Winter is a time of extreme weather, longer nights, and more time indoors. Taken together, these factors can lead to higher energy costs for a few months each year, much like during summer on the other extreme. No matter what your financial situation is, it’s wise to try to lower these energy costs any safe way you can. Thankfully, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to get your heating and utility costs under control in the wintertime.
We’re going to look at a few suggestions that can save you money and headaches during a season that can be equal parts festive and freezing!
Practice Heating Efficiency
Heating costs are expected to rise this winter, with colder weather than average expected. It’s no surprise that heating is a major expenditure, with around 31 percent of American households struggling to afford their heating bill each month. The average American family pays between $500 and $1,500 during the winter (depending on their heating fuel type), so anything to improve this is an excellent idea — especially for those on a fixed income.
Seal in the Heat
There are many ways that heat can drain out of our homes. While this is natural, in the winter, it can become a big efficiency issue. Think about it, if hot air is seeping out of your home, you have to continue running your heating system to replace it. The more you have to run this system, the higher your energy bill will be. Preventing air leaks helps keep warm air in your home, keeping you warmer more efficiently.
Sealing your windows and doors with weather stripping or caulking can fill these gaps and prevent air from leaking out.
So how can you do this? You can go through your home to detect any air leaks, but some of the biggest culprits are windows and doors. Sealing your windows and doors with weather stripping or caulking can fill these gaps and prevent air from leaking out. Another (often simpler or more affordable) option is to place a plastic wrap seal over your windows. Evidence shows that this simple trick may lower your utilities bill by as much as 20 percent! Together, these can keep your house warmer for less (and cooler in the summer, too).
Set the Thermostat to a Reasonable Heat
While it may seem counterproductive, setting your thermostat at a cooler temperature can save you a lot of money. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that lowering your thermostat by 7°F to 10°F can lower your energy bill by 10 percent. This means that a generally smart temperature would be around 68°F. While this may seem like a cool temperature during the winter, the savings will more than make up for this. Also, if you read on, we’ll cover a few ways to further mitigate this ever-so-slight chill. You can lower the thermostat even more at night, saving money and putting the temperature around the ideal sleeping temperature of about 60°F.
Don’t Forget Water Heating
The air isn’t the only thing you’re heating that you can adjust to save a bit of money. You also adjust the heating of your water, which uses electricity. Obviously, you can lower your bill by reducing your usage of hot water. Taking shorter hot showers and turning off faucets while doing the dishes are perfect examples, but you can even take it a step further. You can adjust the temperature of your water heater to a lower level so it doesn’t have to work as hard.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests lowering the temperature to 120° to prevent scalding water and save money.
Many water heaters are set around 140°F, which may be necessary for appliances like the dishwasher to kill bacteria. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests lowering the temperature to 120° to prevent scalding water. This can save you money, as the Department of Energy estimates that you save three to five percent for each 10°F you lower the temperature, saving you between six and ten percent if you lower it to 120°F. Also, keep in mind, you can shower at a lower temperature or even take a cold shower.
Find Other Sources of Heat
Turning the heat down in the middle of winter may seem crazy, but we’re not saying you should turn it off or just deal with the cold. You can offset the lowered heat by warming yourself in a number of non-electrical ways.
As if you needed an excuse to dress in warm PJs around the house, you can now say you’re being fiscally responsible. If you set the heat in your home to a smart 68°F and are still feeling a little cool, throw on a fluffy pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. A pair of snug socks also goes a long way in keeping us warm, since our extremities (like our feet and hands) are where a lot of our body heat escapes.
If you set the heat in your home to a smart 68°F and are still feeling a little cool, throw on a fluffy pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt.
Now, you shouldn’t be so cold that you need to be sitting around your home in a winter coat. Keep your home at a reasonable temperature. This tip is only to help you feel as comfortable as possible if following our other suggestions.
Much like dressing in warmer clothes, a warm blanket can really keep you feeling toasty on a chilly day. There are a number of ways that blankets keep us warm. They act as a barrier between you and the cold air outside and also keep warm air in around you. If you’re cutting heating costs this winter, stock up on plenty of blankets to store around the house.
Of course, if you have a fireplace, you have a simple way to generate heat for the rest of the house. If there’s one thing we know about fire, it’s that fire is hot. Creating a nice toasty fire will spread that heat throughout the house, cutting out the need to run your central heating system.
If there’s one thing we know about fire, it’s that fire is hot.
As we mentioned, heat can escape so, if you do use a fireplace as a heat source, be careful to not allow the hot air to leave your home. Tempered glass doors can prevent some of the hot air from leaking through the chimney and other fireplace inserts and strategies can help insulate the chimney to make them more efficient.
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Being cold, especially in your home, is not enjoyable, but neither is paying through the nose for the comfort of being warm. Utilizing these tips can help you find a happy medium where you can cut down on the heating bill without turning your home into a living icebox.