A few weeks ago, I had never even heard of a polar vortex. Now we’re on our seventh resulting snow day and looking at several more days barricaded into the house, away from the biting windchill. I expected our electric bill to go through the roof after the first week of this weather, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected.
I’m always interested in finding ways to lower energy costs, but it’s especially important when the heat is running all day long. Many other people in our neighborhood forum have reported higher bills and colder homes, so I’m convinced it was our preparations that made all the difference in our heating costs.
Here are 7 ways we’re staying warm during the polar vortex (without letting our heating bill sky-rocket!) …
Stay warm while lowering heating bills during the polar vortex. 1 of 8
Dress warmly. 2 of 8
Step one: you have to dress for the weather, even indoors. I'm heating the house for sweater weather, which means when the kids try to run around in tank tops, they're cold. My constant refrain is: "Then put on weather-appropriate clothing." Don your long johns, wear fuzzy socks, and keep your layers on at home so you can turn down the thermostat just a bit.
Photo Credit: Just Shireen, used with permission
Find leaks. 3 of 8
Find and fix leaks throughout your home with this infrared sensor. It will show you problem areas so you can stop drafts and reduce the load on your furnace.
Stop drafts. 4 of 8
One of the first things we did when we moved in was unscrew all the outlets & light switch covers to add insulation. This is super cheap but goes a long way toward stopping drafts along exterior walls. You can buy them at any home improvement store for just a few dollars to stop the leaks.
Turn down the thermostat. 5 of 8
Turning down the temperature when you are away from the house or asleep is a great way to keep the furnace off throughout the day. A programmable thermostat allows you to set different temperatures when you are home, away, and sleeping. We keep the house 5 degrees cooler overnight. All of us are more comfortable bundling up at night anyway, so we can rely more on our blankets. If I get any complaints about temperatures the next morning, it is always because they were hot. In fact, we bumped our evening temperature down another 2 degrees this week because everyone was so warm.
Seal windows. 6 of 8
I remember my parents sealing the windows when we were little, and this is still an effective tool for winterizing the home. Basically, you shrink-wrap the windows in plastic. If you have sliding glass doors that aren't used through the winter, or large window areas, this could be an important step in increasing insulation and reducing heating costs.
Close the curtains. 7 of 8
Keeping curtains closed adds an extra barrier against harsh winds to reduce drafts. Eclipse makes insulated curtains in a variety of colors and styles. I received new sets for our living room at Christmas. They're thermal-lined, and our heat didn't run the entire first day we put them up. The polar vortex swooped in the very next day, but our home is much warmer than it used to be even though I haven't touched the thermostat.
Photo Credit: Heather Sokol
Grab a blanket. 8 of 8
Before you turn up the heat, grab an extra blanket. There's no need to add to your electric bill for a temporary chill. Sometimes, an extra blanket on my feet is all I need to feel warm(er) and cozy again.
Photo Credit: Corrin Renee, used with permission