Saving on your heating bills during the winter is easier than many think. While some may claim substantial savings can only occur after an entire heating system revamping or a lofty project, you can lower your home heating bill by doing just a few fairly simple and straightforward tasks each winter. Here’s a simple checklist to get you on your way:
Change Your Air Filter
Many homeowners neglect to change their air filter, but it should be changed monthly. A dirty filter means both less clean air in your home and decreased efficiency as your heater wastes more energy while providing less heat. Make changing your HVAC filter monthly a habit, in addition to ensuring that there are no obstructions in front of any heating vents.
Insulating your home isn’t expensive and it can make a big difference on heating efficiency. Your home’s draftiness is easy to test. On a windy day, place candles around potential problem areas — like window panes or door cracks — and if the candle flame dances or extinguishes, a void needs to be caulked up. The less cold air gets into your home, the less you’ll have to rely on your heat. Make sure not to neglect insulating your water heater and pipes as well, as freezing damage to those can be extremely costly.
Of course, one of the easiest ways how to lower your heating bill is to simply use less energy. You can save money by running the heat for a few hours before turning it off and adjusting your clothing accordingly. This is especially effective in homes that are caulked properly. In a properly insulated home the heat will linger for some time, while an extra sweater or layer can compensate for the slight decrease in temperature. An electric blanket is also a money-saving option.
Make Your Living Space Smaller
If you live in a larger space, strive to isolate the heat to areas you’ll be using the most. For instance, if you have a spare bedroom or other rooms that are rarely used, close their doors and don’t heat them if possible. This flexibility is easier with a thermostat, which leads us to:
Consider a Thermostat
EnergyStar says that a programmable thermostat can save a typical single-family home at least $200 per year in energy costs. This is mostly because the customization options are highly useful in saving energy. You can time the usage of your heat, opting to shut heat off while you’re at work and turn it on automatically before you get home, so your house is warm when you arrive but doesn’t waste energy all day. Some thermostats allow for individualized room control, which is another plus for efficiency.
Highlight Natural Light
Sunlight can be plenty strong even during the winter, so take advantage of any natural light opportunities your home has. Keep the shades open to allow sunlight during the day while shutting them at night. Sunlight’s mood-lifting benefits are certainly beneficial during the grey winter months as well. Just be sure to only open window coverings when they are receiving direct sunlight. This is because shades – and particularly shutters – help keep the cold out while they are closed.
Use Foam Gaskets for Light Switches and Outlets
Not many people know that foam gaskets are a great way to prevent drafts coming from light switches or outlets. Gaskets are cheap, too, even before you take a lowered heating bill into account. Simply insert these into your switches and outlets. Also be sure to caulk any problem areas near windows and doors to fully secure your home for the winter. Weather-stripping to prevent air leakage under doors is another option.
Evaluate Your Heating Methods
Consider the specific tools and products your home relies on for heating, particularly given recent events with the energy industry. For instance, households relying on heating oil may experience higher bills this winter due to supply shortages. If possible, adopting a cheaper method is certainly something to consider.
Speak With Your Utility Company
Some utility companies provide free energy efficiency audits. When combined with these tips, the audits should provide you with comprehensive information on energy costs and any heating efficiency issues, including where they are and how you can resolve them. Consulting your utility company or an expert in the field is a possibility to consider you still have issues after following these tips.
The various tips above should significantly aid in lowering you home heating bill this winter by making your home more efficient at transferring and retaining heat.
Photo Credit: leimenide