When the first snowflake hits the ground, that is as good a signal as any that your heating appliances at home will start working overtime. No matter what the size of your house is, your utmost priority should be to keep it warm during the winter season.
This also means that your utility bills will most likely be on the rise. 50% of your utility bills come from heating and cooling costs so if you have less than efficient heating appliances at home, expect your utility bills to significantly increase. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for you to save money on heating costs – starting from something as simple as wearing more clothes to keep you warm, to more complex ways like switching to energy-saving heating appliances.
How Much Do You Spend on Heating?
Before counting down the ways through which you can save on heating at home, let us first take a quick look at how much is actually spent for this aspect of your household maintenance. As mentioned earlier, 50% of your utility bills go towards heating and cooling. This means that during both cold and warm season, around half of your electrical consumption will come from the workings of the heating appliances.
The Independent Statistics & Analysis website of the US Energy Information Administration predicted that heating costs for most household will rise as compared to last year’s winter’s level. Of the 116 million homes in the US, over 90% are expected to spend more on heating costs for the winter season of October 2013 to March 2014. The main reason is the higher projected prices of residential propane, natural gas and electricity. Here are other interesting statistics published on EIA’s site:
- The most common source of heating fuel used in the average American home is natural gas. This is followed by electricity, heating oil, propane, wood and kerosene.
- An average home, using natural gas for heating will spend around $680 this winter. This is a 13% increase from the average over last year’s winter.
- Homes that use propane will spend around $1,600; those who rely on electric heat need to shell out $900; while those who use heating oil will spend more than $2,000.
If the experts in energy already predict a rise in heating costs for the average home in the US, that’s all the more reason for you to implement ways to save on heating costs. Even if you have sufficient funds to pay for an astronomical bill, there’s no reason why you should do so. Observing energy saving techniques will also help you do your share in helping save the environment by reducing your home’s carbon emission.
Creative Ways to Save Money on Heating Costs
Now, what are the specific ways through which you can save money on heating costs? Take a look at the following list:
Dress warmly for the winter – and ‘dress up’ your home, too!
This may sound like a given but not dressing warmly for the winter – even inside your home – will cost you in terms of increased utility bills. Even if the fireplace offers you that toasty warmth, the heat may not necessarily reach your bedroom.
Put on layers of clothes, and make sure that your legs and feet are warm. It wouldn’t hurt to dress up your home for the winter, too. Replace those thin blankets with thick, warm comforters.
Better yet, purchase electric blankets for all members of the family. Flannel sheets placed over mattresses are also weather-appropriate. Bring out those winter rugs and replace thin curtains with thick drapes. Putting warm blankets on your sofa would also help you cosy up while watching some late night TV. The colder it is outside, the warmer the accessories inside your home should be.
Think of ways to cut back on your utility bills.
Based on EIA’s chart, natural gas is the most common source of heating fuel in the US. Other energy sources used for heating are electricity, heating oil, propane, wood and kerosene. If you live in a state where gas prices are low compared to the rest of the country, then you should definitely use gas for heating.
If you have a house near the forest where you can gather lots of wood, use that as your primary source of heat. You can install a wood burning stove for cooking, or use it to light up your fireplace at night. If you just moved to a new place, ask a neighbour what their primary source of heating fuel is, so that you can follow suit.
Consider investing in solar energy.
As you may already know, investing in solar panels eventually pays off. You can use it for lighting, heating and running other electrical appliances inside your home. However, do make sure that your area is getting enough sunlight per year to make the investment worth it. Otherwise, look for alternative sources of renewable energy.
If you have a swimming pool, you should definitely invest in a solar water heater because its cost savings will pay off on the long run.
Make adjustments to your thermostat.
Even turning down the temperature on your thermostat by one degree will help you save money on heating costs. Just imagine the cost savings that you will incur by turning it down a few more notches. Remember that the temperature variation near the thermostat affects the whole house, so it should be placed in an area that’s neither too hot nor too cold.
If possible, install an automatic timer to keep the thermostat at a constant temperature during the day and at night. Make sure you’re wearing warm clothes inside the house too, because if it’s too warm, you are most likely wasting lots of money on electricity for heating.
Are your windows, doors and roofs properly insulated?
Before the winter season arrives, make sure to take the time to check on the insulation of your home’s windows, doors and roofs. If you have a ten-year-old window which lets in much of the draft during the winter season, it’s probably time to replace them. There are storm or thermal windows that you can have installed in the coldest areas in your house, particularly the attic and rooms with an open back area.
You can also have storm doors installed before the winter season officially starts.
A way to let in the heat from the sun’s rays is to open up the draperies and shades – at least when the sun is shining at its brightest. Weather stripping your doors and windows is another way for you to keep the inside of your home warm. Use window sealants – they’re cheap and easy to install. If you see any cracks or holes where heat might escape, have them repaired immediately.
For older homes, it might be a good idea to upgrade the insulation just to make sure you are not spending any more than you have to on heating costs.
Make sure your furnace is in tiptop shape.
When was the last time you had it serviced? For a small fee, you can have a representative from a gas or oil company come in to check on the condition of your furnace. If you want to do it yourself, make sure all the parts are clean, the air filters are replaced if necessary, and see to it that the warm air is not obstructed by dust or dirt. If there are cracks along the boundary of your fireplace, caulk it to make sure no warm air escapes.
Use the fireplace to keep your home warm.
Nothing depicts the winter season better than the whole family camped up in front of the fireplace. However, it can be a way for warm air to escape, too, so make sure to close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
Know how to save heating costs in the kitchen.
There are plenty of ways for you to save on heating costs while preparing meals for your family. When heating liquids, cover the container. Do not use oversized pots or pans when cooking a small amount of food because this simply wastes precious heat inside the kitchen. Thaw frozen meats before cooking, and use the microwave instead of the stove when reheating food.
Additional ways to save money on heating costs.
If you want, you can call your local electric company and ask them if there’s a difference between electricity rates during the daytime or night-time. If the answer is yes, do most of your chores during the time of day, when electricity rates are cheaper. You can also ask them about additional ways for you to save money on your heating bills.
By following these tips, you can minimize your electricity costs without compromising on the heat contained inside your home during winter.