The cold weather is officially here, and heating your home turns expensive, fortunately there are plenty of things savvy homeowners can do to keep their winter-season energy costs low. Many of these things cost very little and some are even free!
Let’s jump right into the money saving tips, starting with the freebies…
1) Turn that thermostat down
Energy experts suggest keeping your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees, and lowering the temperature to about 65 while you’re gone and overnight. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) says that lowering the thermostat down 1 degree equals about 3% savings on your heating costs for that period of time. For those thinking they need their house warmer than 68 to be comfortable, it’s as easy as throwing on a sweater or cuddling under a blanket while you is watching TV. You’ll get used to it fast and you’ll learn to take pride in the extra money you’re saving each month!
2) Turn down the water heater.
Lowering the temperature of water in the water heater to 115-120 degrees reduces power use often without much (if any) difference to the end user.
3) Keep heating vents clear.
Vents blocked by rugs and furniture prevent heated air from circulating efficiently.
4) Use curtains wisely
Opening curtains and shades on the windows during the day allows solar radiation to warm a living space, while closing all curtains at night helps trap warm air in the house.
Here are few additional tips that, although not free, require no more than a trip to the hardware store, a couple bucks, and a little bit of elbow grease …
1) Seal any drafty doors or windows.
First, find any leaks by investigating on a cold, windy day. Cold air seeping in under exterior doors can be fixed with a door sweep ($5-$10). If the drafty door is seldom used, you may opt to save the couple bucks by folding up a small area rug and simply covering the gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. Buy some caulk ($2-$5 per roll) for those drafty spots around exterior window frames.
2) Look for other insulation opportunities.
Some well-placed insulation, especially in the attic of older homes, can save you a small fortune over the course of a winter. ($5-$20 for a roll depending on insulation value and quality).
3) Keep your furnace in shape.
Replace the air filter ($5-$20) according to manufacturer’s directions and your heating system will operate more efficiently. Have your furnace cleaned and tuned up every couple years by a professional HVAC mechanic (estimated cost $100). Having your entire duct system cleaned out (estimated cost $150) every 10 – 15 years will also improve efficiency. According to the ACEEE, you can save between 3% and 10% on heating bills just by maintaining your heating unit.