Take action now to avoid high bills all season long.
If you just received your most recent heating bill, you may be in for a shock. Higher energy costs mean that some consumers are paying more this winter than last.
You can expect several more months of winter heating bills, but your future expenses don’t have to be as high as last month’s bill. Short of a major renovation project, you can do several small improvements around the home now to keep your costs contained.
Check for leaks — Heat leaks will cause your furnace to work harder, cycling longer and consuming more energy. Go from room to room and inspect each window. Windows should be latched shut to close leaks that can be easily avoided. Home improvement expert, Danny Lipford, advises homeowners to test for leaks by passing a lit butane lighter “slowly around the edges of doors and windows.” Flames that bend or flicker an indication a leak is present and that weather stripping should be repaired or replaced. Check out Lipford’s video for more information.
Inspect your insulation — If it is the first winter in your new home, you have nothing to compare this winter with. What you can do is to check the attic to ensure that insulation is in place — squirrels may have gotten in and ripped up some of it. Also, you may need to put more insulation down if what is currently in place is not sufficient. You can also reduce your electricity costs by insulating your water heater tank advises the U.S. Department of Energy.
Examine the roof — Unless you’re buried under snow, you really don’t want to take out a ladder right this moment and place it against your house to examine the roof. Walking on a snowy roof can be dangerous. However, if you’re snow-free, then go ahead and get up on the roof to ensure that shingles and flashing is in place. A shingle may have worked its way loose, allowing heat to escape and potentially causing snow run off to get inside of your home. Make needed repairs immediately and put future roof checks on your list of things to do once in the spring, summer and fall. Unclog the gutters too while you’re at it. Check out the University of Minnesota Extension for examples of heat loss and ice dams.
Replace the thermostat — An old or outdated thermostat could cause your heat bill to rocket. Today’s homes should come equipped with an electronic thermostat that adjusts temperatures automatically at different times of the day and perhaps different days of the week. Keep you heat at 68 degrees or lower and turn the heat down at night and when no one is at home. Good Housekeeping offers tips on how you can reduce your heating bill by as much as 11 percent.
Clearly, some problems you discover now may not be able to be resolved until spring arrives. If your roof is old and leaks, you may be able to patch it now. A new roof will have to wait until extended thaw arrives or once the azalea bushes have bloomed.