Warm for the Winter: How to Heat Your Home While Saving Energy and Money

Do you get chills just thinking about your utility bills during wintertime? If your answer to a drafty home is to simply crank up the furnace, you’ll not only pay for it, but you could also be wasting energy and depleting more natural resources in the process. Instead of making your heater work overtime, here are ways you can reduce your energy consumption and still keep your home warm and toasty this winter.

  

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heating accounts for 45% of energy use in homes and pumps out 292 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year. The more CO2 we release into the atmosphere, the more we hinder the earth’s ability to maintain balance, which has a variety of negative implications. That’s why, the less energy you use to heat your home, the better it is for Mother Nature (and your wallet!).

 

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration.

 

Seal Drafty Areas

Air leaks are the primary culprit for excess energy consumption. If air is able to escape out or in, your furnace will just keep pumping out heat relentlessly. Get to the root of the problem by sealing these areas.

  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows, including your attic, basement, and garage access doors.

  • Caulk openings around plumbing, ductwork, and electrical wiring.

  • Apply foam sealant on larger gaps around windows and baseboards, and place foam gaskets behind outlet covers.

  • Add baffles around recessed lights if yours are not airtight.

  • Install double-pane windows or cover single-pane windows with storm windows. For a cheaper option, purchase a plastic film insulation kit.

  • Seal gaps around the fireplace with sheet metal/sheetrock and a high-temperature silicone caulk. Also, ensure your flue is closed when  not in use.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends getting a professional blower door test to detect the source of air leaks, but in the interest of saving money, they also provide tips on how to identify air leaks yourself.

  

 

Check Your Insulation

 

According to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), 90% of U.S. homes are under-insulated. This is especially true for older homes, but it can even apply to newer ones. The EPA estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs by sealing air leaks and adding insulation in attics, crawl spaces, and basement rim joists. VisitEnergyStar.gov to learn how to perform a DIY insulation check for your walls and attic and to find out which insulation levels are recommended for your region and climate. If you’re not comfortable with the DIY route, hire a professional to assess your insulation needs.

  

 

Let the Light In

 

Using the sun’s natural light is an easy, environmentally conscious (and completely free!) way to heat up your house. As the sun beams down on your windows, it produces a greenhouse effect that traps heat inside. This works in your favor during the winter months, so be sure to open your curtains each morning to let the sun work its magic. On the flip side, remember to close your curtains at night (consider thermal drapes) to keep the warmth in.

 

 

Turn Down the Thermostat

 

As you begin implementing the energy-saving tips provided above, your home should start to warm up and retain heat more efficiently. That means you shouldn’t need to keep your thermostat set super high. During the cooler months, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat to 68°F while you’re at home and awake, and setting it lower when you’re asleep or away. By turning your thermostat back by 7°-10°F from its normal setting for eight hours a day, you can save around 10% per year on heating and cooling costs.

 

 

Program Your Thermostat

 

In addition to choosing the right temperature, a smart or programmable thermostat can make a big impact on your home’s energy efficiency. You can program your thermostat for time-of-day usage, so you don’t have to remember to turn the temperature down when you’re gone or up when you get home from work. More advanced heating systems may even be configured to only heat rooms that you use, or to kick on or off when you enter or leave a room.

 

 

 

Decreasing your energy consumption is an important first step in minimizing the impact that heating has on the environment, and in reducing your energy costs. But we shouldn’t stop there. Rather than relying on fossil fuels (like natural gas) to heat our homes, adopting renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal, and biomass technologies can even further reduce your home’s environmental footprint. While they may not entirely replace your current heating methods, these technologies can easily integrate with your existing system and supplement its heat production.

 

 Learn more about renewable heating options and their costs at EPA.gov.

By taking steps to reduce the amount of energy you use this winter and adopting renewable heating alternatives, you’ll save money, improve the comfort of your home, and make a positive impact on the planet. Those benefits alone are enough to make you feel warm on the inside, as well as the outside!

Your Guide To January

Here’s what’s happening in January. 

 

 

National Take the Stairs Day

Take the first step toward a healthier lifestyle by ditching the elevator and taking the stairs instead.

