(NC) -- Old Man Winter is just around the corner, bringing cold, frigid temperatures and a desire to stay in and stay warm. Heating costs make up a significant portion of household expenses, but there are ways to manage your energy use while still staying warm and cozy. Dave Walton, the director of home ideas at Direct Energy, shares five easy ways to improve energy efficiency this winter:
1. Lower the thermostat: Put on a sweater or extra blanket and lower your thermostat by two degrees Celsius to save up to four per cent on your heating bill. Consider replacing your old thermostat with a programmable one – some versions learn your behaviour and adjust the temperature based on your living patterns.
2. Keep in the heat: Look into the attic and check to see if your current insulation needs to be topped up. Regardless of the type of insulation you have, there should be a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic. Improving your home's insulation is one of the fastest and most cost effective ways to cut down on your heating costs.
3. Maintain your furnace: Most manufacturers recommend that you clean or replace furnace filters every three months. It's important to book a full inspection with a professional to maintain your manufacturer's warranty and ensure your system is working safely and efficiently. Doing this should also help cut down on your energy consumption.
4. Use 'free' heat: Open curtains and blinds on sunny days to let the warmth in.
5. Seal it up: Check for air leaks around doors, windows and electrical outlets and use caulking or weather stripping to seal out the cold air. If you were to add up all the leaks in the average Canadian home, you would end with a hole about the size of a basketball.
Additional tips and ideas can be found at www.DavesCorner.ca.