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Thermostat setting: What's your number?

Posted January 22

Weatherstripping

With the freezing temperatures we are experiencing right now, your HVAC system is working hard to keep the house warm. Here are some ideas to keep your heating bills lower without turning you into a popsicle.

Where do you set the thermostat in the winter?

We keep the thermostat at 68 for most of the winter months. I'd go lower, but the guinea pig said that it wasn't a good idea and she would revolt if I made it any colder. When Acorn revolts, it's not pretty.

Here are some frugal things you can do to stay warm this winter. Please share any other ideas you have!

1. Set the thermostat at a frugal setting: By setting your thermostat at 66-68 degrees in the colder months and 78-80 degrees in the hotter months, you can easily cut heating and cooling costs. According to the Department of Energy’s “Automatic and Programmable Thermostats Fact Sheet,” setting your thermostat back 10 degrees for eight hours (while you are sleeping, for instance) can save up to 10% off your annual heating bill. If you own a heat pump, though, setting the thermostat at a moderate temperature and keeping it there is usually most cost-efficient. If you are too warm or too cold, adjust your own attire.

2. Make your windows more energy-efficient: An inexpensive way to seal windows against the cold and heat is to install clear sheets of plastic specially designed for sealing. You can also add inexpensive window tint to cut down on the amount of heat coming through windows during the warmer months. A more expensive option is to add permanent storm windows with sliding glass and screens. Finally, you can replace your older windows with double-paned windows that have argon gas between the panes. The argon gas acts as an insulator because it is a poor conductor of heat. Visit your local home improvement center for more information on these energy-efficient ideas.

3. Improve insulation: Improve the insulation of the walls and floors that separate the inside of your house from attics, basements, crawl spaces and outside walls. There are many types of insulation, with varied R-Value (resistance to heat loss) ratings. Check with your local home improvement center for recommendations on how to better insulate your home.

4. Add weatherstripping: Weatherstripping is an easy and fairly simple way to reduce energy bills. Add weatherstripping to all your doors and windows. By preventing outside air from coming in through cracks and leaks you may be able to cut your heating and cooling bill by 20% or more.

5. Use a draft stopper at the bottom of doors.

6. Seal any leaks around pipes under sinks.

7. Replace or clean your furnace filters every month: Keeping the furnace and air conditioner filters unclogged allows your heating and cooling system to operate more efficiently and last longer.

8. Have your HVAC unit serviced annually to make sure the evaporator and condenser coils are clean and that the coolant levels are within the specs for your unit.

9. Use passive solar energy: In the winter, allow sun to heat your house by opening blinds and curtains and trimming trees that shade your windows. At night, close the blinds and curtains to keep the heat in. In the summer, keep shades and blinds closed to keep the warm sunlight out. Use awnings over windows to produce more shade. You should also plant trees to shade the air conditioning unit. A shaded air conditioner will use 10% less energy than one in direct sun.

Check out the articles from Bankrate.com and energy.gov for more information and resources.

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