Save Money and Stay Warm this Winter

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Top Ten Tips to Save on Winter Heating from Mahogany Builders

"The number one thing home owners can do to winterize their home- change the furnace filters. Furnaces run more frequently in winter, collecting particles that cause the filter to dirty, clog, & decrease air flow in the home which means a colder home.

Winter months are cold and pricey. Drafty, inefficient homes hemorrhage heat and waste energy. Instead of weatherizing homeowners first reaction is to crank up the heat. Matt Lederer, founder of Mahogany Builders, has 10 easy and inexpensive ways to keep heat in and reduce energy bills. In fact half of his tips don’t cost anything at all.

Matt’s advice comes from eight years in the remodeling industry and over 40 years of living through harsh Chicago winters. He knows that a few minutes of time and some inexpensive items can save hundreds of dollars over the course of one year. Here, Matt offers tips to help prevent heating and electricity bills from creeping up as the temperature plummets, with remedies easy enough for any homeowner to complete in an afternoon.

Video footage of Matt putting tips into action:

1.    Insulate Overlooked Places: Basements and foundation walls can hold a myriad of overlooked energy loss. A hugely unnoticed culprit is unsealed dryer vents, utility pipes and windows. Anytime electrical lines or plumbing enter the home, they need to be properly insulated and sealed. Filling gaps and cracks with expanding foam is a quick and easy way to seal them and prevent heat loss.

2.    Seal Outlets and Switches: Air seeps in through outlets and switches. Adding gaskets behind switches provides insulation and can help prevent more hot air from escaping and cold air from entering.

3.    Save Heat for the Rooms You Use the Most: Only heat rooms that are used regularly. Turn off vents in empty guest rooms and garages. Make sure that attics, closets, crawl spaces, and similar areas are well insulated. Fiberglass insulation is standard, but Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Insulation expands to fit the area it insulates. For areas that require specific width, foam is best.

4.    Let the Sun In Then Prevent Nighttime Heat Loss: Get as much natural sunlight as you can. Sunlight warms rooms naturally with passive solar heating. As the sun goes down, close blinds to retain the heat for as long as possible. Each square foot of window covered nightly saves about 1 gallon of heating oil or nearly 1.5 cubic feet of natural gas per year. South-facing windows receive the most light, so make sure to open those blinds in particular.

5.    Replace Furnace Filters: Filters collect dust particles, which can clog the filter and decrease airflow. The result: less heat and an inefficient furnace. Filters should be changed once a month, depending on the usage. In extreme cold furnaces run more frequently and filters need to be changed more often. Regularly replacing filters can save up to $60 in heating per year, maintain the longevity of the furnace, as well as keep the air clean of allergens and impurities.

6.    Adjust Heat Diffusers: Seasonally adjust the venting system. Most vents are coordinated so that they are on the ceiling of one floor and on the floorboards of the one above. Opening baseboard heat vents—and closing ceiling vents—in the winter allows warm air to rise from the floor below.

7.    Use Fireplaces Efficiently: Keep fireplaces closed when not in use. An open damper allows as much heated air to escape as a 48” window. Turn off heat when fireplaces are in use, and install a glass screen to prevent hot air in the room from escaping through the chimney after the fire is extinguished.

8.    Minimize Use of Ventilation Fans: Fans in bathrooms and kitchens can displace the heated air from an entire home in less than an hour. Reducing the use of these fans can decrease heating bills substantially.

9.    Seal Doors and Windows: About 27% of overall energy consumption is lost through doors and windows. Properly sealing them with gaskets, door sweeps, and weather stripping provides secure closures that prevent heat from escaping. Most hardware stores carry a wide variety of products to weatherize a door from the outside, inside or the jamb itself. Most can be installed with tools.

10.    Install a Programmable Thermostat: Installation doesn’t require any special wiring and can save up to $200 per year. Many older homes have simple analog thermostats that remain at a single temperature. The key is to program them to higher temperatures (68°F) only when people are at home and awake and drop the temperature (60°F) when the home is empty and at night. These settings can save an additional 20-30%.

About Mahogany Builders

Matt Lederer, owner of Mahogany Builders, has been remodeling homes in the Chicago area for the past 8 years. Mahogany is unique from other remodeling firms due to the meticulous records and updates it provides for its clients. Matt is famous for promising no surprises on the final bill. He takes pride in the fact that his projects will not only be done well, but that they will also be done on time. An established contractor and businessman, Matt has a team of skilled trades people, a dedicated construction manager, a project manager, and in house designer on every project. He loves what he does and it shows, both in the final product, and also in the way he works with his clients and his staff.

Amy Solomon, Solomon PR
Phone: 312-787-3884 (office) / 917-693-5339 (mobile)

Matt Lederer, Owner of Mahogany Builders
Mobile: (312) 804-9955

Matt Lederer demonstrating louver settings.


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