With winter weather sweeping in, utility bill costs can easily get away from us. These fourteen tips can help you keep costs low and without sacrificing comfort.
1. Service Your Furnace
Servicing your furnace is one of the first things you should do to prepare for winter. It’s important to ensure that furnace filters are clean so that your furnace doesn’t have to work harder than it needs to, causing you to spend more money on heating than is necessary. In addition to checking the furnace itself, you’ll also want to inspect the ducts to ensure that there are no leaks as the hot air travels from the furnace to your vents.
2. Insulate Your Hot Water Heater
Most new hot water tanks are already insulated, but if you’re in an older home, adding insulation is a home improvement project that can pay big dividends. One of the reasons that hot tubs are expensive is that it takes a lot of energy to heat water. The same is true inside your house, and in the winter, your heater has to work all the harder. Insulating your tank is an inexpensive way to save on heating costs. While you’re at it, be sure to check that the thermostat isn’t set above 120-130 degrees, as overheating water is costly.
3. Close Your Fireplace Damper
If you use your fireplace to provide supplemental heating, remember to be conscious of the damper and keep it closed when the fireplace is not in use. While the outside airflow is essential when a fire is lit in the hearth, leaving the damper always open can welcome drafty air in from the outside, cooling your inside temperatures and causing your furnace to kick on more regularly.
4. Check Windows and Doors for Leaks
The same can be true of windows and doors that aren’t fitted well to your home’s frame. Especially in older homes, cracks around windows and doors is a common problem that can drive up heating costs in the winter. You can make a start at saving by caulking small gaps and repairing large gaps.
5. Invest in Heavy Curtains
While preventing leaks on the outside of your home around windows is a great place to start, you may also want to help your house retain heat by investing in drapes or heavy curtains as an extra layer of insulation. Remember that sunlight can add significant warmth, though, so if you do utilize drapes, consider keeping them open during the day, especially on south-facing windows.
6. Install Weather Stripping
For doors, you’ll want to install weather stripping to help seal gaps. Like everything else, weather stripping can become worn over time, so even if you have it around doors already, you may want to replace it this winter. Be sure to add weather stripping to your front door, back door, side doors, and - what is sometimes easy to forget - your garage door.
7. Consider Blocking off Uninsulated Rooms
Uninsulated rooms can be another huge source of heat loss. If you don’t need the space, consider blocking off uninsulated rooms - such as covered porches, attics, and unfinished basements - during winter months.
8. Use LED Lights Outside with a Timer
Many homeowners have made the shift to use LED lights inside their homes to save on electricity costs, and this is also a great practice for outside lights. Decorating for the holidays with outside lights is a beautiful gift to your family as well as your neighbors, but extra lighting can become expensive if not done properly; be sure to use outdoor LED lights, and consider putting lights on a timer so that they don’t run when it’s light out or when they won’t be appreciated.
9. Program Your Inside Heat
Just as it’s smart to put your outside lights on a timer so that you don’t forget to turn them off during the day, it’s also a good idea to invest in a programmable thermostat for the inside of your house. It’s easy to fall asleep and not realize until the morning that you forgot to turn the heat down. A programmable thermostat can help you save a lot over time.
10. Use Oven Heat
Ovens are great for a lot more than baking cakes and casseroles. Use the heat generated from your oven any time you bake to warm your house by leaving the door open after you turn the oven off.
11. Avoid Using Space Heaters
Space heaters add an extra layer of comfort, but if you don’t need them, try not to use them. They cost roughly $2.82 to run for 16 hours, and while that might not seem like a lot, it can add up over time. (Why not spend that money on a coffee?)
12. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans to Draw Air Down
Remember the saying “heat rises”? Consider distributing heat throughout your house by using a ceiling fan at low speed, since ceiling fans are highly cost-efficient. If you do use ceiling fans, however, be sure to reverse the direction of the blades. Fans cool the house in the summer by rotating counterclockwise, creating a cooling breeze. In the winter, by switching the direction the blades rotate, the air is drawn gently upward, causing the warm air near the ceiling to come down into the rest of the room.
13. Invest in Winter Wear
An obvious way to save on money during the winter months is to keep your house heat a little lower than you normally would, but that doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable! Invest in winter wear like high-quality sweaters, cozy house slippers, and warm flannel sheets.
14. Be Conscious of What’s Not in Use
On the same topic, it’s smart to be conscious of what’s not in use. If you leave a room, be sure to turn off the light, turn off the TV, etc. It’s easy to forget these small money-saving practices, but simply being aware of what’s not in use can help trim your electricity bills.