Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday's Simple Switch: let the sun naturally heat your home

Saturday's Simple Switch (SSS) is a weekly column featuring one simple switch you can make to cut back on everyday spending. Remember, every penny saved can help you achieve your goal of spending more time your children!

Has anyone else noticed that the sun seems to be staying out just a little bit longer this time of year? I have and it sure has been nice! It's giving us a longer glimpse of the Spring sun that is just around the corner (according to one famous groundhog).

Even though the sun is seemingly working overtime, the temperatures here in the Northeast are still in the frigid 30s! With at least four or five weeks left of winter, this is a great time to use the sun's natural warming effect to help heat your home. 

While I am not talking about installing huge solar panels on your roof-- that wouldn't be simple now would it?-- I am talking about taking baby steps to use the sun to your advantage. Those simple baby steps include:

-Know which rooms in your house get the morning sun (east) and which get the afternoon sun (west). Then make sure that the curtains in those rooms are left open for the day. It will also be important that you leave those room doors open as well to help heat up the entire house. And, in contrast, keep the curtains and doors closed to the rooms that don't get much sun. If one of those dark rooms is rarely used by your family, consider always keeping those doors closed and perhaps even the heating vents. 

-Install insulating film on your windows and doors to help with heat retention. This will be especially helpful if you have a sunny area of your home that is centrally located and will provide a good deal of heat for your entire home (or for a sunroom)!

-Dark curtains work wonders for absorbing heat. Even in the rooms that you will be leaving the curtains open,  if the curtains are dark they will still absorb heat when they are pulled back, contributing to heat retention even after the sun goes down. If you have leaky windows, placing a dark colored towel on the sill will do double duty of stopping the draft and absorbing heat. 

According to Miserly Moms, for every degree that you lower your thermostat in the winter, you save 3% on energy costs! Obviously you only want to reduce your heat incrementally and minimally especially if there are ill or elderly living in your home. 

1 comment:

  1. Try this for a healthier winter home environment... Fresh air is always good!
    On any warmer winter day especially late winter, say above 50 degrees f. Air out your house. Put an extra sweater on everyone,turn the heat down and open all of the windows for about 30 minutes or longer if it's really nice. It does not drop the temperature of the physical things in your home, just the air. When you close the windows again, your home will return to a comfortable temperature very quickly. During the winter, when all of the windows and doors are closed, the air grows stale. Molds and other unhealthy things hang around. Years ago, when my 6 children were young, after a virus ran through our family, I would air out the house for 15-30 minutes, even if it was cold. This would kill all the airborne germs or at least get some of them out!