Many homes are designed to keep the interior cool during the hot summer months, but the same can’t be said about retaining heat during the colder months. A lot more energy is needed to keep your rooms comfortable in extreme cold than in very hot conditions, especially if you have to keep your heater on both day and night. This can drastically increase your energy costs unless you take the necessary steps to insulate your home this winter.
First, you should keep in mind that heat in your home is lost in two ways: by convection to the air and by radiation to the surroundings. If you have drafty doors and windows, they can let in cold air and allow heat to escape. Similarly, if your walls and windows are poorly insulated, they can absorb the heat and dissipate it to the exterior, requiring you to turn on the heat for longer to reach a comfortable temperature.
So, how can you use this knowledge to keep your home warm this winter?
- Block drafts around your doors and windows
Your heating system will be working overtime to compensate for the cold air creeping into your home from under the doors and drafty windows. Apply caulk around your windows to seal off any air leaks, and apply a draft snake (or old towels/blankets) against the door where cold air passes through.
- Cover your walls
Stone or brick walls are generally better insulators than glass. However, they get cold and absorb heat from your interior and allow it to escape outside. Actually, the temperature of stone walls is usually 3 to 4 degrees lower than the room temperature. You can reduce energy loss through the walls by covering them with framed pictures, mirrors, posters, bookshelves, and even wallpaper. You can also add wooden screens to your walls and windows to keep cold air out and warm air in.
- Close and open your curtains as need be
When it is sunny outside, open the curtains to let in sunlight and natural warmth. Without sunlight, heat escapes through your windows. So make use of heavy thermal curtains to trap the warmth when the sun sets and the heater is on.
- Close off rooms not being used when the heater is on
Even when using the most energy efficient heater, you should try to maximize the effect for less money by closing off any rooms that are not in use to avoid wasting the heat. If you have separate heaters for each room, close the doors and only heat the rooms in use.
- Get your heater or boiler serviced
You should get your heater or boiler serviced at least once a year to ensure that it is operating in top condition when winter comes. It will not only be more efficient, but also less likely to break down during the cold season, saving you the discomfort and expense of emergency repairs. Also vacuum the air registers, radiators, vacuum baseboard heaters, or other components of your home’s heating system to maximize their efficiency.
- Take advantage of smart controls
It is a good idea to install a smart control to optimize your heater system so it uses the minimal energy required. An app-based control that allows you to remotely switch on/off your heating system can save you energy, as you can delay your heating coming on if you expect to arrive home later than usual.
- Insulate your home
You will end up using a lot of energy to warm your interior if you allow the heat to escape the instant it is generated. Consider using double- or triple-glazed windows, loft insulation, and cavity walls to trap the heat inside, as well as radiator reflectors to reflect heat that usually escapes through the walls back into the room.
- Cook more often
If you like to cook, you can take advantage of the heat generated in the kitchen to warm the air around your home. Make use of the oven and stove more often, and keep the doors open to circulate the air.
- Open the door after your bath
After taking a bath, don’t drain the water from the bath until it has cooled down completely. Open the bathroom door to let the warm, steamy air circulate the other rooms.
- Rearrange your furniture
Some areas of your rooms will be colder than others. So, consider moving your furniture or seating position away from the walls and closer to the source of heat. Also consider placing some floor mats to reduce heat loss through the floor, and to keep your feet warm.
Lastly, make your effort count by keeping your body temperature up. Consider wearing many clothes with thin layers rather than one item with a thick layer to trap heat better. Also drink lots of hot drinks, eat regularly to generate heat from your metabolism, and move around regularly throughout the day to raise your body temperature.