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!

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The Most Cost Effective Ways to Save on Heating Your Home This Winter

Inexpensive Ways to Save on Your Home Heating Bill This Winter

Preventing and Removing Mice from Your Home

Homeowners have a strange relationship with mice. Some of us welcome them into our home as pets, while others try to keep them out or kill them off with traps and poisons.

As the nights get colder mice get braver and attempt to take refuge in your warm home. Unfortunately, the relationship isn’t always mutually beneficial. Mice can get into your food, chew through wires, and leave their droppings in all corners of your home.
mice
So what’s to be done about a mouse in the house?

There are really two steps to taking care of a mouse problem. The first is preventative, and the next is removing any mice that have found their way in.

Preventative steps

Without taking preventative action, you’ll have to repeatedly deal with mice entering the home year after year. What are preventative actions? Mice enter your home through small holes in the exterior of your home. That can mean cracks beneath doors, in windows, or holes in floors, foundations, and walls.

To stop mice from taking advantage of these vulnerabilities, make sure the bottom of your doors seal tightly. Taking time to inspect your home isn’t only useful for keeping mice out, it could also help you save on heat and prevent water damage.

A good way to keep the mice out of your home is to take away what’s bringing them there in the first place: food. If you find that mice are getting into your pantry items or bread basket, use jars or plastic containers those mice won’t be able to penetrate.

Another option for preventing mice is to use a deterrent. Mint plants and bay leaves are both natural mice deterrents. Moth balls also work but are poisonous to pets and humans, so if you have kids or pets this isn’t the best option for you.

One final way would be to employ a feline companion. Mice are less likely to stick around if the house has a cat that will constantly be stalking them.

Removing mice

The only way to remove mice from your home is to trap them, one way or another. First off, avoid using glue traps at all costs. Mice will try to escape by any means, including gnawing at their own limbs, and the glue injures their eyes. The most humane way of removing mice is a live trap. Live traps are reusable and easy to set up. Once you’ve set a live trap, be sure to check it frequently, as mice can easily starve or dehydrate if the trap is forgotten.

Once you’ve caught a mouse, you can place a towel or blanket over the top to calm them down as you transport them. Be sure to follow local regulations about trapping and  releasing wild animals.

Afterwards, just clean out your trap and store it in case you ever need it again.

Marketing Your Home In Winter

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OK – So its winter! Do not target your intentions on the time of year. Focus your efforts on the home buying market. For sellers of homes and land, winter may be the ideal time of the year to list your property for sale. A misconception by sellers that winter is a bad time to put your home on the market results in low inventories and less completion for sellers.

Choose A Realtor

List your home for sale with an experienced and reputable licensed Realtor that will expansively promote your property via the Internet as well as traditional marketing modalities such as an open house, or newspaper adds. Ask if you Realtor advertise your listing through social media, e-mails or newsletters. You will want to choose a Realtor than will provide you with exposure on multiple websites, forums, and social media platforms. Don’t just assume that your home will be promoted or featured. Work with a Realtor that will design a detailed proposal of how your home will be marketed.

Use Current Photos

When selling in winter, arrange with your realtor to schedule a shoot on a sunny morning, ideally after a fresh snowfall. Fresh snow can make the landscape appear bright and cheerful rather than dull and dreary. The photographer, by incorporating fresh snow, blue skies, clouds and greenery can showcase your home to its best advantage. Work with your realtor to ensure that all marketing shows are changed frequently to appear new and fresh and that all photos are updated for the current season and do not appear tired and dated.

Looking Good

Keep all sidewalks and driveways shoveled and free of snow and ice. Keep the front porch free of newspapers, shovels, boots or clutter. Make sure the entry way is clear and provides easy access. The home should always look clean and well maintained. If you have any small repairs that have not been addressed, fix them before putting the house on the market.

Ask your Realtor to do a walk through the house with you and make suggestions and impartial observations. Your realtor’s experience with buyer’s concerns will alert him or her to potential problems you may not recognize or have noticed.

Depersonalize The Property

As an example, the hot pink wall and the lime green shag rug in the bathroom look dated and have to go. Often a whole house de-cluttering is to remove the seller’s personality from the property. If your photos, sports memorabilia, photos, and musical instruments are strung about, it is virtually impossible for a potential buyer to visualize his or her stuff in its place.

Keep Your Home Warm And Cozy

If your home is to be viewed by potential buyers, now is not the time to turn down the thermostat to save on energy costs. Especially when cold winter winds are blowing, you want visitors to step inside to an embracing warm rather than a chilly draft. Having the home warm and inviting give buyers a reason to linger.