Keeping Warm on a Budget
You can ease your impact on global warming and save a few dollars; reducing home heating costs can help you with both of these goals. In harsher climates during the winter utility expenses can be one of your biggest monthly costs, coming in third after rent and groceries. If you are going to impact your monthly budget this is a great area to target.
Fortunately, making some easy adjustments in your home can dramatically assist you in reducing home heating costs; one of your largest utility expenses.
Easy No Cost Steps
Open the curtains on your south-facing windows during winter days to bring free heat into your home. Close your window coverings when the sun goes down to keep the heat inside.
Wear Warm Clothing
This is one of the easiest ways to save on your heating bill. Instead of turning the heat up, put on a cozy winter sweater and warm socks; wear slippers in the house. Keep throw blankets on your couch, and add an area rug to insulate the floor.
Lower Your Thermostat
Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60 degree to 70 degree range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs. Wear warm clothing like a sweater and set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the day and evening, health permitting. Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees or off at night or when leaving home for an extended time, saving 5-20 percent of your heating costs (heat pumps should only be set back 2 degrees to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heating).
Use Fans Wisely
In just one hour, a hard working bathroom or kitchen fan can expel a houseful of warm air; this is according to the Department of Energy. Turn them off as soon as they’ve done their job.
Keep the fireplace damper closed. Heat rises, and an open damper is like a hole in the roof. Also, limit use of the fireplace, since fires actually suck heat from a room.
Close Off Seldom Used Rooms
Shut the vents inside a room that you are not using and close the room off to the house. There is no reason to heat a room that you are not using.
Keep Heating Vents Clear
Vents blocked by rugs and furniture prevent heated air from circulating efficiently.
Easy Steps That Have Big Impact with Minimal Cost
Replace Furnace Filters
Replace or clean furnace filters as recommended. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy use. Now is also the time for a furnace tune-up. Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated, and properly running will reduce energy use, saving up to 5 percent of heating costs.
Caulk leaks around windows and doors. Look for places where you have pipes, vents, or electrical conduits that go through the wall, ceiling or floor. Check the bathroom, underneath the kitchen sink, pipes inside a closet, etc. If you find a gap at the point where the pipe or vents goes through the wall, seal it up. Caulk works best on small gaps. Your hardware store should have products to close the larger gaps. Check outlets on walls exposed to the outside wall, insulate around them if there are leaks.
Insulate Your Basement
Don’t let warm air escape along joist cavities.
Insulate Your Attic
Reduce Hot Water Temperature
Set your water heater to 120-degrees Fahrenheit, unless the owner’s manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Savings are in the 7-11 percent range for your water heating costs.
Add a Humidifier
This lets you turn the thermostat down and be comfortable at lower temperatures.
Support from Your Utility Many utilities offer discounts or rebates on energy-saving products. Call and ask. Loans are also sometimes available for major improvements that will incorporate energy-efficient products or to purchase a high-efficiency home.
You can get a wealth of information and free audits from your local utility or from for profit companies.
Energy Saver Northwest (free audit)
Puget Sound Energy (my local utility)