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Dial It Down, Seal It Up… and Save

HOSS Construction Editor Bryan Baeumler helps you save money on your winter heating bill with good advice about easy fixes and upgrades

Try these five simple tips to lower your energy bill this winter.

1 If you have programmable thermostat, use it. If you don’t, you should invest in one for your home. These types of thermostats contribute big savings to your heating bill. When you are out of the house during the day, and also when you are sleeping at night, set your thermostat for a lower temperature. During the hours you are at home, have it programmed for a higher temperature setting so that you and your family are comfortable while spending time together. By keeping your house warmer only when you need it to be, you’ll conserve energy and save money.

2 Make sure you have sufficient insulation in your attic. This is an important thing that many homeowners forget, especially if your home is older. Pay attention to your roof after the first big snowfall. If you see a buildup of snow on your roof, that’s a good sign—it means your attic is correctly insulated. If you don’t have a build-up of snow, and you see that your neighbour does, it means you are losing heat through your roof, causing the snow to melt. If you think your attic might need some insulation, hire a company to come and check it out and make sure everything is up to code for the winter.

3 Check your doors and windows for drafts. Overlooking simple air-sealing jobs is a mistake I see all the time. If corrected, it can help lower heating costs for your home. If you feel a draft coming through your doors or windows, you should replace the old weather stripping. This will stop outside air from coming into your home. Any hardware store will sell a selection of replacement seals in metal, foam, felt and plastic. Also, take a trip outside your house to check to see if your windows are caulked properly. If there is no caulking, or the sealant is cracked or peeling, it needs to be replaced. Remember, you will need to caulk both the exterior and interior sides of the window.

4 Always make sure you replace your furnace filter before you start it up! It’s a simple thing to do, but a lot of homeowners forget. Another good idea is to give your furnace a trial run before winter is in full swing to ensure everything is working smoothly. I find that problems occur when you haven’t used your furnace in a while and you try running it on the first cold day of the year. To avoid this issue, try running it during the fall to determine if there is a malfunction. If your furnace needs servicing, you can call an HVAC specialist and get it taken care of before the sub-zero temperatures hit.

5 Run your fan to keep your temperature steady. Most HVAC systems can be set to run on different settings: heat, cool or fan. Running the fan even without heating or cooling helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the house by circulating existing warm air and preventing cold spots.