Here in New England, there’s snow on the ground and frost in the air. One of my biggest family budget concerns in the winter is our heating bill – while I always want to make sure your house is warm and comfortable, I also want to cut costs and make sure we don’t spend too much on heating. Here are several tips that can help you save on heating bills this winter.
How to Save on Heating Bills
Free Energy Audit
One of the best deals around is the free energy audit that most energy companies will provide to you. Because it’s free, energy audits are often difficult to schedule – so you may need to wait. During the energy audit, a specialist from the energy company will review your bills, take a look at your heating/cooling system, and see if there are any areas of your home that need insulation, covering, or improvement.
Make sure that you maximize your free appointment by preparing in advance. It’s best to have a few copies of your heating bills from the last year or so. Also, take a look around your house to see if there are areas of concern. For instance, do you feel a draft from the air conditioning vents? The specialist can definitely be a wealth of knowledge for you – more so if you have questions prepared in advance. Some will also offer you free products and rebates, so take advantage of them.
Install Programmable Thermostats (and use them)
When we bought this house, all of the thermostats were the old-school round ones that couldn’t be programmed. That December, our heating bill was over $600 and I nearly keeled over. My husband and dad replaced them all with programmable thermostats, and our costs went down to less than $300 in January. I generally set the thermostats to a temperature around 62 degrees when we don’t expect to be home, and then raise the heat to about 68 degrees a half hour before I expect we’ll be home (or in that zone of the house). Just remember to make sure you keep the house warm enough to ensure that pipes don’t burst – you don’t want to completely turn off the heat, especially if you are going on vacation.
When I’m home alone, I keep the heat pretty low and just bundle up in sweaters, blankets, and robes. Yes, I feel a little silly, but I generally don’t need to heat the house just for me, especially when I’m generally just sitting in my office working.
Only heat what you use
This is another place where those programmable thermostats help. If you aren’t using an area of the house, you can keep that temperature low. For instance, our basement has heat, but I only use it when I know I’ll be in the basement for an extended amount of time. You can also close vents and shut doors if you don’t want to heat a specific room, but don’t have it on a separate heating zone.
Cover Windows, Leaks, Attic Doors
If you had a home energy audit done, they may have pointed out areas where you can cover windows (with plastic wrap kits that can be purchased an a home improvement store), caulk up leaks, and cover attic doors (again with plastic). These changes can be very affordable and could have a big impact.
Get Your Furnace Cleaned and Checked
If you haven’t had your furnace serviced lately, it’s a good idea to get it cleaned and checked. Cleaning it and make it run more efficiently, and it’s always a good idea to make sure everything is running smoothly. If you have a maintenance plan on your furnace, this is often included in the price. Just make sure you hire someone you can trust – you don’t want to be sold a new furnace if you don’t need one.
Do you have other tips to save on heating bills? Let me know in the comments.