When winter rolls in the biggest issue might be your bills rather than the cold. With energy usage up, whether it’s electricity or natural gas, the average home has large spikes that can prove to be unfortunate for the homeowner.
Fortunately, with some forethought, you can head off hefty winter bills and make it through to spring with a little bit more cash in your pocketbook. Let’s look at some easy methods to save you the headache and heartache that comes with the winter billing spike.
1. Programmable Thermostats
One of the easiest ways to keep your bills down is using programmable thermostats to their utmost capabilities. Ideally, your central heating should be controlled by a thermostat that will let you program by the hour and day.
When using one you can choose the temperature to run the house when you’re home, one for when you’re at work, and even lower the temperature while you’re sleeping. Most people will want to keep things different on the weekends which is why a thermostat that works by the day instead of just a 24-hour cycle is handy.
They can cost a bit upfront but with a bit of finesse, you can drastically reduce your heating bills during the winter with a programmable thermostat.
2. Judicious Use of Space Heating
Space heaters are one of the best ways to drive your electric bill through the roof, everyone knows that.
However, using them wisely can actually help keep bills down. If it’s just you, or you and a significant other, in a home then a great way to save on your heating bill through the winter is to use a space heater to keep the bedroom warm.
In areas where things freeze, however, your pipes may still freeze up. That can make them a bargain in some areas but a liability in others.
Still, as a general rule space heaters cost less to run than most types of heating when you’re using a high-efficiency model. Just make sure that you don’t need central heating just to keep your plumbing intact.
3. Seal Things Up
Most homes have air leaks. It’s just a fact of life and they may not cause a perceivable draft in normal weather. These leaks can cause a horrible loss of efficiency over the course of the cold season, however, and you should look into getting them sealed up.
If you’re the DIY-type you should wait until you have around a 30° differential in temperature between indoors and outdoors and go take a look for warm spots around the outside of the home. Most can easily be sealed with weatherproof caulking.
If you’re not, then a home inspection will allow an HVAC professional to find them for you. It might cost a little bit of money but over time it can add up to big savings on your winter energy bill.
4. Pay Attention to Windows
Blackout curtains are actually great at keeping thermal energy in place, in addition to keeping rooms dark. They’re a relatively small investment for most homeowners but they can help keep the heater from running throughout the whole day.
You don’t have to use them year-round if you feel they’ll interfere with your interior decor, but a good set will help keep warmth from creeping out the windows.
Double-paned windows are an even more efficient way to keep heat in. The vacuum between the glass pieces is an incredible insulator, but it may take a few years for you to get a complete return on investment since replacing windows is an expensive task.
Lastly, before winter you should check the weather stripping on your windows. If they’re cracked or otherwise damaged you should replace them to keep air from leaking out of the home.
5. Lower Your Thermostat
A difference of 5° on your thermostat can easily be made up for with a good sweater and lower your bills a substantial amount. It’s not counter-intuitive… it’s just thrifty.
Using warm clothing around the home through the winter months will let you keep the thermostat at a lower temperature and your heater running less often.
Remember that your thermostat only exists to keep the heat at a certain level, it’s not a throttle for your heater overall like some people assume. Establish a baseline temperature you can live with through the winter months and the savings can be enormous.
6. HVAC Inspection
Find a professional in your area to take a look at your heater and ducting. Dust and other debris can accumulate in ducts and overall lower the efficiency of central heating.
Small fixes can be made to your heater as well. Things like filters or less efficient components will add up over the cold season and every part of the system should be in optimal shape so you can get the most bang for your buck.
Best of all: your chances of a heater breaking down during the winter go way down. Coming home to a frozen house is no fun and the repair bill is likely to outstrip most of the other savings you’ve made by carefully planning ahead.
You should have a service done at least once a year anyway, so why not schedule it for just before winter comes knocking at your doorstep?
7. Cover the Attic Door
If you have an attic with an uninsulated ceiling you have an air-gap that’s not doing you any favors. Even if you have blow-in insulation upstairs you can actually save quite a bit of money by just buying a roll of fiberglass insulation and running it over your attic’s entrance to prevent warm air from escaping.
Since warm air rises… this is actually a pretty big concern. Just remember to wear gloves when you remove the insulation in the spring since fiberglass fibers will render most people itchy and uncomfortable.
Keep Warm and Save Cash This Winter
You don’t have to be uncomfortable to save money on your winter heating bill. Indeed, if you follow the above tips you’ll not only save money but likely enjoy an overall warmer winter.
The cold months are right around the corner, are you prepared to save on your monthly bills? If not, there’s no time like the present.