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Winter Heat Conservation Strategies

I always take a peek into Gerri Willis’ 5 Tips column [3] because I’ll probably find a tip or two that will serve as a reminder for something I should be doing. With heating costs on the rise, it’s almost time to prep your home to minimize heat loss this winter. Her five tips are pretty predictable but you can still take away something useful. Here’s what I plan on doing (or already am doing) to conserve heat.

1. Using the programmable thermostat – I’m glad to see this as the first tip since everyone should get one because it should pay for itself within the first year. It’s useful in the winter and the summer so you don’t need to wait for a favorable season, every season is favorable with a programmable thermostat.

2. Sealing ducts – Of the five, this is the tip this week that I’m going to look into. The downside is that all my ducts are in the walls so I don’t know how well I’m going to be able to do this but at least it’s in my mind.

The rest of the tips aren’t applicable (my attic is insulated, I have electric heat, and I don’t qualify for low income home energy assistance) but here are some more ideas I’ve had.

3. Seal windows – This includes caulking them on the outside but also putting a plastic covering over the windows on the inside. It doesn’t look pretty but I have a lot of little used rooms in my house where it wouldn’t be a significant eye sore. Air leaks in and heat leaks out in those places (I need new windows really) so a plastic sheet will be useful.

4. Weather-strip doors – I have a set of French front doors and weather-stripping them (adding that plastic strip to edges of the doors) can prevent heat loss (or cold air coming in). A few bucks and a few minutes is a great tradeoff.

5. Use the fireplace – I’ve never had a fireplace before so it’ll be an interesting experiment. With wood being a cheap source of fuel, this might save a few dollars on the utility bill. I forgot to mention this earlier but my fireplace has a little fan/pump above the flames that push the hot air back into the room. This is important because otherwise the air would get sucked up the chimney and out of the house if the heat was otherwise turned on.

6. Insulate piping – A lot of my pipes are already covered but there still are a few that could use it.

7. Reduce water heater temperature to 110 degrees – I may not do this because I like hot showers but a tip I read everywhere is that reducing hot water heat to 110 degrees will save you money but you won’t really know the difference.