Old man winter has arrived in Kentucky! And while we love exploring the state’s lands and waters under a snowy blanket, we don’t appreciate the higher energy bills that can come with cooler temperatures. In response, we’ve assembled some tips that, we hope, will help you stay warm, save energy and enjoy one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful seasons to the fullest.
- Cool down. Adjust the thermostat to the lowest temperature that you can comfortably tolerate. Turn the heat down even more at night and while away from home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save about 10 percent per year on your heating bills by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours.
- Bundle up. Consider wearing more layers and cozy socks. Add blankets and flannel sheets to your bed to maintain a lower temperature at night. Bundle up a room with more area rugs if you have wood or tile floors.
- Heat spaces. Seal off vents to rooms you hardly use. Supplement heat with a space heater in the rooms that are used the most.
- Weatherize and insulate. Caulk and add weather stripping to create a seal around doors and windows. Place draft stoppers under doors leading to the outside. Ensure that the attic, exterior walls and crawl spaces are adequately insulated.
- Fix the fireplace. It can be the coziest spot during winter months, but keep doors and dampers to the fireplace closed when it is not in use to avoid drafts and loss of heat from the house. Burn “seasoned” wood—wood that has been allowed to dry out—to ensure efficient burning. Ensure a certified chimney sweep inspects the chimney each year.
- Harness the sun. Open the curtains on south-facing windows during winter days to bring free heat into the home. Close window coverings when the sun goes down to keep the heat inside.
- Clean house. Clean and maintain the furnace and other heating equipment like registers, baseboard heaters, air filters, coils, fans and radiators. Make sure that furniture, carpeting and drapes aren’t blocking sources of heat.
- Fan out. Homes with good ventilation and airflow can be more energy efficient, even in the winter months. Ceiling fans operating counter-clockwise push hot air up in the summer; changing to clockwise on a low setting can trap heat inside to keep rooms warm during winter.
- Plant trees. It is already well-known that shade from trees can reduce temperatures during hot summers. They also help with heating by blocking cold winter winds that enter homes through small openings and carry heat away from a home’s outer surfaces. This can be remedied by planting trees, like evergreens, with crowns that extend to the ground and branches that keep their foliage in winter.
- Get moving! If you can’t beat the cold, then join it! Bundling up for a walk or hike among Kentucky’s beautiful winter landscapes—especially at one of The Nature Conservancy’s local preserves—is a great way to enjoy winter and stay warm. And it doesn’t cost a thing.
See you outside!