Winter time has been the biggest challenge for my house hold in past years. the age of my home doesn't make it any easier. the first winter we were here our furnace went out, this lead to a discovery of just how expensive using electric heating solutions is. This post and any to follow are going to be about winterizing various components of your home for maximum heat retention. some of these can save you money year round by making some of your systems work more effectively thus making them cheaper to operate. As with most of my postings there will be the usual free cheap and expensive sections, although it is hard to do much for free when it comes to home maintenance I will put in my share of effort in finding method for you to utilize.
The keywords for this post are: air leakage , radiant heat loss.
The principle of heating your home is keeping the hot air where you want it and the cold where you want it. Thus if your home leaks cold air in, you furnace will have to work twice as hard to heat. Air sealing is a method where you reduce the amount of exterior air from entering your home thus keeping the tempature fluctuations low. Weather stripping around doors and caulking around windows are the most common methods. I personally use plastic sheeting create an air gap between the cold air outside and the warm air inside. In my case I could see the plastic sheeting inflate as the cold air moved in and was stopped. I would rate all of these methods on the cheap side if things and you can do them spread across the warmer months.
You own a water heater I'm sure, but is the heat from your water heater being retained throughout the system? If your water heater is warm on the outside then the answer is probably no. This can be fixed by a trip to your hardware store which will probably stock insulation blankets made for water heaters, while you are there pick up some pipe insulation as well. Because losing heat into the air is not always a good thing. This also fall into the cheap section, less the $100 bucks over the warmer months to add lasting savings to your home.
Zone isolation, reducing the area you are trying to heat by closing off the least used rooms from the main area. By heating less area you will have lower cycling of your heating system and use less over all energy. This can be achieved by closing doors and putting a towel at the bottom. Having rugs on hard surfaces will help with heat loss through the floor.
Another common theme you will see is dress for the season. As it is said you can always put in more clothing. Blankets and sweaters will help to reduce you energy costs by allowing you to lower the tempature in your home. Cats and warm beverages are a commonly employed method in my home as well. Tea is inexpesive, coffee is slightly more expensive but may boost your productivity.
The most expensive of my methods is adding insulation to exterior walls. Blown in insulation is the simplest method as you can drill holes large enough to fit the hose in and give it all it will take. The ABC method, or attics crawlspace and basements are where much of your tempature shifts will come from. They often have large seams where they are joined to the home and will benifit greatly from any extra insulation you can give them.