10 Ways to cut your heating costs this winter
It’s that time again. Trees are bare, and temperatures are dropping below freezing. In the new year, many of us are setting resolutions to save more money. Here are a few low-investment ideas to help keep your house warm, and save you money on your monthly heating bill.
1. Bundle up. If you’re serious about saving money, this should be the first step. Instead of cranking up the heat, put on a winter sweater or sweatshirt, thick socks, and set your thermostat for as low as comfortable. Put some throw blankets on the couch, break out your flannel sheets and winter duvet for your bed.
2. Crank it down. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save 10 percent on your winter heating bills by adjusting your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees cooler while you’re at work. Save even more by turning the thermostat down while you’re sleeping. Even a few degrees can make a difference on your monthly bill.
3. Close it up. Do you have rooms in your house that you don’t use? Close and seal off the vents to these rooms. This will direct the warm air flow into the rooms you actually use.
4. Keep your furnace clean. The dirtier your furnace, the harder it has to work. Cleaning your furnace at least every two months could increase its efficiency by up to 50 percent.
5. Caulk and replace worn weather stripping. Worn down weather stripping will create drafts, and let the warm air out of the house, causing the furnace to work harder. After you’ve replaced the weather stripping, be sure it fill in cracks around windows and door frames with caulk.
6. Turn down the temperature on the water heater. According to the Department of Energy, water heating accounts for about 18 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down your water heating setting to 120 degrees to save money (and potentially yourself from scalding hot water.)
7. Let it shine. Despite the low temperature outside, the sun’s winter rays will still bring heat into your home through doors and windows. Keep blinds and curtains open during the day on doors and windows that get direct sunlight. Consider trimming trees or plants that block the sun’s rays from coming into the house. Make sure to cover the doors and windows back up when the sun goes down to give an extra layer of protection against drafts.
8. Close the chimney dampers. Keep the dampers shut on your fireplace to keep warm air from escaping through the chimney. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
9. Insulate. If you’re willing to spend a little extra money, consider re-insulating your attic. Because heat rises, attics are guilty of leaking lots of warm air out of your house. By insulating it properly, you could save 20 to 30 percent off your monthly bill, according to the Department of Energy. Exterior wall sockets and switches can also be sneaky sources of air leaks, due to the holes in the wall behind the outlet’s plates. Just unscrew the cover, block the gap with a fitted insulation pad, and screw it back up again. Just make sure you turn your circuit breaker off before doing so to avoid electrocuting yourself.
10. Shrink it. An inexpensive way to keep the heat from seeping out of your windows, without having to replace them, is to install a window film. It resembles shrink wrap, and can be installed on your windows in less than ten minutes, and can help retain up to 55 percent of your home’s heat, according Lowe’s.
Visit the Department of Energy website for more valuable tips on how to minimize your energy consumption this winter.
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