Temperatures in eastern Massachusetts have finally crashed, and snow is on the way. You want to keep your home warm and comfortable in the face of winter weather, but that can get pretty pricey. When the difference between outside and inside temperatures reaches 60 degrees, the cost of heating can go up drastically.
But it doesn’t have to.
Some easy DIY-able improvements and a little resourcefulness can keep the price of comfort low, by keeping warm air inside, and cold outside.
Prevent Air Infiltration — aka Drafts
- Block drafts from light switches and outlets. Light switches, power outlets, and anywhere else a wire comes in through a wall is little more than a hole in your wall with a flimsy plastic cover and a plastic box behind it. Unless your home’s builders took the time to properly insulate around electrical boxes, cold air runs straight through them and into your home. Blocking drafts is simple: put some flexible padding between the outlet cover and the wall– thin enough to be pressed down by the outlet edges, and wide enough to cover the hole itself. Any windproof thin padding will work, and some companies even produce specially designed draft-prevention inserts. But if you have scissors and some bubble envelopes, you can cut your own for a fraction of the cost, for whatever outlet types you have in your home.
- Bonus: block pipe entry points with expanding foam. Pipes run through your walls, too. Oftentimes they come in through square-cut holes, and are covered with what amounts to a decorative plastic ring. Pop the ring off and fill that space up with expanding foam. The foam will fill any empty space it can find, and expand to block it completely.
- Film your windows the right way. Speaking of holes in your walls, that’s basically what your windows are. They’re giant holes in your walls with only a frame and some glass over them to keep the cold out. Most of us have been introduced to draft-blocking window-film– and for many of us it’s a winter must-have, especially in older homes. But we tend to use them improperly, putting the film over just the glass instead of around the entire frame. The seal between the window frame and the interior and exterior walls may not be perfect, and if you don’t block those gaps somehow, air will pass freely through them. Filming around the entire frame prevents this, and can save you more in heating costs than just filming over the glass. Alternatively, weather stripping or sealing caulk can do the same job. All three are available at your local hardware store.
- Bonus: renew weather stripping around doors and windows. Weather stripping exists to block drafts. But just like anything else, it degrades over time. If yours is looking shabby, it’s likely not doing its job very well. Replace it with new stripping and keep your heated air inside.
Make the Most of What You Have
- Solar power your living room. Even with short days, the sun provides a considerable amount of heat. Consider opening your south-facing curtains during the sunlight hours to take advantage of the free heat.
- Reverse your ceiling fans. Warm air rises, but you don’t. While your warm air wants to hang out up at the ceiling, you’re confined to the floor. If you have ceiling fans, switch them to run clockwise. This will push the warm air down, where you will benefit most from it.
If you’re pretty handy, consider inspecting your home’s ductwork for leaks. Hot air that leaks before it gets into your home is doing exactly zero work keeping you comfortable. A bit of time and metallic tape can save you quite a bit over the cold season.
If you haven’t had your heating system inspected by a professional yet, consider scheduling a tune-up visit. A heating professional will inspect your system for broken or worn parts, leaks, and loose connections, and recommend any repairs to keep it in efficient working order.
Finally, the biggest improvement in terms of home heating efficiency you can make is proper insulation. Many homes in Massachusetts are hardly insulated at all, meaning hot air escapes through every square foot of wall space. That’s a lot of lost heat and a lot of lost money.
The Massachusetts government and utility providers are encouraging insulation improvements through various incentive programs– and HomeWorks Energy is here to help you get the most you can out of those programs. Rebates, discounts, no-interest financing, and a no-cost home energy inspection to tell you precisely how much money you’re losing to poor insulation. Contact us today to find out how much you can benefit from home energy improvements– down to the dollar!