuel bills.
  1. Invest in a heat pump
Modern, high efficiency units are up to 94% efficient, and will save you quite a bit over time. These units are matched to your home by its size, so check with your homebuilder or a qualified contractor to find out which model is the best fit to heat and cool your home.
  1. Add weather stripping
A true do-it-yourself project, this small change makes a huge difference to your wallet! Control drafts around your windows and doors by installing window caulking, door thresholds and plastic window film. You can increase your heating efficiency by up to 70%! You can also use decorative, old-fashioned door blockers that are a design statement as well as energy savers.
  1. Bring in portable heaters
If some rooms are typically hard to heat, think about getting a small electric unit that will warm the room without the need to turn up the thermostat. Never use a heater that burns liquid fuel inside of your home. Also, make sure that the smoke detectors in your home are working perfectly before you plug in your new heater! For safety tips on operating portable electric heaters in your home, click here.
  1. Water heaters make a difference
Invest in a tankless water heater. These units create a continuous supply of hot water when they are on – everyone in your family can take a shower while the laundry runs and the dishwasher churns – but once they are off, they use no energy, because they don’t store any water. They also last longer than a standard tanked unit; an average of twenty years instead of the usual seven to ten years for a traditional water heater. If you do choose a traditional tank-style heater, use a jacket to improve its function by up to 10%.
  1. Don’t block heating vents
If furniture is impeding the flow of warm air into a room, it will take longer to heat the room to the desired temperature, and use more energy. Move all pieces away from the vents for best performance.
  1. Proper insulation is essential!
Each of the homes built by Ernest Signature Custom Homes is designed with some of the best insulation in the construction industry, including Icynene Spray Insulation! Ask our design specialists about the care we take to make sure your home stays warm during the most brutal cold snaps!
  1. Decorative touches can help conserve energy
Fireplaces are not only lovely focal points for a room; they can provide welcome warmth that helps share the load when it comes to heating your home. Area rugs can add another layer of insulation to the floor, keeping colder air trapped underneath, keeping your toes toasty. Window treatments also block the flow of cold air from windows, especially if you switch out your lightweight curtains for heavier, lined winter panels. Make sure to close your draperies once the temperature drops along with the sun!
  1. Change the direction of your ceiling fans
To make your ceiling fan more efficient in cold weather, reverse the direction of the blades. Doing so will heat the room more evenly and ease the effort your heater needs to keep the room at a comfortable temperature. Even though we’ll be ready for spring’s higher temperatures soon, there’s no reason to run up high heating bills during our short winter. Taking advantage of some of these helpful hints will keep your expenses low!
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