Hibernation Time: Make Your Home a Safe Haven for Heat

It’s January, and that means that it’s hibernation time! In the Pacific Northwest, the weather is getting truly blustery, the trees have nearly finished dropping their leaves, and the unchained barbecues are bashing against the sliding doors in the storm. The salmon are arriving to lay their eggs, and migratory birds like the Swainson’s Thrush have long since gone. It’s time for humans to think about winter too, and this involves more than putting the snow tires on the car, if you have one.

How can you keep the heat in this winter and keep the heating bills down? I’m proud to say that every year, our heating and electricity bills have been just a little lower than the year before. We’ve done this through a combination of behavior changes and new gadgets for the home. What can you do to keep your heating bills low too?

Do a fall furnace cleaning. While we’re supposed to clean our furnace filters regularly, many of us don’t. While you’re at it, get your home air ducts cleaned too. Cleaning out a furnace can result in better air quality in the home and a higher efficiency furnace.

Get a new furnace. Now, if your old furnace is perfectly serviceable, don’t go out and buy a new one. But if it’s time, then choose a furnace that’s high efficiency. These furnaces will save vast quantities of money and energy on heating bills because they are so much more efficient than the ancient beasts many of us have in our homes.

Give your water heater a blankie. Unless you have a tankless or on demand hot water heater, you likely have a lot of water standing around getting heated all day. Winter is a time when we love to have hot baths and showers. Keep that energy in the water, not in the air of your basement by getting a water heater insulating blanket.

Go on a search for leaks around the home. If possible, get a professional to do this with a blower door test. This will reveal hidden sources of leaks, and the professional will often recommend the best ways to fix the problems and the easiest and least expensive problems to fix. Common quirks include inadequate insulation behind

Put a roof on it! Some of our attics are so poorly insulated that it’s as if you have a giant hole in your roof. It’s often very worthwhile to add insulation up there so that the heat that heats your home is not heating the air above your home as well.

Turn down the heat, sneaky-style. Use a programmable thermostat that turns the heat down when you sleep. Invest in a good quilt, some warm jammies, and snuggle up with those you love, whether human or animal companions.

House train yourself. Think of the cold air that flies in the door every time you open those doors. It’s easy to leave the door open when you’re chatting with a neighbor or taking out the garbage. Break the habit, and your furnace and your heat bills will thank you.
Get a wool sweater. Now, you don’t need to wear a thick scarf and mittens in the house, but winter is time for sweaters. Instead of walking around in a tank top and shorts at home, dress up and watch your energy savings grow!

Cuddle up for the winter in a cozy home, with some energy conservation flair. By winter-proofing a home and winter-proofing your energy conservation habits, you can save both money and energy this winter.

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