The cost for just about everything is on the rise, but your heating bill can be lowered through a variety of simple steps. Here are eight ways to reduce your heating costs this winter:
1. Routine Maintenance: Maintaining your heating system is one of the easiest ways to be proactive about any future heating bills. Check and replace air filters, inspect valves, coils, drains and dampers then replace any components that are faulty or used beyond repair. Before using the furnace for the first time each winter, have it fully serviced and inspected. Keep the furnace clean during the off months as well.
2. Thermostat Changes: Whether you invest in a programmable thermostat or manually adjust it, turning the thermostat down a few degrees can drastically improve heating costs. Some programmable thermostats can be set to lower the room temperature when you are not home.
3. Efficient Windows: Something as simple as keeping windows free of drapes or blinds can make a big difference when trying to heat a room. Before you leave home, open the blinds and allow natural light to warm your home. Consider installing double-paned windows with low e-ratings to maximize this heat source, or if the windows have storm panes, now is the time to install storm windows and doors over the screens to add a layer of insulation to the window.
4. Proper Fan Use: Ceiling fans typically cool a room, but in the winter months, your fan can keep you warm. As heat rises, the fan pushes warm air downward, lessening the need for additional heat. Keep other fans, such as bathroom fans, on only when they are truly needed. Leaving a fan run for hours will quickly add dollar signs to your monthly bill.
5. Turn Down the Water Heater: Turning down your water heater to 115-120 degrees leaves plenty of hot water to bathe with and will lower the monthly bill.
6. Seal the Leaks: Repair the cracks and holes in your roof, walls, doors or anywhere heat might escape. If you are unsure where the leaks are, light a match and place it near a drafty space on a windy day. If the flame goes out, there is a leak somewhere nearby. Caulking and spray foam insulations are simple repairs that crate an air-tight seal.
7. Heat the Space You Use: Close doors to basements, garages, or infrequently used rooms, such as a guest bedroom or bath. There is no need to heat extra space no one uses.
8. Buy a New Furnace: Depending on the age of the furnace, it might be beneficial to replace the whole system with a new, energy-star rated one. Although it is a costly up front expense, there is great potential to save on your energy bill for years to come. Tax credits are available for certain energy-star rated appliances, so finding the right one can save money in the long run.
Whatever practice is right for you, making a few simple changes to your daily routine will greatly benefit your monthly heating bill.