How to Minimize Energy Use in Your Home During a Polar Vortex

    Winters in the Hudson Valley can get real expensive when it comes to energy costs. The amount of energy required to heat your home increases when temperatures drop. The greater the difference between the temperature outside and the thermostat setting inside, the harder your heating system will work and the more energy it will use. This is true even if you don’t raise the heat lossthermostat setting.    This is especially true for homes that don’t have enough insulation, homes with single-paned or aluminum-framed windows, and homes with a lot of air leaks around windows, doors, and plumbing & electrical boxes.

    There are many ways to minimize your energy use during a cold snap like setting your thermostat back during peak hours. Each degree you lower it can save up to 2% on your heating bill.  Set it even lower when you are away or asleep but be sure to keep your house at least 55 degrees at all times to prevent pipes from freezing and to avoid moisture problems.

    Use portable space heaters wisely.  If you spend most of your time in one or two rooms, using space heaters to keep those rooms warmer, and turning your furnace down to let the rest of the house stay cooler, can help save energy. A typical space heater uses 1,500 watts of electricity and an electric furnace uses 10 times that much. 

    Feel that draft? That cold air you feel coming in means that warm, cozy air is going out. Get rid of drafts.  Keeping windows and doors closed, and use caulk or weather stripping to seal leaks around windows, doors, and plumbing penetrations.

    Cover your windows with plastic.  Tight fitting, insulated window coverings can help minimize heat loss through the windows.  Keep curtains and blinds closed unless the sun is shining directly on the glass.

    Have your furnace serviced to see if filters need to be cleaned or replaced.  Dirty or clogged filters make your furnace work harder, increasing energy usage. Upgrade your heating system. If you heat your home with electric resistant heat (electric furnace, baseboards, plug in heaters, etc.), consider upgrading to a much more efficient heat pump or ductless heat pump.

    Check your insulation levels.  If your home is poorly insulated, adding insulation will lower your energy bills.  If you heat with electricity, ask about rebates for insulation upgrades.

   If you live in South Florida……….never mind.


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