  

Houseplant Appreciation Day

Big or small, sun- or shade-loving, these green powerhouses do wonders for making a house a home. Show ’em some love!

 

  

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

 A national day of service to honor and commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

  

 Data Privacy Day

 An international effort to help people develop smart, safe privacy and security practices. Get involved atstaysafeonline.org.

 

 

National Plan for Vacation Day

 A reminder to use up those vacation days and devote some time to exploring, relaxing, and enjoying some time off!

  

 

 Inspire Your Heart With Art Day

 “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” — Pablo Picasso

 

 

 

 

 

40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and of those resolutions, 80% of them fail by the second week of February. (But experts say they’re still worth making, so don’t quit before you start!)

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The month of January is named after the Roman god Janus, who is depicted with two faces: one looking forward, and one looking back.

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On January 1, 1892, Ellis Island officially opened as an immigration station. 

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January is the birth month of Martin Luther King Jr., Elvis Presley, Joan of Arc, and Bessie Coleman.

Home Maintenance Reminders

Show your dryer some love

Most people know to clean the lint screen after every load of laundry. Keeping that filter clear will shorten the drying cycle, save you money, and prevent any potential fire hazards.

It is also good practice to regularly, but at least twice a year, remove the lint that accumulates at the bottom of the housing that holds your lint screen.

 

What 
Dryers require regular simple maintenance to keep working safely & efficiently.

 

Why 
To avoid potential fire hazards and having to do costly repairs to your appliances.

 

How 
It goes without saying that you should clean your lint screen after every load of laundry. Keeping the filter clear will shorten the drying cycle, save you money, and prevent any potential fire hazards. It is also a good practice to regularly, but at least twice a year, remove the lint that accumulates at the bottom of the housing that holds your lint screen. You can generally use a vacuum cleaner’s flat attachment to reach down in the housing to suck out anything that has accumulated in there. Finally, you should be cleaning out your dryer’s exhaust duct using a dryer duct cleaning brush (it’s a stiff bristled circular brush with a flexible handle that you can buy at most hardware stores) at least twice a year. The exhaust duct vents your dryers exhaust to the outside of your house and can become a fire hazard if not kept clear. Consider doing this more often (say monthly) if you do heavy amounts of laundry on a consistent basis. Many service providers sell regular service plans to handle this for you, so consider signing up for one.

10 Emergencies Every Homeowner Should Know How to Handle

Burst Pipe

Whether it’s a broken radiator or a rusted-out drain outflow, a burst pipe can cause a lot of trouble in a short period of time. If water is gushing, close the valve closest to the link first, then shut off the main water valve into the house. Once you’ve turned off the main water supply, reopen the smaller valve and slowly drain any remaining water into buckets.

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Black Out

During a power outage, the safest course is to disconnect all appliances and electronics. That way, you’ll avoid damage from power surges when the juice returns to your home. Take great care using candles for illumination, exercising proper fire safety, and be sure to stock up on batteries and flashlights. You can find more power outage safety tips at Ready.gov.

Gas Leak

If your carbon monoxide detector sounds or you simply detect a gas odor, evacuate the house immediately. Once you’ve relocated to a safe location, call the gas company’s 24-hour help line and ask them to send a technician to check your home for leaks.

Basement Flood

Before you charge into a flooded basement to rescue your belongings, be safe. Turn off the circuit breaker to the house (or, if you can’t reach the circuit box, call your utility and ask them to do it for you). Wear thick waterproof boots and gloves to protect against toxic elements in the floodwater.

Roof Damage

For patching a roof battered by storm damage, tarps nailed down with wood strips are the quickest and easiest fix. Just be sure to let any weather pass and take all precautions before climbing up—or even better, call a professional to do it for you, then arrange for more permanent patch-ups to happen as quickly as possible.

Furnace Malfunction

Somehow, the furnace always seems to give out on a frigid evening —and Murphy’s law states it will happen on a Saturday night, when the repairman charges double his usual rate. Before you pick up the phone, check to see if a clogged filter or a tripped circuit breaker might be the culprit.

