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Winter weather can differ widely depending on your home’s location. Winters in Southern California are temperate, while the temperature in the Northeastern United States can dip below zero with alarming frequency this time of year. Temperatures in Texas, meanwhile, can range from mild to freezing within the same season. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes the most cost-effective way to heat a home. Use these tips to find the most effective way to keep your home toasty this winter.
Know your climate: First, research the climate extremes in your area and take note. Insulation is the first place to start making changes to maximize your home’s efficiency, and to choose the right insulation for your home, you'll need to be armed with these numbers. There are plenty of energy-efficient HVAC systems and heaters on the market today, but if your house isn’t properly insulated, the best heater on the planet will be of little use.
Choose insulation wisely: Many eco-friendly insulation options are available for today’s homeowners, including expanding foams, non-fiberglass insulation batts, foam boards, radiant barriers and even denim. Each has its own pros, cons and price point, so do your research and talk to a few experts before you make a commitment. Be sure to check out insulation kits for doors and windows, as well. Insulation’s job is to stop the transmission of heat. An insulation product’s R-value indicates how effective it will be at keeping heat from escaping your home. For example, the humble t-shirt has the same R-value number as a single pane of glass—two. Insulation is available in R-values from four to over 30. Higher numbers can be obtained by layering batts with different R-values.
Consider alternative heating methods: Once your home is insulated, consider alternative heating methods if the price of a new HVAC system isn't feasible. Consider an efficient fireplace, such as a corn or wood pellet stove—just keep in mind that these require permits and come with strict installation guidelines. A less expensive option would be to install a solar heating module for daytime heating. At night, space heaters can be used to heat individual bedrooms. Be certain to select the proper size of heater for each room based on square footage.
By using space heaters in only in occupied rooms, you won’t be needlessly heating the entire house and lower your utility costs. Using electric blankets can also offset the cost of heating during the night.
Over time, these products can pay for themselves and their installation through energy savings. Start with a single item (new insulation, perhaps) and use the energy savings to purchase additional energy-saving products.
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