For a while there it looked like we were dodging winter, but, at last, the cold and snow caught up to us. For anyone living anywhere, winter means all sorts of bad things: frozen pipes, shorter days, cold breezes from drafty windows, higher utility bills, and more. That said, there are tips that can make winter less of a headache and a little cheaper.
1. Leave Vents Uncovered
Just because it sounds obvious doesn’t mean that it’s done. So often, a couch or a rug covers a vent. When this happens, you’re starting a chain reaction of heating inefficiency. First, you’re stopping warm air from filling your apartment or house, resulting in a lower home temperature. When that happens, your furnace needs to work harder than it should to get the building to its set temperature. This means that you’ll end up with higher (sometimes much higher) heating costs.
The solution is simple. Know where your supply and return vents are located and make the extra effort to keep them free and clear. If it seems like an impossible fix, look into buying a few air deflectors to work around your furniture.
2. Keep Your Thermostat on “Auto”
Imagine being thirsty and getting water from the faucet. After you fill up your glass and have a drink, you leave the kitchen. The only problem? You’ve left the water pouring out! Instead of just taking the water you need and saving the rest, you’ve chosen to constantly have water pouring out. Crazy, right? Believe it or not, you’re basically doing the same thing when you have your thermostat set to “On” or “Hold” instead of “Auto.”
The “Auto” function of a thermostat makes the furnace run only when it needs to, while the “On” function causes the furnace to run constantly. In fact, the “On” function causes the average furnace to run for 200 more hours a month! The results? They’re the same. Both the “Auto” and “On” functions leave your home at the set temperature. We’re left wondering why there’s even an “On” function in the first place! So, unless you don’t want to be energy and cost efficient, always use the “Auto” function on your thermostat!
3. Keep Your Thermostat On One Temperature
It’s a common misconception that lowering your thermostat each time you leave your house will save money. If you turn your thermostat down before you go to the grocery store and back up an hour later, you’ve used more energy than if it would have stayed the same. Instead of constantly fluctuating your temperature, consider keeping it set to a reasonable 68° in the winter.
The exception? If you’re going to lower your temperate for 8 or more hours, then turning your thermostat down 7°-10° can save you up to 10% on your annual heating costs, according to energy.gov.
4. Change Your Furnace Filter
How easy is it to forget this one? Almost every furnace filter should be changed out each quarter. The worst thing you could do it break a furnace by not completing this simple household chore. And in the dead of winter? Yeah, I’ll pass. Set quarterly reminders in your phone to help make a habit of switching out your furnace filters. You’ll be glad you did.
If you’re a Lykens tenant, your lease likely holds you as responsible for changing out your furnace filters unless otherwise stated. Be sure to double check. Reach out to our office if you ever need help or sizing!
5. Be Safe With Space Heaters
Here are a few quick tips with space heaters:
- While space heaters offer a quick way to heat up a room, they pack an energy-usage punch. As a rule, always unplug your space heaters when they aren’t in use just in case they waste energy or, much worse, catch fire.
- Don’t use extension cords or power strips with a space heater. While it might seem fine, most power strips and extension cords were not made to handle something that uses as much energy as a space heater. Fires could start.
- When you do plug a space heater into your outlet, have it be the only item you plug in. A space heater and another high-energy item is a quick recipe for a blown fuse.
6. Don’t Use Smart Thermostats (For Lykens Tenants)
While smart thermostats can be awesome ways to increase your energy efficiency, control your thermostat on the go, and usually look really cool, we ask that Lykens tenants don’t install smart thermostats in their apartments.
That said, the Lykens staff would be happy to do routine maintenance on your thermostat to make sure that it’s ready for the winter season. Often, a fresh battery is all that’s needed, but we’ll make sure that it’s nothing more.
Winter brings its challenges, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. With this advice and much more that’s out there, the cold doesn’t seem so bad. Want our 10 tips to save money on heating and cooling costs? Make sure that you read our other article here!