Locked Out

Getting locked out of the house is a little embarrassing, and, if you have to call a locksmith, can be mightily expensive, too. Keeping a hidden key poses security risks. So remove your extra key from inside the hide-a-key garden stone or from under the back porch door mat, and consider leaving it with a trusted friend or neighbor instead.

Kitchen Fire

First, don’t panic. Keep a box of baking soda in a handy spot for dousing flare-ups in a toaster or stovetop pan. Avoid tossing water on the blaze, and don’t try to smother the flames with a dishtowel or anything that could catch fire. The better course of action is to use a pot lid to extinguish the flames. If it’s an oven fire, don’t open the door—close the oven and the fire should extinguish itself. Although some fire extinguishers are rated to extinguish grease fires, those handheld fire fighters can spread flames rather than extinguish them when used improperly. Educate yourself on the types of extinguishers and how to use them so you’re always ready in case of a disaster.

Flush Fail

Obviously, a plunger is your first line of defense for a clogged toilet. If you’ve cleared the clog but flushing troubles persist, open the tank and investigate. The handle may have gotten disconnected, or part of the flush mechanism may need to be replaced.

Animal Invasion

When backyard wildlife finds their way indoors, they can wreak havoc in a home. If a wild animal gets into your house, keep it contained in one area. Open a window, close all the doors, and it should find its way out. If it doesn’t, call animal control

9 Things Robbers Look at When Canvassing Your Home

You’ve put heart, soul, and a lot of bucks into turning your house into a home. The last thing you want is for someone to break in and rob you. A home intruder is scary to even think about, but spending a few minutes of time recognizing and fixing ways your home is vulnerable can pay off big down the road.

Here are 9 ways you may be inadvertently making your home more attractive to thieves:

Rundown Front Door

Your front door is the first place burglars will look, and a dilapidated front door signals that your home is an easy target. A clean, painted front door gives the impression that the entire home is well-cared for and harder to breach.

Single Lock

Burglars look to see what kind of locks they’ll have to navigate to enter, and when they see only the standard cylinder lock they’re more likely to have a go than if there’s also a padlock visible. In short: doubling up on locks makes your door physically more difficult to break into and your home less appealing to burglars.

Enticing Trash

The discarded boxes and bags from all your big-ticket purchases are like advertisements to burglars of the valuables inside your home. Prevent thieves from getting as excited over your new flat screen TV box as you are with your new TV by keeping this type of garbage inside until trash pickup day.

Dark Exteriors

Burglars don’t like to risk being seen, so when you create a barrier of light around your home using motion sensor activated and basic exterior lights, you’re creating a barrier around your home through which they’re not likely to penetrate. Pay special attention to vulnerable areas like front and back doors and walkways.

Welcoming Landscaping

When planted beneath windows, bushes and shrubs are not only pretty, but they’re an obstacle to climbing into windows. Burglars are especially deterred by the kind of greenery that has thorns or makes loud snapping noises. For trees reaching up to second story windows, be sure to clean up lower branches so they can’t function as a ladder.

Overflowing Mailbox

Piles of mail are a sign that you’re out of town and primed for a robbery. If you’re going away for a while, use the USPS’s Request Hold Mail service to stop delivery while you’re gone. For shorter periods, a neighbor will likely be glad to pick up your deliveries.

Visible Interiors

You don’t want burglars to get a peek at all the goodies you have inside your home, so shut the curtains, pull the shades, put a giant houseplant in front of a street-facing window – do whatever you have to do to keep unwanted eyes out. Be especially mindful at night when the dark sky and lit interior combine to create a fishbowl effect in your home.

Empty House

Encountering the resident is way more than most burglars are bargaining for. If they think you’re in the house, they’re staying out of it, so make it look like someone’s home by turning on a light or two and even leaving on a TV or radio to make some noise. For prolonged periods away, you can use electronic timers to turn them on and off automatically.

Nonexistent Alarm System

They take a bit of financial investment, but a quality alarm system is a huge burglar deterrent, and a necessary one if you live in a high-crime neighborhood. Do your research and pick a reputable alarm company – thieves know the bad and bogus alarm system signs – and consider high-tech options, such as alarms with a camera that allow you to monitor your home from anywhere.

Source – http://www.popsugar.com/home/How-Burglarproof-Your-Home-39700287