In the summer, homeowners and renters who pay their own utility (gas & electric) bills do their damnedest to keep down their electrical costs by running the air conditioning less often. While I’m guilty of keeping the air conditioning off as much as I can, instead of just sitting there, sweltering, I’ve taken other steps to help control the ambient temperature inside of our home.
Curtains & window coverings are key. I make sure our drapes aren’t just aesthetically-pleasing — they’re also thick and heavy. On the front windows, which tend to get most of the day’s sun, I use insulated drapes, specially-designed to keep out the heat during the summer, and the cold out during the winter. Behind those I have either roll-down shades or cellular blinds, which filter the sunlight so that it doesn’t heat up like a sauna in those rooms.
In the warmer months, keep the curtains closed and the shades down during daylight hours in order to keep the sun from heating up your home. This tactic keeps the indoor temperature down a few degrees in the summer. Of course, if the weather is extremely hot, just give in and put the air conditioner on! Open up the curtains in the evenings when the temperatures drop to let in the cooler air.
Keeping Out the Cold in Winter
Now that fall is around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how to keep the colder air out and cut down on your heating bills. Our bills were sky-high in our old apartment until we started taking matters into our own hands.
Draw the drapes/shades at night; keep them open during the day. It’s the same sort of drill as in the summer, but reversed. On sunny days during the fall and winter, let all of that warm-ish sunshine in by pulling open the curtains and raising the shades. As long as your windows are properly sealed and weatherproofed, you’ll benefit from the natural warmth of the sun. At night, shut them tightly again to keep the cold, drafty air at bay.
Close unused vents/radiators. We have an unused bedroom and make sure the heating vents are shut — there’s no sense in heating a room that no one’s in. Same goes for radiators — make sure the valves are shut on radiators in areas you don’t use.
Try (safe) space heaters. Instead of heating the entire house, use an oil-filled electric heater to warm the room you’re in. It works especially well if you can close the doors to the room and in those homes that don’t have zoned heat. I like to use a heater in the bedroom on nights when it’s not quite cold enough to heat the entire house. Your electric bill will go up, but the drop in your gas bill will more than make up for it.
Seal up gaps in windows and doors. You can get adhesive weatherstripping at your local home store. It’s easy to install around doorways and windows, and you’ll keep out the drafty air for minimal cost. You can also use a caulking gun to fill in gaps around the window frame itself.
I know it’s kind of soon to think about the cold weather (especially after the hot-and-humid summer many of us had to deal with this year), but it’s worth it to save some money this fall and winter.