Housing

6 Green (and Easy) Ways to Heat Your Home

Heating your home this winter doesn’t have to cost a bundle. The six easy tips below can not only help you keep warm for less, but they can also make your home a little greener, too.

Adjust your thermostat. The easiest way to curb heating costs is already at your fingertips. Just adjust your thermostat by turning it down when you’re not home. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by turning your thermostat back 10 or 15 degrees for eight hours, you can save 10 percent a year on heating and cooling bills. Installing a programmable thermostat gives you more flexibility when you’re away from home.

Weatherize your home. It’s one of the best ways to keep heat from leaking out of your house – and keeping money in your wallet. Start now by looking for cracks and holes in your foundation, doorways and windows. Apply weatherstripping or caulk to drafty areas to keep the heat in, and it pays for itself in energy savings within a year.

Installing double-paned windows. Homes with old windows can be blamed for adding up to an extra 25% of your heating bill. So upgrade your windows to those made from double-paned glass. Some argon and krypton gas-filled windows have low emissivity coatings on the glass to reduce heat loss. Other specialized windows can help reflect heat back into the room during the winter months. The Department of Energy has a list of brands and models of double-paned windows that have been given its Energy Star brand of approval on its website.

Use fireplace inserts. If you have an older fireplace, you could be losing a good amount of money. That’s because many older fireplaces have open hearths that produce slightly more warm air than they consume, so most of them are only 5 to 10 percent energy efficient. Install a fireplace insert  made from steel plates, cast iron and/or glass to make your fireplace more efficient, and even more attractive.

Invest in a pellet stove. A cousin to the wood-burning stove, pellet stoves are the newest way to heat homes at a wallet-friendly price. Because many are direct-vented, they don’t require a chimney, making them inexpensive to install. The Environmental Protection Agency considers them among the cleanest-burning heating appliances around and exempts them from smoke-emission testing requirements. Pellets made from compacted sawdust or wood chips have higher combustion efficiencies than wood and other fossil fuels. Instead of worrying about the cost of oil deliveries, you can arrange for trucks to deliver pellets, typically sold in 40-pound bags and costing between $120 and $200 a ton (households that rely on pellet-stove heat normally use two to three tons a year).

Use a space heater. In some homes or apartments where central heating may not be practical, you can use a space heater as an alternative. If you’re only looking to heat one room, a space heater, which runs on electricity, can deliver warmth at a fraction of the cost of oil or gas. It also eliminates the risk of overheating a home and wasting costly heating oil.