As the autumnal air slowly begins to gather that icy edge, most people begin thinking about staying warm in the cold winter months ahead. Traditional wisdom for those already thinking frugal is to find an alternative source of heat instead of relying upon expensive fossil fuel driven heating. This thought process is likely to have become more popular in light of the seemingly incessant increase in global oil. With the threat of an energy crunch looming on the horizon, people from all walks of life have begun looking for alternative methods of heating.
The first thought many people have is to burn wood as a heat source. While this method of heating can be effective, economical, and renewable you need to do your homework prior to jumping on the wood burning bandwagon. If you have a traditional fireplace in your home, you probably have the most in-efficient wood heating method available. Nearly 80% of the heat from a fireplace goes straight up the flue. Obtaining a freestanding wood stove that utilizes a flue damper is likely your best bet if you decide to rely upon wood burning as your primary heat source. If you cannot spare the room necessary to install a freestanding wood burning stove, then you might consider upgrading your current fireplace to a more modern efficient unit. The fireboxes in these units are designed to better retain heat as well as being equipped with fans to blow the radiant heat out into the room.
Not everyone has the option of burning wood. Many people will still need to rely on their current method as their primary heat source. The good news is that there are ways that they can provide additional heating by being more frugal. Here are a few ideas that might help you weather the winter months in warmth.
Hot Water…Warm Home
We are all familiar with water heaters in our homes. It seems a large waste to only use the energy to heat the water and not heat our homes. One great way to add some additional heat to your home only means a slight change in housekeeping habits. Instead of cleaning the dishes in the dishwasher instead of when everyone is asleep, use it in the morning when things tend to be the chilliest. The radiant heat produced by the dishwasher will help warm things up a bit. When the cycle is finished, open the door to the washer and allow all that hot air and steam to escape into your home, instead of down your drain. The added moisture to the air will help humidify your home saving you money by keeping your humidifier turned off.
Yet another way to heat your home during harvest time is to place a pot of water on the stovetop and turn the burner on low. The heat from the stovetop will also heat the kitchen a bit and as the water is heats and evaporates, it will add moisture and heat to your home too.
Another method of making double duty use of your water heater is to keep the vent fan turned off during baths and showers. When you are done toweling dry, open the door and let the heat and moisture escape into the rest of your house. In a couple of minutes the mirror should be clear enough to use properly and you have used your water heater to heat more than your water.
Holding Hot Air Hostage in your Home
The biggest reason for high heating costs in most homes is heat loss. Most heat loss occurs due to drafts in the home. Typically, this happens mostly around windows and doors. While it might not be the best time of year to have your windows replaced, here are some things you can do to cauterize the cold air crevasses in your home.
Place rolled up towels or blankets at the base of doors to keep the draft at bay. These rolls will act as a make shift weather stripping of sorts helping keep warm air in and cold air out. This is especially helpful during the winter months as the cold winds howl outside. If your weather stripping is not up to par, these rolled towels will help insulate your home.
When you do the laundry, a great deal of heat can escape your home through the dryer vent. Take the time to invest in a heat saving dryer vent. This type of vent has a one way valve of sorts that keeps cold air from blowing in. You will lose some heat due to the nature of a dryer vent, but you will help keep the cold from penetrating your home so easily. Some people have gone so far as to use porous flexible heat tubes that allow the air to permeate but not the lint from the dryer. This helps heat the walls or floors (depending upon where it is run), effectively using the heat from the dryer.
As Old Man Winter begins to tighten his grip, finding ways to keep his probing finger out of your house is only prudent. Learning ways to deny him access while not spending large amounts of cash…well…that makes cents.