Congratulations, you made it through last year’s frigid winter! As a Central PA resident, you probably experienced an incredibly tough winter (compared to the more recent mild winters) with higher utility bills and a few extra sweaters than normal. It seems like the cold temperatures weren’t ever going to lift! But we all hunkered down under a few more blankets and toughed it out through the single digit temperatures.
We have no idea what this winter is going to bring us, but we do know that if you follow these 11 easy tips you could be more comfortable and ease the heating bills this year!
11 Easy Tips to Help Lower Your Heating Bill!
Turn the thermostat down a few degrees
You may like your home to be 80 degrees when you come in from a cold, blustery blizzard, but by keeping the temperature of your home set higher, you are paying dearly for heat. The general rule is for every degree you turn your thermostat down, you should save about 3% on your heating bills. That’s a huge savings if you are able to turn your thermostat down 3 to 4 degrees!
You also don’t need to keep your thermostat set as high when you are away from home. To cut back on heating costs when you are at work or away, turn back the thermostat a few degrees. Do not turn off your heat when you are gone, this can lead to freezing problems. We suggest turning your thermostat back to the mid 60’s when you are not home.
Use fans in your home wisely
Many homes have ceiling fans to help keep you cool during the summer, but you can also use your ceiling fan to keep you warmer in the winter! By reversing your ceiling fan in the winter, you can move the warm air that hangs closer to the ceiling downward.
Turn down your water heater temperature
Lowering your water heater temperature just a few degrees can help save on your utility bills without a noticeable difference to you when you are taking a shower or washing dishes. The US Department of Energy even advocates turning the temperature down to save on your energy consumption in their nice article on water heater temperature.
Install foam pipe insulation
Foam pipe insulation is an easy and cheap way to retain the heat in hot water pipes that are in un-insulated spaces. The pipe insulation can be picked up from your local hardware store and installed with relative ease.
Keep your heating vents clear
Make sure your vents or registers aren’t blocked. This is essential in making sure your home is heated evenly. Go through each room in your home and make sure the vents aren’t blocked by other objects. If you think your ductwork is being blocked and you can’t find the reason for an air blockage to your vent you may need to have a professional duct cleaning.
Use insulated curtains to keep the heat in
Use this as an opportunity to re-decorate your home for the winter while adding to the savings on your utility bills! Insulated curtains can keep the heat from escaping through your windows during the frigid winter months.
Block gaps around windows, doors and receptacles
Unsealed gaps are just like leaving the front door open to heat the entire neighborhood. Inspect the areas around your windows and doors for gaps or old weather stripping. Also make sure your wall receptacles aren’t letting in cold air.
You can pick up foam weather stripping, window and door caulk, and specially designed receptacle and switch insulation plates to seal up these areas of your home.
Winterize your windows
If you have older windows that you don’t necessarily mind if the view is obscured for a few months out of the year you could put plastic over the windows to help save from a heat loss. This works better on single-paned windows and we wouldn’t recommend it for windows that you frequently enjoy the view from. But in a spare room or less used area of the home you may benefit from insulating the windows this way.
Install a smart or programmable thermostat
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. A programmable thermostat is probably one of the best investments you can make as a homeowner to help save money on your heating and cooling costs. Thermostats are becoming more and more advanced and even integrate with many smart phone applications now. So yes, there is now an app for that.
Make sure to change your air handler air filter
Changing your air filter on time will help cut down on your energy consumption and reduce the wear and tear on your heating system.
Have a planned maintenance performed on your system
A planned maintenance on your furnace or heat pump is essential each year to ensure it is running at its maximum efficiency and it can help prevent costly breakdowns. Another advantage of consistently having a planned maintenance performed on your heating system is discussing with your heating contractor the expected lifespan of your heat pump or furnace and being able to expect when it might make more sense to upgrade to a more efficient and newer heating system.