7 Ways To Lower Your Heating Bill This Winter

by heather

With October right around the corner, many people around the country are starting to wonder how they’re going to pay for their heating costs this year. After all, oil has gone up yet again (big surprise). It’s going to be an expensive winter when it comes to heating our homes.

So, how can we save on our heating bills this winter?

Well, there’s no magic bullet solution, but there are things you can be doing right now that will help lower your heating costs this winter. And the best news? All these energy-saving tips are great for the environment.

Tip #1: Seal Cracks, Windows, and Doors From Drafts

Believe it or not, but sealing up the tiny cracks and openings around your windows and doors makes a big difference in your heating bills. How much of a difference? Well, according to Michigan Gas and Utilities (my home state) savings can be anywhere in the 10-20% range. Caulk and weather stripping isn’t that expensive, and your savings will more than pay for your investment in supplies.

Tip #2: Get A Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats are an investment: most cost between $75-$200. BUT, by using a programmable thermostat in your home it will pay for itself in less than a year. Energy Star estimates that the average home using a programmable thermostat will save $180 per year.

I have a programmable thermostat, and although I work at home I still use it. My strategy is this: during the day, the thermostat is set for 64 degrees. I use a very small heater in my office, which keeps me comfortable. Because it’s a people heater (versus a room heater) it uses much less energy than heating the whole house. At the end of my workday, the thermostat kicks it up to 67 degrees. At 10:00 p.m. it goes back down to 64 while I sleep.

Although I live in Michigan, I stay warm with this plan and my bills are much lower than most of the people I know. For those of you who work outside your home, the benefits are even better. You can turn it way down while you’re at work, have it kick on right before you get home, and then go back down once you go to sleep.

Using a programmable thermostat is a much smarter approach to heating. For every degree you turn down your thermostat, you’ll save 3% on your heating bill.

Tip #3: Keep Your Fireplace Damper Closed

Heat can easily escape through your chimney when you don’t have a fire going. Keep the damper closed when you’re not using the fireplace.

Tip #4: Turn Your Water Heater Down

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heating makes up 13% of your utility bill. If you can turn it down to 115-120 degrees, you’ll save 3-5% on your bill.

Tip #5: Keep Your Heating Vents Clear

If your heating vents are blocked by furniture or rugs, your furnace is going to have to work harder to get the base heat in the home to the temperature it’s set to. This uses more energy, which shows up on, you guessed it, your bill.

Tip #6: Examine Your Ductwork

If your home uses ductwork to transport heat, then you can be losing a lot of that hot air if you’re not careful. If the ducts aren’t connected well, or there are cracks or holes, then all that bought air is getting released in places where you can’t feel it.

Go through and make sure your ducts are in good condition. If there are some that aren’t connected well, use metal backed tape (not traditional duct tape) to seal them up again. Also, make sure that none of your ducts or pinched, which restricts air flow.

You can also look in your attic for black-stained insulation; this is a clue that air is escaping through your ducts and needs to be fixed.

Although these little things may not seem like much, they can really add up. How much? Well, it depends on the age of your home and how much you can do, but you could shave as much as 20% off your bill.

Tip #7: Change Your Furnace Filter

Furnace filters are tricky. The reason they’re not usually on our “top priority” list is because they’re buried in the furnace, in the basement. It’s not a place we spend a lot of time.

But, changing the air filter in your furnace will help keep your furnace running more efficient. Because your furnace isn’t working harder to push air through a clogged filter, it uses less energy. Having a clean filter also keeps the air in your home clean.

Prices vary on furnace filters. Most people buy the reusable blue fiberglass filters that are less than $10 for three. But, these only block about 10% of the dust in your home. That dust is really made up of nasty stuff like dead skin, pet dander, mold, plant spores, and even dust mite droppings. Yuck.

And, when you think about the fact that you spend 90% of your time indoors, breathing all this in, you can see why it really pays to invest more in your furnace filter.

Last Word

If you think you’re really not going to be able to swing heating your house this winter, then you might qualify for aid from the Federal Government. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) was designed to help families who are struggling to pay their heating bills.

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{ 1 comment }

James December 12, 2008 at 12:56 am

Great post!

I really like all of the tips you mentioned. One thing I’ve found to work well for me is the Magnon Fuel Conditioner for my home furnace and hot water heater. I use propane to heat my home, and these little things are saving me about 22% each year.

On top of your 7 ways, I see a savings of 27-29% a year. A couple hundred dollars — well worth the small cost of the Magnon Fuel Conditioners, cleaning my vents, and other easy stuff.

I purchased my Magnon Fuel Conditioners at http://www.SaveMoneyOnHomeHeating.com The installation took me 10 minutes from the time I got the package to the second they were installed. EASY!

Keep up the awesome blog entries!!!!!!!!

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