Easy Tips to Cut Your Home Energy Bill This Winter
While the first official day of winter hasn’t arrived yet, for many areas of the nation one look out the window would suggest otherwise. The snow and ice has us thinking how cold it is and that we might be in for a long winter.
For many of us, the cold weather means that many of us will soon be seeing a big spike on our monthly electricity bills. It doesn’t have to be that way – there are plenty of ways to minimize the amount of energy needed to heat your home and save cash both now and for the long haul.
A list of low and no-cost ways to save on fuel costs this winter
Dress for Warmth
Bundle up! Running around in shorts and a tee shirt or tank top in the middle of winter doesn’t make much sense. Winter is winter because it is cold, so act like it even if you’re just sitting around the house. Put on a sweater or sweatshirt, wear socks and slippers. Place a soft, comfy blanket on the couch while watching TV, reading or chatting with friends. Put throw rugs on hardwood and tile floors to eliminate the shock of the cold surfaces. It doesn’t cost anything to wear warmer clothes inside and by doing so you can keep the temperature inside the house a few degrees cooler and save money.
Decorate for Warmth
If there are doors and windows that you aren’t using in the winter, plastic them up. There are window kits for sale for a few dollars per window. These can help eliminate drafts and keep in the heat. Don’t want to pay for kits or plastic sheeting or you just don’t like the look? Hang blankets to help insulate instead. When it’s cold outside, nothing says money in the bank like a house that’s blinged out in warm accessories.
Take Advantage of Free Solar Heating
Open curtains during the day to allow the sun to warm your home; close curtains at night to trap in the heat.
Turn Down the Thermostat
Turn the heat down at night and when no one is home. This doesn’t mean turn the heat to 40 degrees, but turning it down to 60 overnight or while you’re away can make a big difference. Why keep it 70 degrees when you’re either sleeping or out of the house for more than 12 hours a day? You can adjust the thermostat manually for free, but if you want to spend a few bucks a programmable thermostat is a great investment.
Save money! Contact us now at 717.299.5641 or email us to schedule the installation of a programmable thermostat.
Take advantage of the heat in the kitchen
After using the kitchen oven, leave the door open a crack. There’s a lot of heat in that oven, so letting it escape puts the heat to good use by warming up the kitchen and surrounding rooms meaning the furnace has to run a little bit less.
Minimize the use of kitchen and bathroom fans
They suck out undesirable smells, but they also suck out a lot of hot air.
Use a space heater when you can
Use a space heater only in the current room you are hanging out in. This will take the nip out of the air to make you feel more comfortable without heating all of the other rooms in the house and wasting energy.
Give vents the all clear
Move all furniture and belongings away from your heating vents, so they can deliver all that heat that you’re paying for.
Close doors and vents in rooms that you aren’t using
Close any vents going to rooms that are not used regularly. That guest room that sits empty when you don’t have any guests? Close the door and the vents. Doing so can easily cut 100-200 square feet off of your energy footprint.
Use your ceiling fans
Warm air rises. Run your ceiling fan in reverse (compared to summer operation) to bring warm air back down to floor level.
Insulate…then insulate some more
Plug your zip code into the U.S. Department of Energy’s insulation tool to find out how much insulation your home needs. Then, beef up your existing insulation as needed.
Dress Your Ducts
Heat loss happens to everyone. Wrap those ducts tight, to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
Cut the draft and heat leaks
Put weather stripping around windows and doors. Weather stripping helps quite a bit, especially in older homes. You’d be surprised how the seals around your doors and windows can deteriorate over time.
Use silicone to fill any cracks in doors, windows, etc, including the basement floor and walls. You would be surprised at how much heat is lost through cracks that seem insignificant. A tube of caulk or silicone will only run you a few dollars and it’s an easy weekend project.
Don’t let the fireplace put a damper on your savings efforts
Keep the damper closed when your fireplace isn’t in use to prevent all that warm air from making a quick exit.
Change your furnace filter regularly
If you have an electric or gas furnace/heat pump, a dirty filter will make it work harder and less efficient. It also can lead to expensive heating bills. Aim to swap yours out once a month, maybe every other month if it is a unit that you don’t use much.
Get a tune-up
Keep your furnace or heat pump running at peak performance by having it tuned up by a professional once a year. It’s a small expense that could lead to big savings.
If you need to have your furnace, boiler, or heat pump serviced, contact us at 717.299.5641 or email us to schedule a service call.
Is it time for a replacement?
This might cost a few more dollars, but it is worth it in gained efficiency. If you’ve been with your heating unit for a long time, it may be time to put an end to it and save your hard-earned money.
If you need to have your furnace, boiler, or heat pump replaced, contact us at 717.299.5641 or email us to schedule an appointment with one of our Comfort Advisors.
Get an energy audit
You won’t find many doctors that make house calls these days, but you’ll still find plenty of energy auditors that do. Schedule an energy audit for your home (many utility companies offer them for free or a small fee), and find out where you could improve the efficiency of your home.
Shop for a better rate
Feel like you’re paying too much for electricity, gas or oil? Shop around for a better rate. As long as you live in a deregulated state, there’s room to negotiate.
Taking advantage of these tips will make a difference in your energy efficiency and your winter heating costs!
1. How to Save on Heating Costs:15 Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill, by Erin Huffstetler, About.com
2. 10 Easy Tips to Cut Your Home Energy Bill This Winter, by Yuka Yoneda, Inhabitat.com
3. How to Save Money on Utility Bills This Winter: It Doesn’t Always Take Money to Save Money, by Jeremy Vohwinkle, About.com