We know that not all of our readers can afford a new heat and air system, do not qualify for tax credits, and in many cases could care less whether or not they are leaving a big carbon footprint, they are busy trying to survive. This time of year can be hard for those people. We thought we should give some advice for those who cannot afford to hire us, even with zero % financing, on how to stay warm this winter.
While it may seem that cold air coming in is the issue, the real problem is escaping heat. Check all your windows, doors, heat vents and other openings for drafts. Simply light a candle and pass it slowly around the edge of the door or window. Flickering flame indicates a draft, slowly shifting flame that becomes steady when held still indicates relatively still air. Fill the gaps with weatherstrip or caulking. If those are not available, even rolled or folded newspaper slipped into the gap can help. Cover extremely drafty windows and doors with plastic sheeting, draperies or even blankets and bed sheets to cut the draft and conserve valuable heat.
Optimize Your Heat System
Change out your filters, or at least blow or vacuum the dust from the surface. The more air that travels through the system, the more efficiently it can heat the room. Set your thermostat to a steady temperature during the day and turn it down slightly at night to save energy. Most of us can be comfortable at temperatures as low as 68 F once we become accustomed to it. Turn your blower to the “on” position. The heat will still turn on and off with the thermostat setting, but the circulating air can keep your rooms warmer.
Heat Less Space
If you have central heat, any room that is not used and does not contain water pipes that may freeze can be closed off by shutting the vents in that room and closing the door, or hanging a curtain over the opening. This can cut the heated area drastically to help conserve. If you have a floor heater, wall heat or other area heaters, close off rooms that are not heated, and do not require heat for pipes.
Looking for Help?
Most communities have agencies that can help with the cost of heating. Check with your state department of human services, your church, or the city offices. In some larger communities a 211 system has been put in place to provide that type of information. Simple dial 211 and give them the required information. If you need simple help with caulking, weatherstripping, installing plastic over windows, etc. don’t hesitate to ask neighbors or family for aid. Cutting the cost of your heating bill can mean the difference between tough choices and surviving the winter in comfort.