Does it hurt yet? No, not your face every time you go outside. We mean your heating bill. If you live in fear of the next installment arriving in your mailbox, there are things you can do now, like today, that will save money.
Here at AcreageLife, we support the idea of zone heating. It’s not all that different from how your grandparents stayed warm in the winter. Nor is it uncomfortable, except for the occasional—if momentary—foray into chillier areas of your home (like the toilet seat, but at least we’re not talking out to the privy!).
No, zone heating simply means turning your whole-house thermostat down and instead keeping warm by heating only where you are actually living. Some people carry electric heaters with them from room-to-room, which puts heat right where you want it. Gas-fired fireplace inserts are a great way to feel warm and toasty, and today’s inserts are far, far more energy efficient than an open fireplace hearth. Not only do they provide plenty of heat for the room you’re in, but they look great and don’t require any wood splitting.
If you already have a wood-burning stove or hearth, do your best to use all the heat it produces. Use bricks to gather the heat it produces by stacking them around the stove. When the stove cools after you go to bed, the bricks will still give off heat. There are also small fans you can use to distribute heat around the room, and additional heat-exchanging fins to radiate heat from the flue.
By heating only the room where you are, you save dollars overall. And besides, it’s fun to curl up in a blanket while watching TV at night.
Insulation—With snow on the ground and on the roof, now is the best time to check your attic insulation. If you aren’t in a snowy climate but live where it does get cold, head out first thing in the morning and inspect your roof for melting frost before the sun hits if fully.
Ice dams and shingle damage—While you’re outside, look up to make sure your gutters haven’t begun to back up with ice. It can damage your roof and when the ice melts in the spring, also damage interior ceilings and walls. Some ponies make ice melt cakes that you can toss into them to hasten melting before it all backs up.
Lawn damage—We love our lawns but if you didn’t pick up leaves or have low spots, ice and lingering water could promote lawn damage. Do your best now to identify these areas and pick up, rake, or scrape damaging material before spring comes. You could still find yourself reseeding come May, but at least you’ll be ahead of the game.