Everyone’s heard the news and are fearing the rising oil prices and the price of heating oil along with it, too. While there is no hope to personally adjust the oil costs, there’s plenty we can do to help you get the most warmth from every heating dollar– from providing expert heating system maintenance to advice on how keeping your house weather tight and energy efficient.
Conservation is your most powerful tool in lowering energy costs.
You can save hundreds of dollars on your home energy bill just by being smart about how you consume energy.
1. Heating system tune-up – To get the most value from the heating oil you buy – and cut your fuel bill by as much as 5%– schedule a tune-up of your heating system once a year. Find your local heating technician today..
2. Keep the kitchen hot – Bake a lot of stuff. Breads, rolls, cakes, cookies, roasted chickens – all the things you avoid in the summer time because it makes the kitchen too hot.
3. Skirt the foundation – You can help insulate your house by sealing off the exposed portion of your basement or foundation with plastic, or leaves, or bales of hay – even snow.
4. Wear a sweater – Heck, wear a turtleneck and a sweater. Or a nice fleece pullover. It’s cheaper for your body to do the heating than your furnace.
5. Coffee, tea, cocoa – Hot drinks will warm you up. The added hydration you get from drinks like tea or beef bullion also help your body “burn” calories more efficiently which helps keep you warm.
6. Snuggle – Make up some popcorn, get the whole family on the couch cuddled up under a big blanket, and watch old movies like Ice Station Zebra.
7. Upgrade an old heating system – Replacing an old system with a new one is an investment that will pay for itself by cutting your fuel costs by as much as 40%.
8. Seal your windows – Caulk around loose panes. Add weather stripping between sashes and sills. Drafty windows can be covered with a tight layer of polyurethane plastic sheeting.
9. Winter sports are for everyone – Hike, skate, cross country or down hill ski, snow shoe, sled, toboggan, make a snowman, go bird watching, have a snow ball fight – you’ll warm up while you’re saving by lowering your thermostat.
10. Clear the way – Make sure that armchairs, couches, drapes, bookshelves, etc. are not blocking your baseboards, making it harder for warmth to get to the rest of the room.
11. Play with your thermostat – Lower the setting when you go to bed, raise it when you wake up, lower it when you’re not going to be home, raise when you return.
12. Weather-tight doors – All four sides of external doors need to be weather tight. Use rubberized weather stripping around the edges to keep out the cold winter wind.
13. Magic carpets – Carpeting and area rugs add a layer of insulation (about 1.3 R value) to floors keeps your feet warm.
14. Let the sun shine in – “Southern exposure” gives you some very basic passive solar. Consider thinning evergreens if they block the sun on the south side of your house.
15. Replace problem windows – Old windows with serious heat loss issues should be swapped for new ones. Ask your local lumberyard for information on replacement windows.
16. Insulate, Insulate, Insulate – Today’s homes are much better insulated than homes built 30 or even 15 years ago. Still it’s well worth taking an insulation inventory. You’ll find lots of do-it-yourself books on insulation at your local hardware store, too.
17. Soup’s On! – A nice hot soup or stew or chowder for dinner, especially one that you simmer all day on the stove top adding warmth to your home.
18. Stormy weather? Storm door. A weather tight storm door and a weatherized solid door make a great combination. The storm door stops wind, and the trapped air between the doors provides insulation.
19. Foam Tip No. 1 – Most hardware stores carry spray cans of foam insulation with easy instructions on how to seal off outlets, switches, and junction boxes on outside facing walls.
20. Window quilts – Consider thick thermal window quilts to help keep your home warmer by adding another layer of “dead air” insulation in your window casings.
21. Don’t linger – The average open door makes a 21 square-foot hole in the wall. You save on fuel if you’re quick about entering or exiting
22. Foam Tip No. 2 – Use foam rubber pipe insulation to insulate any piping that is near the outside walls of the house.
23. Flew clue – Once your fireplace fire or woodstove fire is totally out and is cool to the touch, close the damper to stop your home heating dollars from flying up the chimney.
24. Stay in good shape – Your body can create its own warmth more efficiently when you’re in shape.
25. Clean those baseboards — Vacuum the heating pipes and their heat dispersing vanes inside your baseboard units to help them transfer heat to the room air more efficiently.
26. Eat protein – Foods that are high in protein like fish, meat, cheese, and nuts actually boost your body’s ability to produce its own heat.
27. Clear those baseboards — Be sure to keep rugs slightly away from baseboards so that air can pass through the bottom of the baseboard in order to force warm air out of the top.
28. Cool clothes – Keep your closet doors closed. There’s over 100 cubic feet in a closet you don’t need to pay extra to keep warm.
29. Draw the shades, shut the light – Close all of your curtains and shades at night to trap heat inside; open them during the day to let heat from the sun in.
30. Have you got everything? Make sure you have your car keys and everything else you need when you step outside so you only have to open the door once.
31. Thermostat savvy – Adjust your temperature setting by moving it just 2 degrees at a time. Or if you’re calling for heat, raise the setting slowly, and stop when you hear your furnace start.
32. Keep your windows clean – Be sure to keep windows on the south side of your house regularly clean to maximize solar gain.
33. Make your waterbed every day – Make up your waterbed every day. The sheets, blankets, and bed spread will help insulate the water so you won’t have to pay quite so much to heat it.
34. Invest in a high-efficiency oil-fired water heater. Ask your oil dealer about an indirect water heater system, which can give you a nearly endless supply of hot water. (Oil heat is very cost-efficient at making hot water.)
35. Go for a walk – You can set your thermostat down five degrees, grab your hat and your mittens and go outside for a good invigorating walk around your block.
36. A friend is worth 500 Btu’s per hour – Invite a bunch of friends over for a pot luck dinner. Humans give off approximately 500 Btu’s every hour. Put enough people in the room, and you can heat it with human power. Not to mention the warmth of having your friends and family getting together.
Be smart, stay warm, save money — and we’ll get through this winter together. Make these “Smart Energy” strategies part of your winter plan, and then come home to the warmth of Oil heat.