Much is written about today regarding our world and how we take care of it. Being a good steward extends beyond our financial resources. We need to be mindful of one of our greatest resources- the actual world in which we live. Much has been written about our carbon footprint and how much and what kind of energy we use. If everyone does a little to make our homes more environmentally friendly, it can make a big difference in the health of the planet. Plus using less energy is definitely easier on your budget as well.
Your probably never considered that your central heating unit is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to generating carbon emissions, and in most parts of the country it’s active throughout the winter season. But, staying warm doesn’t necessarily mean you need to keep your heating unit on the highest temperature setting to stay comfortable. In fact, many people are starting to realize that there are many things that you can do which will help keep your home cozy while keeping your heating bills low.
Make use of your ceiling fans
Most people don’t realize that their ceiling fans are actually reversible. There is a switch where the blades connect to the fan that when changed causes the blades to turn clockwise. Setting the fan to low speed in this direction, causes a slight updraft that allows the warm air that’s near the ceiling (heat rises) to be circulated downward back into the room. This is so helpful, especially if you have high ceilings like we do.
Whatever your heat source, redistribute the air throughout the room with the use of your ceiling fan. This works whether you are using a room heater, your furnace, or even something that emits a large amount of heat such as computers or lamps. Transferring the heat by use of your ceiling fan helps keep those energy costs down by allowing you to keep your thermostat at a more affordable temperature. If you use a room heater, this will help you not have to run it constantly to feel the warmth.
If your house is heated by a radiator, it won’t push the warm air around the room, meaning that there will be hot and cold spots in your home if you don’t make use of reversed ceiling fans. Big / large fans circulate more air meaning that a large one could cover an entire room with ease, spreading the warm air around your room and ultimately making it more comfortable.
Your range can help
Everyone knows that cooking heats up the kitchen. If you feel like your heating unit is working itself to death and it’s not getting your house as warm as you’d like, you seriously can turn those burners on for a few minutes and suddenly things start to get toasty. And not just in the kitchen. Trust me on this. We’ve done it several times. As you can imagine, our 120 year old farmhouse is drafty. As much as we try to seal all the areas where the cold air enters the house, there’s always another spot! Keeping the ceiling fan on, reversed and on low, allows that warm air generated by the stove to move into the adjoining parlor.
If your kitchen is closed off by a door, open it then turn on those burners. As I said, it only takes a few minutes to warm things up. This sounds like a very primitive way to reduce your energy bills, but you need to start thinking in terms of what generates heat in your home and how you can take advantage of that. I hadn’t even considered this idea when we had our ceiling fan installed in the kitchen. I was just thinking about keeping cool in the summer months. Turns out, it’s working great in the winter too!
It’s helpful that we removed the wall between the dining area and kitchen so the air flows more freely. But even if we hadn’t, this would still be a trick I’d use to help heat things up.
So whether you’re cooking that Christmas dinner or simply want to bake a hot pie, leave the kitchen door open if you have one and turn on the ceiling fan so that you can help the hot air circulate around your home.
Be smarter about your thermostat
Let’s face it; it’s virtually impossible to stay warm through the winter without using your central heating and the purpose of this article isn’t to completely omit the use of your heater, but to reduce the amount you have to rely on it.
A big part of this strategy is waste reduction. It’s all about trying to maximize the length of time your home is kept at a comfortable temperature instead of mindlessly turning on the heat and leaving it on until it gets so hot, you have to readjust the temperature setting. This means that you should be smarter about the use of your thermostat. The new electronic thermostats have come down in price and are much more affordable than in recent years. These thermostats have settings that allow you to schedule your heat. You can set it to a low temperature while you’re at work, then have it kick in at a higher setting about an hour before you get home. If you’re like me and like the house cooler while you sleep, set the thermostat to come down to a lower temperature at bedtime each night.
You also need to take into consideration where the sensors for your thermostat are. For example, if the sensors are near a cold area in your home where there’s a draft, then the temperature readings will be skewed and you’ll need to adjust the thermostat temperature.
Only heat areas that you’re using
One other way to be more energy efficient (if you have different systems on each floor) is to turn the thermostats way down on floors where you are not going to be spending time. Our house is three stories and we have three HVAC units to heat and cool the house. The third floor unit is almost always set to a low temp in the winter and high in the summer. The second floor unit is adjusted according to whether or not I’ll be spending time in the craft room, if the office will be in use, or if we have guests. There’s no sense in wasting the energy to heat and cool areas of the house that won’t have people who need the comfort in those spots.
These are simple little tricks but if you utilize them, you might find you have a little more cash in your pocket each month as well as being a good steward of the planet.