Heating a home typically accounts for 45 percent of energy bills, making it the largest utility expense for most consumers, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Being aware of potential hazards and using the device that’s most efficient for your needs can make a big difference in safety and comfort. Your electric cooperative offers tips for heating your home in safe and smart ways.
Furnace: Check your furnace at least annually. Removing built-up debris can reduce the risk of fire and make your furnace run more efficiently. Also remember to replace your furnace filter regularly during the winter. Replacing a dirty filter will increase the airflow and make your home more energy efficient.
Thermostat: Turning the thermostat down a few degrees when you are away from home or sleeping also helps reduce your monthly utility bill. To help you do this automatically, consider investing in a programmable thermostat, which can lead to a 10–15 percent reduction in energy costs.
Space heaters: Space heaters are not cost-efficient when used to heat more than one or two small areas. However, they are a smart option when only one room needs to be heated. Make sure that you consider safety first and purchase only certified models that have been tested by an independent laboratory. Always place your space heater on a steady surface away from foot traffic to prevent it from being knocked over, and be on the lookout for units with a tip-over switch.
Electric blankets and heating pads: Make yourself aware of manufacturer’s instructions, and use the product only as it is intended. Never use an electric blanket that is wet, or folded so that the wires are crimped. Perform regular checks to look for scorch marks or visible damage.
Fireplaces: Always make sure that your chimney is clear, and open the damper if there are warm ashes in the hearth that could lead to a dangerous build-up of poisonous gases.
Small-scale strategies: Remember not to overlook minor changes to help you stay warm this winter. When possible, dress in layers, with clothes that are tight and close to the skin so that they can trap heat near the body. Switch the rotation of your ceiling fan that so it circles in a clockwise direction, blowing rising warm air downward. Additionally, use curtains to help block out the cold air when closed at night and to let in the sun’s heat when parted during the day.