by Suzie Wilson
Winter leads most of us to spend more time indoors, essentially hibernating until spring weather comes along. However, if you tend to turn the furnace up to stay comfortable, it can lead to reduced air quality, expensive heating bills, and even health concerns. Here’s how to keep your home warm and cozy this winter without sacrificing a thing.
Why Not Turn Up the Heat?
While it’s obvious that turning your thermostat up affects your energy use and utility bills, you might be surprised at how dramatic the impact actually is. According to some statistics, for every degree above 70, you raise the temperature, your heating bill rises as much as 4 percent. So, with just a few degrees, you could be paying 10 percent more! It’s also important to ensure your furnace is running optimally. Proper maintenance ensures a longer life for the unit, as well as better efficiency and lower bills.
Easy, Breezy, and Smart
A simple thing that every homeowner can and should be doing is regularly changing furnace filters. Not only are clean filters good for your wallet and your heating and cooling system, but they also mean breathing cleaner air. There are easy, step-by-step instructions you can follow, and to boost your convenience more, enroll in an air filter subscription service. You just have to set up the size, quantity, and frequency one time, and then the filters will come to your home regularly, reminding you when it’s time to install a new one.
Further Furnace Efficiency
There are a few other ways you can boost your furnace’s efficiency, which will, in turn, keep your home toasty warm through the winter months. For instance, you can improve your window insulation to reduce drafts and heat loss. There are easy-to-install films made to better seal windows, you can caulk cracks in your window casings, and consider improving your weather stripping as well. Thermal curtains also boost insulation, and you can use draft stoppers at the bottoms of exterior doors. Many people are surprised to discover that heat can be lost through outlets and light switches as well, but you can easily remedy the situation with outlet and switch plate insulation. Home Depot notes that you can also boost furnace efficiency by turning ceiling fans in a clockwise direction, which keeps warm air circulating down.
Bump Up Humidity
By the nature of the beast, furnaces dry out in-home air. When your air becomes very dry, it can lead to skin irritation, respiratory problems, and eye irritation. As Medical News Today points out, using a humidifier throughout winter can help alleviate some of those issues. A humidifier can also help you avoid catching viruses, and if you do get sick, it can potentially help you heal more quickly by avoiding dry, unproductive coughing. Improved humidity can be especially helpful to those who suffer from allergies and asthma, keeping airways from becoming dry, irritated, and inflamed. Room humidifiers cover only so much square footage, and there is a wide variety of types available, so read reviews to make good choices for your circumstances.
Alternative Heat Sources
There are some alternative ways to take off winter’s chill, and they can also boost your warm fuzzies. Consider lighting a fire in your fireplace; cuddling up with a nubby blanket; adding some layers of soft, warm clothing; and snuggling with a furry friend (or favorite human!). Just remember to close the damper on your fireplace when the embers are fully out so you can avoid lost heat, and ensure your chimney is inspected regularly by a professional chimney sweep.
There are plenty of ways to feel warm and cozy this winter without cranking up your thermostat. Ensure you’re making the most of your energy use, properly maintain your heating system, and boost your home’s humidity level. It may be a chilly season, but you can stay warm, happy, and healthy while you hibernate!