With winter fast approaching, it’s important to make sure your home is protected and ready for Michigan's cold temperatures and potentially destructive weather. To help, we’ve gathered up these seven simple tips to keep your home warm and Old Man Winter’s icy fingers off of your hard-earned money.
1. Change Furnace Filters
One easy way to reduce your heating costs is to regularly replace your furnace filter. A dirty or clogged filter restricts airflow, increasing energy needs and overworks critical parts of your system. By simply replacing your filter, you can improve air quality by eliminating nasty things like dust and pet dander, while simultaneously increasing the efficiency and longevity of your system. Pro tip: Buy a few extra filters and set an automatic calendar reminder for yourself.
2. Run Ceiling Fans in Reverse
This is a super simple hack that most people aren't aware of. Running your fans in a clockwise rotation moves air pooled near the ceiling, circulating it back into the room. Depending on how many fans you have in your home, it’s estimated that it can cut your heating costs by as much as 10 percent!
3. Eliminate drafts
Drafts can waste 5 to 30 percent of your energy use. Grab a pen and paper and walk around your home, inspecting each room and noting problem areas. Common places to look are exterior doors and windows, attic hatches, recessed lighting fixtures, outdoor faucets, and sill plates. Check all weatherstripping and door sweeps, replacing where necessary. Professional inspectors may also be available in your area.
4. Install a Smart Thermostat
When many people heat or cool their homes, they set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature and then forget about it. This means the temperature is being maintained around the clock, whether you’re home or not — resulting in massive inefficiency and increasing your heating and cooling costs. Smart thermostats like the Nest provide valuable reporting on your energy usage and offers options like adaptive learning to create a highly-efficient schedule. For every degree you lower the thermostat during the heating season, you’ll save between 1 and 3 percent on your heating bill!
5. Put up Plastic
There are many older homes in the Ann Arbor area that may not have the luxury of having storm windows or modern insulation. For just a few bucks, you can pick up a window insulation kit. The film is sold in rolls or sheets and resembles plastic wrap. Each sheet is cut to the size of your window and adhered with double-sided tape, and using a hair dryer, you can shrink the film to fit eliminating any wrinkles in the film. It may not seem like the most-fashionable solution, but the savings are real.
6. Clean out your gutters
Scheduling a gutter cleaning after the leaves have fallen can save a lot of potential headaches later. Build up of leaves and other debris in your gutters can lead to restricted flow of water, causing ice dams — thick ridges of ice that build up along your eaves. Ice dams can be very destructive, bending and yanking on your gutters, loosening shingles, and causing water to backup into the walls or attic of your home. For added protection, install heated cables onto your roof. These cables heat the exterior of your home’s roof, melting snow and eliminating potentially-dangerous buildups.
7. Add Fiberglass Insulation
Do you have an unfinished attic? Adding insulation could be one of the best improvements you could make this winter season. The Department of Energy estimates that a properly-insulated attic could shave 10-50% off your heating bill. For the DIY-capable, the project can be tackled in a weekend, or you can hire a professional. Materials open to you are traditional fiberglass, cellulose, and mineral wool.
With a few hours of research and work, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars off of your heating bill, each winter. Consult your local home improvement store or contractor for additional tips. Often, there are additional tax credits available each year to home improvements like these. Stay warm!