1 – Install Programmable Thermostats for Baseboard Heaters
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to heat our homes all day. A programmable thermostat lets you set temperatures for different times of day so your home is toasty warm when you need it to be and cooler when you’re away or sleeping. Programmable thermostats can help you save money on your air conditioner as well, although they’re not for use with heat pumps. By making changes to your thermostat, you can save between 10 and 20 percent on your heating bill. Warms your heart, right?
You can easily install a programmable thermostat yourself, just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. As a rule, you remove the old thermostat and unscrew the wire leads to the terminals on the back then reattach those wires to the new thermostat’s terminals.
Some models can store up to four temperature settings each day – morning, day, evening, and overnight, for example, and all of them have a manual override switch. Choose a lower setting during the times you’ll be sleeping or are typically away from the house, and a higher setting for when you are at home. Some models allow the flexibility to program 5-day and 2-day settings, recognizing that your heating needs during the week might be different than the weekend. Smart thermostats are another option ($75 rebate available) and are becoming more and more popular. These smart devices program themselves and allow you to control your heating system via Wi-Fi – through your phone, tablet, laptop, etc.
If you are using a heat pump you should consult your owner’s manual for instructions to set temperatures. Here’s a quick guide to help you program your thermostat for maximum savings without sacrificing comfort:
- 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. = 68 degrees F/ 20 degrees C
- 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. = 60 degrees F/ 15 degrees C
- 5:30 to 11 p.m. = 68 degrees/20 degrees C
- 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. = 60 degrees/15 degrees C
For Air Conditioning
- 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. = 75 degrees F/ 24 degrees C
- 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. = 80 degrees F/ 26 degrees C
- 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. = 75 degrees F/ 24 degrees C
- 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. = 80 degrees / 26 degrees C
Check out these helpful videos from Efficiency Nova Scotia for more information:
2 – Turn Down Thermostat
Turning down your thermostat may sound like a pretty obvious tip but did you know that for each degree you lower the thermostat you also lower your heating bill by 3 percent? You won’t really notice much change in comfort if you go from 72 degrees F/ 22 degrees C down to 68 degrees F/ 20 degree C but it means a 12 percent savings on your heating bill.
3 – Close Off Unused Rooms
Put cold its place by closing the doors of any unused rooms of your house. Shutting internal doors prevents cold air from circulating through the rest of your house while containing heat in the rooms you are using, keeping things warm and cozy.
4 – Prevent Heat Loss Through Fireplaces
A roaring fire can be romantic but there’s nothing to love about the amount of heat lost up your chimney. Amazingly, an open fireplace damper lets the same volume of heated air escape up the chimney as a wide-open 48-inch window. While it may feel toasty warm next to the fireplace, that fire sends over 20,000 cubic feet of heated air per hour straight outside. So for every BTU of warm air that goes up the chimney, you still need to heat the cold air that’s left in the house.
In addition to reducing the number of fires you have per week, make sure your flu is closed when you’re not using the fireplace. You also might consider installing a set of glass fireplace doors that prevent large amounts of warm air from the living room going up the chimney but still allow you to enjoy the glow of the fire.
If your fireplace is purely decorative and no longer used, a chimney balloon or a woolen chimney insulator are inexpensive and easy ways to block any cold air coming down the chimney and any warm air from escaping outside.
Interested in installing a wood furnace? Check out our Green Heat rebates!
5 – Cover Floors
Rugs and carpets may seem like stylish home accessories but they have a much more practical energy saving function – they’re insulators. Bare floors can account for as much as 10% of heat loss, not to mention how it feels to have cold feet. Wooden floors with gaps or cracks should be treated with a silicone-based filler to prevent drafts. A pair of warm and fuzzy slippers helps too!
6 – Set Ceiling Fans to Rotate Clockwise
Ceiling fans may seem like a no-brainer in the hot summer months but by reversing the switch on your ceiling fan to clockwise during the winter and running the fan at its lowest speed, you can help keep warm air where you want it – down to earth. This is especially helpful in keeping rooms warm if you have cathedral or high-sloped ceilings.
7 – Forget Fashion – Wear Warm Clothes at Home
It’s amazing what a big difference a small gesture like putting on a sweater can make to your energy bill. Before you reach for that thermostat, cuddle up in a warm sweater, put on some cozy socks and slip into comfy slippers. You’ll feel as snug as a bug in a rug knowing your heating costs are frozen.
8 – Rearrange Furniture
Sitting by the window in the summer can offer a lovely view but by winter, drafty windows and cold glass can give you a chill. Make sure large furniture like couches are away from big windows during cold months and that they’re not blocking heat sources like radiators or forced air vents.
9 – Curtain Call
Think of thick curtains as sweaters for your house. They’re one of the main ways to stop heat loss through your windows. Buying curtains with thermal linings can be quite affordable or you can line your existing curtains with material like cheap fleece. Each square foot of window that you insulate at night can save about a gallon of oil a year.
Don’t forget to let the sun shine in! Sunlight is a natural and free form of heat so you should use as much of it as possible by keeping curtains and window shades open during the day. Close the curtains again at dusk to make sure the heat stays in and the cold stays out.
10 – Change Your Furnace Filter
If you have a forced-air furnace, changing the filter can save up to 5 percent on your energy bill, reduce dust in the house, and keep your furnace running in shipshape condition. Measure your air filter before shopping – they range in size from 12 x 12 inches to 30 x 30 inches, with the most popular being 16 x 20. It can work out to about 50 cents per filter when you buy by the box so you can change them monthly during the winter months. There are also reusable washable filters that can last up to five years.
If you have an electricity-powered forced air system, you may be eligible for rebates to supplement your heating system with a heat pump, wood furnace or stove, or pellet stove.
11 – Install Door Sweep
Cold air can be very sneaky, especially when it comes to outside doors. There are a few simple ways you can stop under-door drafts COLD. The first way can be both decorative and practical. Sometimes called ‘sausage dogs’ or ‘door snake’, they’re long, round fabric tubes that are filled with fabric, rice, or even gravel. Your grandparents probably had them in their houses. You can often buy them at craft fairs or even make them yourself using an old pair of tights or leftover fabric. You then place your ‘sausage dog’ at the bottom of the door to keep heat from escaping and cold air (or even snow!) from getting in.
You can also install a door sweep. It’s a long, thing, broom-like attachment that you install on the inside bottom edge of your door. You can find them at your local hardware store and they’re very inexpensive to install.
12 – Upgrade to Energy Efficient Heating and Enjoy the Good Things Efficiency Brings
Heating makes up half the energy bill in most Nova Scotian homes, making it the single largest use of energy for most of us. Efficient heating systems can save you money, by using less energy.
Efficiency Nova Scotia’s green heat program can help you upgrade your home’s heating equipment while we help with the rebates. To learn more about qualifying products and rebates visit: https://www.efficiencyns.ca/service/home-heating/