9 Instant home warm-ups

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Keep warm this winter and significantly trim your energy bills

The cold weather is here, but you can still take a few easy steps to winterize your home. Your wallet—and the planet—will thank you. Here are a few ideas:

1. Have a professional home energy audit done to choose the most effective ways to go green and stay warm. Good to know: An energy audit is required for many energy retrofit rebate programs.

2. Use a programmable thermostat to keep your home warm when you’re there and cool when you’re not. You can reduce heating bills by two percent for every degree you turn your thermostat down at night.

3. Lay area rugs on floors. If your feet are cold, you’ll feel colder. Rugs act as a cozy barrier against hard floors that typically feel colder than indoor air.

4. Set up a space heater to warm a home office or other contained space rather than raising the temperature of your whole home. Buy a space heater with a timer and a thermostat or multiple heat settings, all which prevent overheating the room.

5. Replace weather-stripping around doors and windows. Ross Elliott, president of HomeSol Building Solutions in Ottawa, recommends spending more on a higher-quality product for a tighter seal. “You want one that has lots of flexibility,” he says.

6. Use thick drapes to retain solar heat. On winter days, open curtains and blinds on south- and west-facing windows so the sun can help heat your home. Prevent heat loss by closing window coverings on east- and north-facing windows during the day—and all window coverings at night. This simple action can save you 5 to 15 percent on heating costs, according to BC Hydro.

7. Apply plastic sheeting to windows to prevent heat loss and drafts. This is especially smart if you have wood-framed single-pane windows. Investment tip: Consider upgrading to low-E windows, which help control indoor temperatures by blocking UV rays in summer while allowing heat gain in winter.

8. Seal air leaks. Air leaks behind walls and between floors can be tricky to find, but exposed ductwork in a basement, garage, crawlspace or attic can easily be sealed to improve energy efficiency. Feel for leaks with your hand or a feather. Fix small leaks with foil tape, or call a pro to install new gaskets. Tip: Avoid using duct tape to seal air leaks—the adhesives don’t perform well in contact with heat. Use expanding foam to seal leaks around attic hatches and chimneys and in basement foundations.

9. Upgrade insulation. Depending on your home, the job may be as simple as adding loose-fill insulation through a series of small holes, or as large as opening up walls and installing spray foam. You’ll stay warmer, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save as much as 30 to 35 percent on heating bills, says Stephen Olsen, president of Hometite Services Ltd. in Halifax. Tip: Insulating ductwork in unheated areas, such as basements and attics, helps prevent heat loss.

Comments, questions, tips? E-mail editor@green-living.ca


EcoLivingScotiabank’s EcoLiving program is Canada’s go-to resource to help homeowners save money by reducing their energy bills and taking advantage of government rebates for making green home improvements. Their handy Home Energy Savings Calculator shows you just how much you can save by going green!