Follow these tips to avoid getting burned by chilly weather

Follow these tips to avoid getting burned by chilly weather
How you use ceiling fans, fireplaces, space heaters and natural sunlight in the winter can determine your energy efficiency. (iStock)

When temperatures drop and stay below freezing like they have in Alabama this week, the desire to stay warm often outweighs the desire to save energy.

Here are a few tips from Alabama Power that can help you do both.

Programmable and smart thermostats give you better control over when your heat and air conditioning are on. (iStock)
  • Set your thermostat to 68 degrees while you are away. Smart thermostats can be put on a daily or weekly schedule.
  • Don’t invite cold air in. Shut your garage door to keep out the cold and cut costs.
  • Open your blinds during the day. Let the sun be your ally in heating your home.
  • Close all louvers and vents in the attic or foundation walls during the winter.
  • Check your water heater. If it is warm to the touch, believe it or not, it may need a blanket. Check with the manufacturer to see if the water heater has an R value of at least 24. If not, try adding a custom-made insulating blanket, which can reduce heat loss by 25%-45%. They are easy to install and available at most home improvement or building supply stores.
  • Upgrade your heating and cooling system to a heat pump. Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from a cool space to a warm space, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer.
  • Rethink your fireplace. Although a crackling fire in the fireplace can make a room appear to be warm and cozy, fireplaces are often a deterrent to energy efficiency because a lot of the heated air escapes up the chimney. A fireplace designed for providing heat eliminates this problem through a draft, which supplies the fire with outside air rather than air from the room.

    Caulking helps keep warm air in and cold air out in the winter. (iStock)
  • Only use portable electric space heaters in the room or area you are in. Buy models that are thermostatically controlled.
  • Use an electric blanket at night. An electric blanket is more economical than heating the entire house all night long. Another option is to swap out your bedding to flannel sheets or heavier blankets.
  • Cover up cold feet. Research shows we are more sensitive to feeling cold when our toes are exposed, and women are more likely than men to have cold feet. Wearing wool socks can help you feel warm all over.
  • Set ceiling fans to the clockwise direction to help pull heated air down and keep drafts at bay.
  • Make sure attic insulation is 10-12 inches deep.
  • Repair or replace old windows. Fill cracks and gaps with caulk.

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