Along with shorter days and longer jackets, higher heating bills are often accepted as just another fact of winter. Here are six ways to lower your heating costs so you can spend these cold months in a warm home with a heavier wallet.
1. Think about the thermostat
Small changes on your thermostat can result in big savings on your heating bill. Lowering the temperature on your thermostat just a few degrees will hardly be noticeable, but that small difference may add up to a considerable reduction of your bill over time. Consider lowering the temperature even further when you head to bed, where you can use extra layers of cozy blankets to keep warm. If your home is empty during the day while you’re away at work, turn the heat down even lower until you return home.
All of this constant adjusting of the thermostat may be annoying to some, but purchasing a smart thermostat can help your savings as well as your sanity. Smart thermostats can be programmed to turn on and off at certain times during the day without you needing to lift a finger. Even better – you can have it start warming up during your commute home, so everything will be nice and toasty when you get back from work.
2. Look out for leaks
Homes are built to withstand the elements but – just like people – none are completely perfect. Checking for air leaks is a great way to avoid losing precious heat from your home. Air leaks are common around door frames, windows, light fixtures, wall switches, outlets and attics. To check for leaks, light a candle and hold it up to the cracks surrounding those areas – you’ll know there’s a leak if the flame starts to flicker or the smoke blows away. Seal the leaks using caulk or weather stripping to stop warm air from escaping.
While fireplaces can lend charming warmth to your home, chimneys can be a hot air escape tunnel when they’re not in use. Make sure you always close the damper and secure the opening of your fireplace when you’re not using it to prevent heat from leaking out of the chimney.
3. Replace filthy filters
Clean air filters permit air to flow more freely from your heating system, allowing that heat to spread more easily throughout your home. Dirty filters, however, will make that flow more difficult, causing your system to work harder to provide the same level of comfort. Regularly changing your air filters will lower your heating bill and provide cleaner air to breathe – a win-win!
If your filter is visibly dirty, it’s probably overdue for replacement. Otherwise, check your filter’s packaging for how often you should replace it, and set ongoing reminders for yourself.
4. Watch out for windows
Windows are a double-edged sword in the heating and cooling war – nearly 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through its windows. During the colder months, take advantage of warm sunlight by leaving curtains and shades open during the day. Sunlight is surprisingly effective at warming up a room and preventing the heating from kicking in, but make sure to close those curtains when the sun goes down! Adding even simple covers over your windows – like curtains – will help trap the warm air from escaping.
5. Reverse ceiling fan rotation
Ceiling fans don’t stop being useful in the winter. Normally spinning counterclockwise, ceiling fans create a downdraft that makes a room feel considerably cooler. But when you reverse the blades to spin clockwise, you create an updraft that pushes the hot air trapped on the ceiling down into the rest of the room, making the room feel warmer. Just be sure to keep it running on the lowest setting so you don’t create a cooling breeze. Changing the direction of the blade spin should be simple – most fans have a switch for exactly this purpose.
6. Put on some PJs
Everyone has that person in their family who insists that you just put on a sweater whenever you complain about the cold, but they do have a point. The warmer you dress, the less heat you’ll need to feel comfortable indoors. Find your fuzziest socks, toss on your thickest sweater and feel free to rock those flannel pajamas to stay cozy without the need to bump up the thermostat.
Just because the temperatures are down doesn’t mean your heating bill needs to go up. By following these simple tips, both your home and budget will feel more comfortable this winter.