For many of us, our energy bills rise as the thermostat falls. This need not be the case – there are some practical ways that we can make the most of the available energy and reduce the winter utilities. Here is a room by room approach to beating the cold – and the bills! The kitchen
For ranges and ovens, use pots and pans that fit the burners, grill instead of bake when possible and use the kitchen exhaust fan when cooking for better air quality and moisture control.
- Run the dishwasher only when fully loaded or use energy saving settings for partial loads.
- Keep the refrigerator door closed and make sure the seal doesn't leak.
Disconnect or shut off unneeded or unused equipment like DVD players, televisions and stereos. For lighting, take advantage of sunlight and turn off lights not being used. If possible, use fluorescent bulbs, which last about 10 years.
- Put furnishings against cold walls for added insulation, and brighten up a room with a warm carpet.
- Use window treatments to reduce heat loss. Let the sun in when it shines but keep window shades down or closed when it's cold outside and at night.
When doing laundry, use cold water for most items, adjust water levels to fit the load size. Clean the lint filter after every dryer load and don't overload the dryer, as items will take longer to dry.
The dryer's exhaust on the outside of your house needs a periodic cleaning. A partly blocked vent means longer drying times and the use of more than- necessary current.
Your washer and dryer will perform best when full but not overloaded. Sort clothes by weight for drying, and dry them in consecutive batches to make use of the heat which has already built up in your dryer. Check the lint screen often and remove accumulations of fluff. Or air- and sun-dry your clothes outdoors on a line!
You can cut heating costs as much as 15% just by turning the thermostat down at bedtime. Use quilts, warm night wear and, if you like, furry bedfellows to take the bite out of chilly winter nights. Since moist air holds heat better than dry, your home will stay warmer at less cost, if you keep its relative humidity at 35 to 40%. A humidifier is ideal but a bowl of warm water —or a good collection of houseplants—will also help.
- Layer Your Bedding: Pile on an extra blanket or duvet for cozy warmth.
- Use a Hot Water Bottle: A classic way to keep your feet warm.
- Add Rugs: Warm up your floor with a soft rug underfoot.
- Hang a Robe Near Your Bed: Keep warmth nearby for cold winter mornings.
- Wear Slippers: They keep your feet warm and your floors clean!
Containers for warmth in bed were in use as early as the 16th century. the earliest versions contained hot coals from the dying embers of the fire used to warm the bed before retiring. Prior to the invention of rubber, early hot water bottles were made of zinc, copper, glass, earthenware or wood.