We may not experience winter the same way they do in other parts of the country, but there are still many things that Arizonans should do to get through the winter as safely, warmly, and economically as possible. Whether this is your first winter in your new home or you’re a longtime homeowner, these tips will save you time and money throughout the season.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Everyone uses their ceiling fans to keep cool in summer; however, reverse them in the winter and they’ll keep you warmer. Run your fan at low speed in a clockwise (as you look up at it) direction. Because warm air rises, the warmest air in the room is up near the ceiling. Reversing the fan produces a gentle updraft which forces warm air back down into the room.
Replacing the filters in your heating system only costs a few dollars and takes a few minutes. The savings, however, can be significant. A new filter can reduce energy consumption by as much as 15%. In addition to energy savings, regularly changing the filter also improves air quality by reducing allergens.
Insulate Your Attic
Packing fiberglass insulation into the ceiling and floor of your attic will keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Just like with the ceiling fan tip, hot air rises, and it will rise up through your attic and out the roof unless you have adequate insulation to keep the heat in your house. You can install fiberglass insulation yourself, just remember to wear gloves.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that homeowners can save between 5-15% a year on their heating bill by using programmable thermostats. This amounts to a savings of 1% for every degree you lower your home’s temperature. Often, homeowners leave for work and forget to turn down the heat. Consequently, the furnace is keeping the house warm all day with no one there. A programmable thermostat will not only lower the temperature while you’re at work, but it will warm things up again in time for your arrival home.
Don’t Let Hot Air Go Up the Chimney
There’s nothing nicer than a roaring fireplace when winter nights get nippy. Unfortunately, the source of all that pleasure can also be robbing you of heat that should stay in your home. Make certain that the damper is always closed when you’re not using your fireplace. If you use your fireplace a lot, look into installing tempered glass doors and a heat exchange system which blows the warm air back into the room. If you don’t use your fireplace at all, look into a chimney balloon, which inflates about a foot above the fireplace opening and will prevent hot air from escaping. Just remember to remove it if you decide you’d like to make a fire.
Take Advantage of Sunny Days
You don’t need solar panels to use the sun as an energy saver. Open curtains on south-facing windows to let sunlight naturally heat your home. Remember, once the sun goes down, that same glass that let the sunshine in will start robbing you of heat. Be certain that you close the curtains over windows in the evening.
Insulate Pipes and Drain Hoses
It will occasionally get cold enough in Arizona to freeze exposed pipes. A burst water pipe can be a huge expense and inconvenience which can be avoided with little expense. There are a number of insulated foams on the market so you can quickly and easily wrap any pipes that are out in the elements. Also, be certain that you drain any outdoor irrigation systems or hoses. There is usually at least one cold snap in the course of an Arizona winter, and you’ll want to be prepared.