Be Heat Wise

There are lots of clever ways to keep your home warm and reduce the work of your heater.  Simple things like opening drapes to let the sunshine in during the day and then closing them at night can save energy and money.

Easy
Households: 1 completed, 1 committed
100
Points ?
$0
Annual Savings
$0 - $0
Upfront Cost
These are estimates
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Energy and water savings

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0
kWh Electricity
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5
Therms Natural Gas
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0
Gallons Gas
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0
Gallons Water
  • Reduce energy use by up to 10% and save money
  • Prolong the lifetime of your furnace
  • Reduce carbon emissions and air pollution

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Overview

The Action
We will use the drapes and other easy actions to lower our heating energy use.
Is this action for me?
Yes!  Anyone can do this action.
When and Who?
This action can be done any time and is generally a do-it-yourself action.
How long will it take?
Quick - just a few minutes to adjust the drapes, a bit extra if you upgrade to new drapes.
What is the cost?
No costs required, potential additional costs if you decide to purchase new drapes or plant a tree.

Benefits

  • Reduce energy use by up to 10% and save money

  • Prolong the lifetime of your furnace

  • Reduce carbon emissions and air pollution

The Basics

We all know that insulation helps a home to stay warm and reduce heating costs. However, there are some other clever tricks that can also help to keep your home warm and lower your energy requirements for heating in the winter. Simple things like curtains, rugs and landscaping can help you save both energy and money.

Checklist

Use curtains to warm your home
Adjust awnings to let the sunshine in
Plant deciduous trees to create warmth and shade
Use ceiling fans to circulate heat
Make sure your vents are clear
Cover bare floors with rugs or carpet
Block heat from escaping up your chimney
Avoid heating unoccupied areas

Use curtains to keep your home warm 

One of the most effective ways to keep your home warm is by using drapes.  Think of the drapes as insulation for your windows!  During the day when the sun is hitting the windows, keep the drapes open to let the sunshine warm your home.  Then when the sun goes down, or for windows that don’t receive sunlight (like north-facing windows), keep them closed to keep the heat in.  When choosing drapes for the winter, look for mid to heavyweight drapes that will provide good insulation.  Normal draperies can reduce heat loss up to 10% in the winter.  To be most effective, the drapes should be hung as close to the window as possible and fall onto the windowsill or floor.  

Shades work the same way as curtains - open them when the sun is shining and close them at night.  For extra efficiency, invest in extra insulating dual shades where one side is white and one is dark.  Face the dark side out during the winter to absorb more heat, and inside during the summer to reflect more heat.  Blinds are not as effective at retaining heat as curtains or shades; however, they can be more effective and flexible in reducing heat in the summer.  If your climate has more extreme heat than cold, blinds might work for you.  Learn more about energy efficient window coverings.

Adjust awnings to let the sunshine in

Just like curtains, outside awnings can block the sun into your home.  During the winter months, particularly on south-facing windows, retract or remove awnings to let the sunshine in!

Plant deciduous trees to create warmth and shade

Like awnings, make sure your trees aren’t blocking the sunshine from coming in your windows in the winter.  Deciduous trees have leaves in the summer, but drop them in the winter.  If you plant deciduous trees near south or west facing windows you can save heating energy during the winter months and have shade in the summer to keep your house cool.

Make sure your vents are clear and your heat is circulating

The heat from your heater doesn’t do as much good if it’s not circulating around your house.  First check to make sure nothing is blocking your heating vents.  Move furniture and drapes away from vents to allow unrestricted heat flow and protect from potential fire hazards.  You can also help your heater circulate warm air with a ceiling fan.  In the winter, set your ceiling fan to rotate in a clockwise direction, and it will push warm air that has collected near the ceiling back down into the room. Just remember to turn the fans off when you leave a room to avoid wasting energy.

Warm your floors!  

Cover bare floors to maximize heat retention.  Carpeting or rugs add to your comfort, and are especially helpful blocking the chill.  They are useful for any home, but especially helpful when you have little or no floor insulation.  If your floors are really cold, consider adding floor insulation.

Block heat from escaping up your chimney

If you have a fireplace, when not in use, be sure to close the flue (check to ensure there are no embers first) to keep the cold air out and the hot air in.  To add extra protection, install glass doors and keep them closed.  If you have retired your fireplace for good, install rigid insulation in the chimney to block heat loss around the damper.

Avoid heating unoccupied areas

If you have rooms in your home that are not used often, such as a spare bedroom, try closing the door and blocking off the vent in that room to reduce energy use.  Some vents have a switch that closes the louvers, or you could use magnetic vent covers which are found in many home improvement stores.  Caution: never close off more than 25% of your vents at any given time, you could damage the heating system. Check your owner's manual for more information.