The holiday season is all about striking a balance. Balancing your time commitments against your desire to relax and enjoy the season; balancing your diet against a cornucopia of tempting treats; balancing your budget and savings against your ever-expanding gift list.
Well, we can’t help you resist Aunt Myrtle’s pumpkin pie, but we do have a list of tips that can help you keep your home warmer, and your HVAC costs lower, when the mercury dips and guests come to call.
Grab a Sweater for Savings
San Antonio winters may not be blizzard-ravaged or ice-rimed, but they DO give you the perfect excuse to bring out your crazy holiday sweaters for the office party. But beyond questionable fashion choices, the colder temperatures also mean you can put your heavier wardrobe items to work as money savers.
The folks over at the California Consumer Energy Center recommend dropping your thermostat by one degree a week over the course of several weeks to acclimate yourself to the cooler temps (and give you a chance to finish that sweater you’re knitting). Opting for warmer clothing indoors and a lower thermostat setting can save you an estimated 5% per degree on your home heating bills. That’s a lot of eggnog!
If you’re keen on automation, a programmable thermostat can make it easy to lower the temperature of your home when you’re asleep or away, making the hunt for savings painless.
In addition to grabbing a sweater, some warm socks, and a blanket, you can also throw more blankets on your bed and add area rugs to the rooms you most commonly use to help insulate floors and hold warmth. And if you have one or more rooms that don’t see much (or any!) use during the winter, close off their vents, seal the doors and windows, and let the warm air from your HVAC flow to the places in your home that need it most.
Defeating Drafts and Savoring Sunlight
Even though it’s 93 million miles away, the sun is still our planet’s best and most effective source of heat and light—one you can leverage to help keep your home warmer and brighter all winter long. Make sure you’ve got your curtains and blinds open wide to admit as much sunlight as practicality and preference allow. The United States Department of Energy reports that homes and rooms with high thermal mass from concrete, stone, tile, and brick will absorb heat from the sun during the day, and release it back into your home at night, generating savings automatically.
Another way to keep your home warmer and costs down is by blocking any drafty doors and windows. Well-taped plastic sheeting is great for sealing windows (just make sure it’s clear, so sunlight can still get in!), while air leaks elsewhere can be tackled with caulk or weather stripping.
Don’t Leave the HVAC Maintenance to Santa
Sure, he’s the one climbing down your chimney, but Santa’s probably not the one in charge of your regular HVAC system maintenance. If you’ve been putting off your routine maintenance or service call, it’s much smarter, and safer, to take care of things now instead of some chilly night when you’re in the middle of a long winter’s nap. Whether you’re handling the maintenance yourself or calling on your friendly neighborhood HVAC professional, it’s a good idea to:
- Replace your furnace filter monthly
- Check and clean your flue, burners, and other components
- Clean any parts that show obvious dust and debris accumulation
Starting with these simple maintenance steps (or better yet, taking advantage of a full-service maintenance call) can save you time and money in the long run by improving efficiency and nipping potential problems in the bud.
Finding the perfect balance this winter doesn’t have to be a tightrope walk. With a little creativity, some regular maintenance, and some help from the sun, you can make sure your family and home are warmer—and your budget well-balanced—during those chilly days and nights of winter.