Seems like winter has snuck up on us and it is down-right cold all of a sudden. Just as we add a sweater and a jacket to ourselves to protect us from the elements, we need to "dress" our homes just as importantly to keep our house safe from Old Man Winter...
1. Run Ceiling Fans In Reverse - This is a super easy item to both do and to forget to do...Most ceiling fans have a small switch which allows the direction of the fan to run opposite of what we use during warm months. Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes, while switching to clockwise makes it warmer. Air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space—cutting your heating costs as much as 10 percent!
2. Turn Down Your Water Heater - While many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit by installers, most households don't need that much steam, and end up paying for it—in dollars and the occasional scalding burn. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (or lower) would reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10 percent.
3. Dodge The Draft - According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5 to 30 percent of your energy use. Start simple and adopt that old Great Depression fixture—the draft snake, which you can easily make yourself. Just place a rolled bath towel under a drafty door, or make a more attractive DIY draft snake with googly eyes, felt tongues and the like. You can use any scraps of fabric, even neckties, and fill with sand or kitty litter for heft.
4. Take Advantage Of The Sun - Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
5. Maintain Your Heating System - Schedule service for your heating system. Furnaces and heat pumps need their filters replaced once a month.
6. Insulate Your Pipes - Pay less for hot water by insulating pipes. That can also help decrease the chance of pipes freezing, which can be disastrous. Check to see if your pipes are warm to the touch. If so, they are good candidates for insulation. (Use the same method to determine if your hot water heater would benefit from some insulation.)
You can get pre-slit pipe foam at most hardware stores. Cut it to size and fasten in place with duct tape. Ideally, choose the insulation with the highest R-value practical, which is a measure of its heat-blocking power. Pipe insulation is often R-3, or, for batt styles that you wrap around, a stronger R-7.