Get a Handle on Your Home Heating Costs

Get a Handle on Your Home Heating Costs
  • Opening Intro -

    Fuel prices continue to rise with seasonal fluctuations most apparent as the weather turns cold.

    Your first heating bill following a cold snap may be shockingly high, leading you to search for solutions to lower your future bills.

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Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your heating costs immediately. There are also various low- and high-cost solutions, what you may want to explore as your budget and time allows.

1. Lower your water heater setting. Your water heater may be set to 130 degrees or higher, a temperature well above what is needed to provide warm showers. Lower that temperature to 120 degrees, even to 115 degrees and you’ll still enjoy comfortable showers.

2. Control your thermostat. Lower the setting on your thermostat and you’ll reduce your heating bill. It is that simple. Most homes can be comfortably warmed at 68 degrees. Put on sweaters and you can lower that temperature to 65 and see your heating bill drop accordingly.

3. Make use of your curtains. During the day, open wide the curtains covering the windows facing the sun. You’ll gain both natural light and heat. At night, draw the curtains closed to hold heat inside.

4. Keep heating vents open. Walk around your home and inspect every heating vent. Each one should be open and clear. Furniture and carpeting placed over a vent will cause heat to be distributed unevenly throughout the house, tempting you to raise the thermostat to compensate.

5. Install a programmable thermostat. A low-cost solution that most any homeowner can handle is installing a programmable thermostat. New homes have them and most old homes can be retrofitted to include one. For about $70 you can automatically control your heating and see your energy bills fall as a result.

6. Look for leaks. Stand near a window or a door on a windy day and you may notice a draft coming in. You can block out cold air by using caulk, door sweeps, weather stripping and outlet gaskets to keep the cold air at bay.

7. Add insulation to the attic. Is your home properly insulated? If not, you’ll use more heat in the winter and run the air conditioner longer in the summer. Seal exposed areas in the attic with new insulation and you’ll control your energy costs with ease.

8. Get a furnace check. When was the last time that you had your furnace inspected? Annual inspections can ensure that your heater is working efficiently. The air filter should be replaced annually; regular tune ups can help them run optimally all winter long.

9. Cover pipes and the water heater. New water heaters typically come with an insulation jacket, but yours may lack that feature. This is especially important if your heater is in an exposed area such as underneath the house or in your garage. Wrap your water pipes too to preserve heat.

10. Replace windows and doors. A much more expensive job is to replace your old windows and doors with new ones that are ENERGY STAR efficient. Expect to pay $100 to $200 for each window, and at least $500 for every entrance door. The cost may be tax deductible; the savings you will see long term.

Stay Warm

If your furnace is old, consider having it replaced. Today’s furnaces are much more efficient than the ones made 15 to 20 years ago. You may be eligible for a tax credit and you’ll have a new unit that won’t be prone to breaking down. Your costs will vary depending on the size of the home, the furnace brand, and where you live. Additional modifications, such as duct work, may be necessary in some homes.

See Also3 Tactical Home Renovations to Help Beat the Heat

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Categories: Heating and Cooling

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".