Master your thermostat: Tips for smarter, more efficient living this autumn and winter
In the middle of winter, the cold can get people down. They’re tired of the chilly days and wet weather, and when they arrive home, they want to be in a well-heated dwelling where they can be comfortable with their families.
The thermostat in your home may be the bane of your existence. It’s hard not to hold a grudge against it, after all. Sure, it helps you stay comfortable, but this little box on the wall is also responsible for your most expensive utility bills!
Thermostat management doesn’t have to be a nightmare of constant adjustment, concession and second-guessing. Follow these tips and you can set your worries behind you and live a more efficient autumn and winter.
Know your thermostat
Too much energy is wasted by folks who simply don’t know what they’re doing with their thermostat. For instance, did you know that turning your thermostat down just 10 or 15 degrees for eight hours during the day can save you between 5 and 15 percent annually on your heating bills?
Consider other heating options
Sometimes you can do without running the furnace – especially in the autumn when you may not need to warm a whole home. When you’re just keeping one or two rooms warm, electric space heaters can be a much more efficient choice. Once the furnace is on for the season, you can turn down the thermostat and cozy up with a ceramic space heater instead.
Portable heaters are easy to tote room to room and some heaters include oscillating fans to circulate warm air over a broader space. Keep your heater regularly cleaned and dusted, particularly focusing on the air intake and exhaust vents, using the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Clean the body of the Heater with a soft cloth only, using harsh solvents to clean your heater’s exterior may result in damage to the surface finish. However often you need to do this depends on variables within the heater’s environment but a basic cleaning should happen every two to three weeks to ensure that your device maintains its optimum effectiveness.
Always plug your Lasko space heater directly into a 120V wall outlet. We do not recommend the use of other cord connected devices such as a power strip, surge protector, multiple outlet adapter, cord reel, or outlet-type air freshener. The use of such devices may create a safety hazard because of the high current flow needed to power space heaters.
Today News cautioned against using a power strip because the device would overheat as it tried to keep up with the space heater’s power needs. This overheating can cause a fire hazard. Additionally, it’s important to check the quality of your wall outlet connection. Older, loose connections may cause the wall outlet to overheat. Be sure that your heater plug fits tightly into the outlet before each use. During use, check to make certain the plug is not overheating. If necessary have a qualified electrician check and/or replace the wall outlet.
Unless a heater is specified as a bathroom heater, it should be kept out of bathrooms and laundry rooms because the high humidity levels can damage internal parts and functioning.
It’s always important to monitor your space heater and avoid leaving it unattended—especially when children or pets are around. Place it out of the path of heavy traffic and on a stable, flat surface to minimize tripping or tip-over hazards. When your heater is not in use, it’s always best to unplug as an added safety precaution.
Never Turn It Too Low
As a rule of thumb – even when you’re leaving for a long weekend or on winter vacation – don’t turn your thermostat below 55, noted Care2.com. You want to keep just enough heat in the home to prevent pipes from freezing.
Staying Cozy Indoors
Don’t underestimate the comfort of fleece. It’s one of the softest and best insulating fabrics, so it’s become a winter go-to material for socks, sweatshirts, blankets and pajamas as well as winter accessories to wear outdoors.
If you keep throws and blankets in colder spots in your house, your family may be less inclined to raise the thermostat whenever they get a chill. When it comes to bedtime, use flannel pillowcases and bed sheets so you can comfortably lower the nighttime temperature in your home. It also removes the dread of getting into a cold bed at night and waiting to warm up beneath cotton sheets.
Warm Up the Atmosphere
Staying warm has both a physical and emotional effect on people. To make your home an inviting space all winter long and into gray days in early spring, consider the impact of your home design on your mental outlook.
On wooden chairs, add soft seating mats and pillows for back support in jewel tones and warm colors that seem to fit the season best. For home accessories, bring in small branches and pine cones from the backyard, add some gold and red accents and house plants for greenery to remind you that warmer days are just a season away.
Debunk the Myths
It’s sometimes said that when you lower the thermostat, you’re just making your furnace work harder, and consume extra energy when you inevitably turn up the heat later on. The U.S. Department of Energy debunked this myth. The fact of the matter is, as the house’s temperature drops, it actually starts losing heat more slowly. So, the longer your house is at a lower temperature rather than a higher one, the less heat is sapped out and the more energy you save! Want to save even more power? Give yourself a home energy audit and weatherproof your windows, doors and insulation for winter.
Program Your Thermostat
If you’ve got a programmable model, understand and adjust your heating on a pre-set schedule. This may require some adjustment as you move from late summer to fall and from fall to winter, but having the preset program gives you greater control over your heat. The DOE has a useful schedule for families with adults and children that spend most of the day out of the house for work and school. From 6:45 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., it charts four pre-programmable points when the temperature can be lowered or raised for maximum efficiency. Even if your thermostat isn’t programmable, you can create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. This can help you keep your utility bills regular.
Party Plan With Your Thermostat
According to Care2.com, when you’re hosting a party, you’ll want to turn your thermostat way down. Think of it this way: According to the news source, each guest is the equivalent of a 175-watt heater, so enough people can warm up space really quickly. Need some extra coziness? Just turn on your space heater as a supplement.
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