Do you live in a cold climate? Do trees shade your house so that it’s cold even during the summer heat? If you’re constantly running your central heat to keep warm throughout the year, you’re only making the electric company rich.
The good news is you don’t need to rely on central heat to stay warm all the time. You don’t have to stop using your central heat, and you don’t need to buy expensive new gadgets to create a smart home. All you need are these 9 strategies to reduce your electric bill and stay warm at the same time.
1. Seal up baseboard gaps and/or missing baseboards
Drafts are a major source of cold air that will keep your central heat running nonstop. When you have cold air constantly flowing through your home, your heating system will never reach the temperature set on the thermostat. That means your system will run indefinitely until you turn it off or set the temperature lower than you prefer.
Sealing up gaps and missing baseboards prevents cold air from flowing freely into your home and saves you money on your electric bill at the same time.
If you don’t mind the way it looks, get some of that expanding foam material that comes in a can and spray it in the cracks from the outside of your house. This is the easiest and cheapest way to seal small baseboard gaps.
Otherwise, fix your baseboards properly and/or install baseboards if yours are missing.
2. Use infrared space heaters
Unless you live in a futuristic smart city where all appliances run on solar power, you need a standard source of heat. If you don’t have central heat, you need something portable like a space heater.
Space heaters have a reputation for being energy hogs, but that’s not always true. There are two factors that determine how a space heater’s efficiency:
- The power required to run the space heater
- The method of heat conversion
Infrared heat is an extremely efficient source of heat because infrared heat is absorbed deep within your skin. Infrared heat sticks to your clothes, too, which keeps you warm for a longer period of time. In contrast, heat created through convection only heats the air around the unit. The problem with convection heat is that the hot air rises and moves away from you. You’ll only stay warm when you’re huddled up close to the heater.
There are many different ways space heaters create hot air, including:
- Standard convection heating
- Infrared heat
- Ventless gas heaters (usually wall-mounted)
- Blue flames
Which space heater is right for you? That depends on your living space, your budget, and your preferences for aesthetics. To learn more about how various space heaters work, check out eFireplace Store’s thorough guide to space heaters for a detailed explanation. The guide includes everything from how the hot air is created to how the actual units function.
3. Layer clothing correctly
You probably know that you need to layer up when it’s cold, but how you layer your clothing matters.
In lightly chilly weather, you can put a fleece hoodie on over a cotton t-shirt and get warm. However, that won’t work in colder weather. Cotton doesn’t retain body heat and is therefore a poor choice for a base layer.
If you’re really cold, layer up like this:
- Use wool or thermal material for a base layer. Some thermals are cotton, but when woven into a waffle pattern they provide warmth. Wool won’t make you sweat. In fact, wool regulates body temperature in both directions – cold and hot.
- Your second layer should be fleece. Fleece (including Sherpa) is designed to capture your body heat and reflect it back to you.
- Your third layer should be waterproof. If there is a possibility of rain, you need an outer, waterproof layer.
- Be careful not to wear fleece as your base layer. If you wear fleece as your base layer, you’re more likely to sweat, which will make you cold instead of warm.
To keep your feet warm, get some fleece slippers and wear them without socks. If your ankles tend to stay cold, get your slippers a half size larger than usual and wear thick fleece socks.
4. Wear fleece-lined leggings under your jeans
Cotton jeans and work pants will make your legs stay cold. Fleece-lined leggings will help. If you’re not the type to run around in leggings, wear them under your jeans. Fleece-lined leggings are common and can be found at big retailers like Walmart and Target for about ten bucks a pair.
If you wear your jeans a little tight, you might need to get the next size up to accommodate your fleece leggings during the cold season.
5. Wear a neck cozy
Wearing a beanie is the most obvious way to keep your head warm, but don’t forget about your neck. Get a neck cozy to keep your neck warm. Some beanie manufacturers make matching sets in all kinds of cool patterns.
Remember, the majority of heat loss happens through your head. The warmer you can keep your upper body, the easier it will be to stay warm.
6. Pop a tent in your living room
Depending on where you live, pitching a tent in your house might be the best way to keep warm. Even though tents are thin, having a smaller enclosed space will keep you warmer. Just pull in a small space heater to warm up the inside before you go to bed.
If you don’t feel like pitching a real tent, get an inflatable tent. Or if you don’t have space, get a Pop Tent. Pop Tents are specifically designed to cover your bed and the entire side wall is a zippered door for easy access to your bed. Zip it up when you sleep and leave it open when you want more air.
7. Use materials that reflect the heat back to you
Certain materials will reflect heat back to you. This is the idea behind wearing Sherpa or fleece clothing. However, you can also reflect heat back to you using materials in your home.
Foil reflects heat extremely well and so does mylar. Wherever you spend the most time, line your walls with foil or mylar to keep the area warm. It will look strange, but if it keeps you warm, it’s worth getting grilled by your friends.
8. Install a wood stove
A wood stove is by far the most efficient way to heat a home because, with the exception of a pellet stove, it doesn’t rely on electricity. Unless you’re in an apartment, you can install a wood stove and start staying warm and saving money on heating at the same time.
A good wood stove will cost you around $1,000, but they’re made of cast iron and will last virtually forever. Wood stoves require annual maintenance and inspection, but the cost is far less than what you’d pay to keep running central heat all year round.
9. Insulate your windows with bubble wrap
If you don’t have double paned windows, bubble wrap is a great (and cheap) substitute. Double paned windows keep cold air out by trapping it in a gap in between two panes of glass. Similarly, bubble wrap will trap cold air when taped to a window with the bubbles against the window.
To get the most out of this warming strategy, get bubble wrap with big, thick bubbles to trap as much air as possible. Attach the bubble wrap with scotch tape to prevent damaging your wood trim.
The downside is you won’t be able to see through the windows you’ve covered in bubble wrap.
You’ll acclimate to the cold sooner than later
If you’re new to a cold climate, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll acclimate to cold weather. After a few years, you’ll be able to tolerate lower temperatures more than you could in previous years. Until then, get some warm blankets, a heated jacket, and use these tips to stay warm all year long.