Keeping your home warm just got more expensive—whether you use natural gas, oil, electric, or propane. Nationwide, higher fuel prices are expected to make this a harsh winter for homeowners. It’s projected the average family in the U.S. will pay about $1,200 to heat their home this winter.
Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to reduce heating costs and save money on your utility bill while still staying comfy in the winter.
Fix Leaks Around Doors and Windows
Heat escapes from your house through leaks around doors and windows. As the weather turns colder, it pays to fix as many air leaks as you possibly can. Many of these fixes can be made by the average homeowner by installing weatherstripping or by caulking around windows and adding door sweeps to exterior doors.
Have you checked your attic insulation lately? Experts recommend a minimum depth of 12 inches of insulation. When you check your attic, if you can still see the ceiling joists, you should consider adding additional insulation. Other places you can add it are around electrical outlets and anywhere utilities enter your home. Pay extra attention around plumbing, both to prevent heat from escaping and to protect pipes from potentially freezing. Bonus Tip: Place rugs on hard floors to add a layer of insulation, trapping cool air underneath and keep it from seeping up and cooling the room.
Clean Your Furnace
Having your furnace cleaned is best way to make sure it’s burning efficiently. Be sure to change your filters on a regular basis—a clean filter helps your furnace operate more efficiently, minimizes dust, and cuts down on the risk of fire.
Clear Your Gutters
Keep your gutters clean and replace them as needed. This will protect you against water-based problems down the road.
Let the Sun in During the Day
Sunshine coming through your windows is a fantastic source of free heat. Opening and closing drapes or blinds at proper times can help you save on your energy bill. Open drapes or blinds when the sun is shining to naturally heat the home. Then close them when it gets dark—preventing drafts and slow heat loss through the glass. Bonus Tip: Consider purchasing insulated curtains to maximize the energy efficiency of your windows.
Replace Older Windows
Replacing old, drafty windows can save you money on heating and cooling bills. Although more costly than storm windows in the short term, insulated, double pane windows will most certainly save you money on heating costs over time.
As appliances break down, and they inevitably will, be sure to replace with energy efficient models. Even though these can be costly up front, you will notice savings right away on your energy bill.
Unplug Unused Electronics
Check your house for energy vampires—appliances and electronics that draw power when they’re plugged in, even when not in use. They basically draw energy while in stand-by mode. Most likely culprits are televisions, computers, and small kitchen appliances. You can save energy by unplugging these devices when you aren’t using them.
Switch to a Smart Thermostat
These devices can automatically detect when you’re not at home so no energy is wasted, but have it ready at the right temperature for when you return. They can also analyze your habits and preferences to make suggestions as to what temperature you should set to reduce your energy bill. Bonus Tip: Some states and local city governments (or even your energy provider) incentivize installing a smart thermostat with rebates, to save even more.
Only Do Full Loads of Laundry
According to Consumer Reports, washing and drying full laundry loads is a great way to save energy. Regardless of what type of washer you own, setting your water heater at 120°F rather than 140°F saves energy when doing laundry with warm or hot water.
Use LED lights
Planning on a splashy Christmas light show this holiday season? Energy-efficient LED bulbs use 75% less energy than standard incandescent lights and last 25 times longer. Bonus Tip: Hook your lights up to an electric timer. Just set and forget, with added savings.
Another way to keep energy costs down in winter, by as much as 10%, is by keeping the thermostat low and compensate by wearing a heavy sweater and warm socks around the house. Stay toasty at night under a thick blanket or comforter.
Resources: HHS.gov, Environmental Defense Fund, Constellation Energy Resources, LLC, TODAY