There are simple steps you can take even in the middle of winter to cut your home heating bills without sacrificing comfort. The following tips can cut your heating bill by 20 percent or more, and none takes more than 30 minutes to complete; you don’t need to be super handy and these simple steps do not require expensive tools. Plus, the materials are mostly inexpensive to buy and install, so you’ll see a quick return on your investment.
Cut Your Home Heating Bills: Replace Worn Weather-Stripping
You can cut your home heating bills by replacing worn and torn weather-stripping around doors and windows that creates drafts and lets in cold air. Seven to 12 percent of a home’s heat loss occurs around windows and doors. These leaks often prompt homeowners to turn up their furnace to keep comfy. Even if you don’t turn up the furnace, you’re losing warm air, causing the furnace to work harder. Weather-stripping around doors, and caulking around doors and windows, can cut down on drafts. Some weather-stripping needs to be replaced every few years because of wear. Replacing it is typically is as simple as pulling off the old and tacking on the new. The tools to do this are not complex, the skills to do this are basic, and the cost is absolutely minimal.
Adjust Door Thresholds
If you can see daylight under your front door, then you’re losing the indoor air you’ve paid to heat. If the door is not in contact with the threshold, the air is going right under the door. Some thresholds have four or five screws that let you adjust the height to eliminate a gap. You can cut your home heating bills by simply turning the screws counterclockwise to lift the threshold until daylight is mostly gone. A little light in the corners is okay, but don’t raise the threshold so high that it interferes with opening and closing the door. The door shouldn’t drag on the threshold or it’ll wear out the weather-stripping.
Eliminate Drafts around Electrical Boxes
Electrical boxes in your exterior walls are notoriously drafty because insulation isn’t always placed behind and around them correctly. You want to try to stop air from flowing around the box and through the box. You can cut your home heating bills by removing the cover plates and filling small gaps around the boxes with acrylic latex caulk. If the gaps are larger, use foam sealant. Place a foam gasket over the outlet or switch and replace the cover plate. The gaskets cost about $1.10 for a two-pack. The gasket is going to save you money for as long as that outlet is in your house. That very small investment pays dividends for as long as you own your home.
Plug Holes in Exterior Walls
Pipes, gas lines, and electrical cables that enter your house often have gaps around them that have been haphazardly filled with some kind of caulk. That caulk eventually cracks, peels, and falls off. These gaps let in outside air; they are also ideal entry points for mice and insects. Seal the gaps with expanding foam. For water pipes under the sink, unscrew and pull back the escutcheon ring, then caulk around the pipe. The ring is just decorative it’s not going to block airflow.
A Portable Heater Will Allow You to Turn Down the Furnace
You can cut your home heating bills if you put a space heater in the place where your family gathers, like the living room, and turn down the furnace temperature. The rest of the house will be cooler but you’ll be warm, and you can save 3 percent on your heating costs for every degree below 70 F that you turn down the furnace. Savings will vary so check with your utility for exact numbers.
Portable heaters start at about $30, and an electric heater that uses 1500 watts will cost you 14 cents per hour, based on a rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour (the average kilowatt-hour rate in Washington State is 8.2 cents). Again, check with your utility for exact numbers. You can feel comfortable that the savings from reducing the furnace temperature should offset the cost of using the space heater and then some.
Cover Windows and Patio Doors with Plastic Film
Windows account for 25 percent of heat loss in homes. Covering the windows and sliding patio doors with clear plastic film can reduce heat loss. Using that plastic will save about 14 percent on your heating bill. The transparent film is inexpensive; you can find it for about $5 to $6 for 62 x 84 inches at home centers. The film is simple to put on and won’t harm your trim. If you put it on correctly you’ll barely notice it. It is easily removed in the spring.
A Chimney Vents Warm Air from the House
The downside to fireplaces is that when they’re not in use, your warm indoor air is escaping through chimney. Even when the chimney flue is closed, some warm air is probably still getting away. An easy solution is to block the airflow with an inflatable chimney balloon. The balloons are available on amazon.com and other retailers to fit various chimney sizes.
Insulate the Attic Access Door
Even in a well-insulated attic, the access door may not be properly insulated, letting warm air escape. If the door is warped or something obstructs the opening you will lose the air you are heating. You want to make sure the door is insulated, and you want to make sure it forms a good seal. You can use adhesive to attach fiberglass batt insulation to the attic side of the door. If the door won’t lie flat, use a latch system to close it tight.
Cut Your Home Heating Bills: Install a Programmable Thermostat
Prices for a programmable thermostat have dropped dramatically over the last few years. You can now pick one up for about $25. You can cut your home heating bills by setting the temperature low during the day when no one is home and at night when everyone is sleeping, you can use it to raise temperatures at the times when you want it, such as when you get up in the morning and come home from work. People won’t remember to turn the thermostat up and down each day; a programmable thermostat will do this for you.
You can reduce your home heating bills by 10 percent if you turn the thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day. The oft-repeated notion that when the furnace needs to work harder to warm up the house will negate your savings is a myth, you do save money.