By now you are probably tired of reading posts that promise to offer you the secret to staying warm while saving money and then tell you to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater. Everybody knows that trick! Where’s the insight? Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those posts. Why? Because we know one secret that nobody wants to admit: sometimes the trick to staying warm is spending a little bit of extra money.
Now, we’re not talking about jacking up your thermostat and pretending your home is a tropical island all winter. We’re talking about making the kinds of changes that last all winter long and that actually make a difference in how much you spend on that utility bill every month. Yes some of them will cost you some money now, but they’ll earn back their expense in the long run.
First let’s start with an easy way to save money on your utility bills: switch providers. More and more states are deregulating their energy industries in some fashion every year and if you live in a deregulated market, you get to decide which provider powers your home. This allows you to shop around and find the best rate. For example, if you click here, you’ll see a comparison of providers in Houston, Texas. There is likely a page for your area as well.
Usually, this is the part where we would tell you to switch out those incandescents and CFLs for LEDs. We’re not going to do that. Instead, we’re going to encourage you to switch back to incandescents during the colder months. Why? Because incandescents give off heat. And if you’re going to be turning on a light anyway, why not double it up as a heat source so you won’t rely so much on your heater? Obviously, you shouldn’t use the bulb in place of your heater, but you can use it to offset a thermostat that has been lowered a few degrees.
When was the last time you inspected your insulation? There is more to this than heading up into the attic and saying “yup, still there.” During the winter months it is particularly important to have good insulation around your doors and windows as this is where most of the cold air gets in. If you haven’t done any inspections for a while, now’s the time to make the call and consider an upgrade. The better your insulation, the steadier the temperature of your home will be.
Windows are the biggest source of air leeching in your home. Single paned glass is particularly susceptible to this and double paned glass isn’t much better. If you really want to keep air from seeping through, you should upgrade to the clear plastic panes that are available now. They help regulate the temperature of your house and they are harder to break, so they help keep your home safe.
If you’re a renter, don’t worry; there are still things you can do. Check out the spaces where your pipes come in from the walls. If you see any holes or feel any air flowing through, plug up the hole! Use steel wool around the pipes because this helps keep pests from chewing through and use a soft foam core on the rest. You can easily remove these improvements when you move so you won’t have to worry about your lease.
For your windows, obviously you won’t be able to just swap out what’s there for something new, even if you can afford it. Instead invest in protective film. You’ve probably heard of “privacy film,” right? Well, they make film that helps insulate the windows to prevent air seepage. This film is easier to install and remove than thick plastic and is the far superior aesthetic choice. Your landlord likely won’t even know it’s there.
If you are lucky enough to live in a fully carpeted home, you can skip this part. If you have hardwood or tile flooring, though, read on! Carpeting is a great way to insulate your floors and keep them from lowering the temperature of your home. Don’t worry, you don’t have to put in permanent wall to wall if you don’t want to. However laying down plush area rugs is a good idea (and perfect for renters). Thick pile carpet prevents heat from seeping through the floor boards and feels good under your feet during the winter.
There are so many ways to keep your home warm during the cold months. Start with what we’ve offered here and then get creative. What’s the best way you’ve found to keep your home nice and toasty?