The cold, damp months of winter can make people want to say indoors and crank up the heater. Before you do anything, take a look around your house and look for places where you can cut costs on heating your home in the winter.
Free ways to save money
In the realm of home heating, there are many things you can do to save money that are easy and cost nothing. One of these is to turn down the thermostat. For each degree you lower your thermostat, you can save 3% on your heating bill. If you lower it while you are at work and asleep, you could save 14% overall. A programmable thermostat will make this easier and less noticeable.
Another thing you can turn down is the water heater. Keeping it at 115 degrees reduces power usage, which puts more money in your pocket.
Turn off fans in the bathroom and kitchen as soon as you’re done using them, as they can force the warm air out of the house, forcing the heater to produce more to replace it.
Close the doors of rooms that are not regularly used. Close all vents when not in use, including the fireplace damper. Leaving these open sucks warm air out of the house. When using vents, check them for debris and obstructions that can prevent them from circulating properly.
Use your (preferably insulated) curtains. Open them during the day to warm the house, then close them at night to retain the heat.
Turn on the ceiling fan (in reverse). As is covered in ceiling fan savings, a ceiling fan can be used to push warm air (which naturally rises) down in the winter and keep a room warmer.
Get an energy audit. Every home is different and has its own weak points. Get a free energy audit and learn where you can save.
Quick fixes under $20
If you are handy, have a few extra bucks for a trip to the hardware store and don’t mind spending a little time making your home even more energy-efficient, here are some tips for you.
Look for drafts and leaks around windows and doors. Warm air escapes through these gaps, which cause it to take longer to heat up your home. You can buy door sweeps, caulk, weather stripping and outlet gaskets to fix these leaks. Each of these items can be bought for under $10, and you will recoup this amount by the end of the year from all the heating costs you have saved.
Check to see if any ductwork has become disconnected. Pipes that are not fully connected can cause you to lose as much as 60% of your heated air. Check ducts in attics and basements and fix any that have come loose or become pinched. Metal-backed tape and aerosol sealants work best.
Insulate your water heater and pipes. A jacket for your water heater costs around $20, but it will save energy costs, especially if the water heater is in the garage or other cold place.
Invest in a water-efficient shower head. For a modest investment you can buy a shower head that uses up to 50% less water, thus reducing your water and energy bills.
Check the furnace air filter. The heater can stop working if the filter is dirty or clogged. Change the filter as needed (typically several times a year) and you can save up to 10% on heating costs.
Spending money to save money
If you have an older home, you may want to consider replacing your windows with more energy-efficient ones (most notably double glazing). While these windows can be a bit expensive, they will more than pay for themselves over time with the energy savings they can offer year around.
Remember that a fireplace can consume more energy than it saves if is not constructed and utilized properly (keep damper closed when not in use).
The same goes for your furnace and other appliances in your home. Upgrading these to newer or Energy Star appliances can cost you a more money at first, but you will realize savings as time goes on because these appliances are quieter and save energy.
Top insulation of ceilings and walls offers most home owners huge energy savings.
Spend a little extra time preparing for the winter as people did in the past, and you will realize energy savings while being a more responsible citizen.