By Barbara Pronin
High winter heating bills can make mincemeat of your budget. But a few surprising tricks can help keep you toasty warm this winter and keep heating costs under control.
Home improvement experts suggest trying these seven ploys:
• Service the furnace — Seems like a no-brainer, but many homeowners forget or put off having the furnace checked each fall. Being certain that your system is working efficiently can help save you big bucks.
• Flip the ceiling fan — Warm air rises. While it may seem odd to have the ceiling fan on in cold weather, flipping the switch to spin in a clockwise manner will help to warm up the room.
• Reflect the radiator — If you have radiators in your home, place a sheet of aluminum foil behind each one. The radiator will heat the foil, which will reflect heat back into the room.
• Put a stop to drafty doors — Warm air escapes and cold air enters from the space under your front door. Stop the leakage with a piece of foam pipe insulation cut to the right size. It’s lightweight and easy to remove and reuse as needed.
• Put a jacket on your water heater — According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save an average of $20 a month on your heating bill just by wrapping your water heater in an insulating blanket, available at most home stores.
• Consider the cost of exhaust — Using the exhaust fan is a good way to remove humid air from the bathroom after showering. But turn it off as soon as feasible. Using the fans for long periods can run up your heating bill because the warm air pulled out is replaced with cold air, which needs to be heated.
• Let the sun shine in — Many families leave their blinds or drapes closed when they leave home for the day. Letting the daytime sun in — especially in south-facing rooms — can bring in enough warmth to help your rooms stay warmer into the evening even after the window coverings are closed.