Virtually all of us can make our homes more efficient by investing money and/or time in insulation, new equipment etc. However most of us can also save, without any investment, by better management of window treatments and heating vents.
Besides turning down the thermostat, wearing heavier clothes, using warmer blankets etc., proper management of window treatments and heating vents can add up to significant savings.
- Even the best windows do not insulate as well as insulated walls. Therefore, during heating season the window treatments should remain closed to provide an extra layer of insulation - with two exceptions:
1) to allow direct sunlight to enter your home in order to leverage the greenhouse effect. If you have a lot of southern-facing windows, this alone can keep you house comfortable on a cold, sunny day;
2) to allow natural light to enter your home, in order to avoid using artificial light while people are in a room.
- If you are planning to change your window treatments, be advised that horizontal blinds provide the least insulation, compared to heavy shades or draperies. Using both shades and drapes on a window is the best solution for efficiency (except in the below scenario).
- If a heating vent (forced air or baseboard) is beneath a window, shades, not drapes should be used. This is to avoid trapping heated air between the drape and the window, which is very wasteful. If you already have drapes that you want to keep, the vents behind or beneath them should remain closed when the drapes are closed, and if you have forced-air heat, ideally the vents should be covered with a magnetic sheet or similar to seal completely.
- If you have forced-air heat, the louvers of the vents should be angled downward.
- Always keep vents/baseboards closed in unused rooms.
- With most heating systems (with the exception of radiant heat), it will save energy to turn down the thermostat if you will not be home for a minimum of only two hours...if you don't already have one, installing a programmable thermostat, if used properly in this manner, will pay for itself very quickly.
- If you will be away from home for a weekend or longer, the thermostat can be set at 55 degrees in most homes without any risk of damage, and the hot water heater should be set to 'vacation.' You can stand to be cold for a short time upon return!
- While using an outside-vent kitchen exhaust fan, central vacuum or decorative fireplace, crack a window as close as possible to the source of suction. This is to avoid drawing cold outside air through your home from the path of least resistance, which might be your attic.
I look forward to your comments and additional tips.
Stay tuned for tips to save on A/C in the spring!