By Mel Oldakowski
To say it's freezing outside would be an understatement. We're all feeling the effects of this brutal Maine winter; and for those looking to reduce your heating bill without a big investment, here are a few tips.
Be sure to use the correct ventilation.
Replace bathroom exhaust vent switches with timer switches so vents will not be left on accidently and vent only when needed.
Winter air tends to be dry, so if you don't mind a little less privacy, open your bathroom door and let the steam escape into the house instead. Make sure bathroom fans/vents have baffles/draft blockers on the outside so you don't have cold air blowing back into the house.
If you have heated floors turn off the ceiling fans but if you have forced air heat, turn them on.
Close the doors and vents in unused rooms if you are trying to reduce heating costs or keep your living space warmer in an emergency.
Get heat where it’s needed.
If you have radiators, line the inside of the exterior wall with tinfoil. This will reflect some heat back inside.
Double check to make sure you aren't blocking airflow from forced air vents with furniture or other objects, and that the vents are open where you need heat.
If you have a chimney and are not using it, make sure its flue and draft (if it has both) are closed. Open chimneys can suck the heat right out of your home. This is one of the biggest issues with open fireplaces – too much heat loss from the room. Consider blocking the chimney with a fireplace insert for insulation to reduce heat loss if it will be unused indefinitely – just don't forget to take it out if you use it again.
Insulate hot water/radiator pipes and duct work running through non-living areas. You don't want that heat dumped in a crawl space or utility area you want it to get your house warm.
Attic access can be the source of large amounts of heat loss so make sure your attic access is well insulated.
Don't let the cold radiate up from your floor. A non-insulated floor can cause more than 10 percent heat loss in a home. This is especially important if your home is on a slab. Insulate the floor with warm rugs or carpets.
In extreme cold, hang blankets along the wall, even where there aren't windows because the wall can radiate cold through it if the insulation isn't good enough. If this happens regularly you need to check your wall insulation.
Reduce window heat loss.
Uncover the south facing windows to let in solar heat on sunny days.
Add interior window insulating kits, insulating shades, and curtains. You can purchase these items inexpensively online and in most major stores. If you have very large window, you can tape a large clear shower curtain to the inside (just past the frame). It will allow sun in during the day and still provide an air gap to reduce heat loss.
Never forget your Realtor can always be a great resource, and may have pull, should you need an experienced contractor. We are always available and willing to help.