We all want to conserve energy. It’s good for the environment and good for the wallet – which is especially helpful around the holiday season. For a lot of people out there, utilities can be a crippling monthly expense. This can create a lot of arguments around the thermostat. Luckily, there are things that you and your family can do to help curb the cost of heating while still staying sane.
#1 Bundle Up
This is probably the most common and that’s because it’s the simplest and easiest way to cut cost and keep warm. Use your own body heat by adding a layer or two to your ensemble. Since we lose most of our heat through our extremities, some warm comfy socks or slippers will help big time. Keep cozy thick blankets scattered throughout the house and don’t forget to cover cold floors with area rugs.
#2 Turn on the Fans
Think turning on the fans in the winter sounds like straight up crazy talk? Think again. The key here is that you are simply trying to improve the airflow going on in your house. You can change your ceiling fans to actually trap heat by adjusting them to turn clockwise. Turn it to a low setting and gently push hot air back on down.
#3 Use Natural Heat
Nothing is warmer than the sun. Make sure to keep your windows nice and open when that big beautiful orb in the sky is shining. This is especially true on the south-facing windows. This will bring free natural heat into your home. There’s a reason why your cat or dog will curl up in a sun spot if they find one. It’s cozy! Also, don’t forget to shut all of your blinds and windows as soon as the sun goes away. This will help trap that heat you’ve spent all day collecting.
#4 Be Strategic With Your Thermostat
A quick and effective way to save money on your heating bill is to simply turn down the heat at night when you’re going to bundling up under the covers anyway. The U.S. Department of Energy has reported that you can save about 10 percent per year on your heating bills by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours. That’s pretty significant! Hate sleeping in the cold? Try investing in some flannel sheets and a warmer down comforter.
#5 Upgrade Your Thermostat
The next option is to only heat the rooms that you are using. Luckily, we live in a technologically advanced world now where we can do this pretty easily with the right smart home system. Worried about the cost of these devices? Well, consider that a programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 per year in heating and cooling costs, according to Energy Star. That might make it worth the initial $250 or so investment. Especially considering that a lot of energy companies are offering rebates these days.
#6 Upgrade Your Appliances
Did you know that Energy Star refrigerators use 50 percent less energy than those manufactured 15 years ago? That’s huge! Energy Star-qualified dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerators can truly make an impact on your energy bill, plus they look a lot nicer too! And because water heating costs can account for a little over 10 percent of your utility bills, you may want to consider tankless (which means they only heat water on demand) gas and solar options to maximize efficiency there too. You may be hesitant to replace these big ticket items in order to save money, but if you’re staying in your house for more than a few years it will very likely pay off for you.
#7 Check Your Home for Proper Sealing
One of the best ways to make sure you aren’t throwing money out the window is by resealing your home. Sealing air leaks is huge both in the summer and the winter to make sure you are keeping the outside from creeping in, and the inside from leaking out. There are companies that you can hire to come in and inspect your house for these inefficiencies. Utility-approved technicians can evaluate your home’s energy performance and install basic weatherization and energy-saving measures such as sealing air leaks and installing energy-efficient lighting, faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads.
Or if you feel like you want to handle this yourself, there are plenty of things you can do on your own. You should be able to easily go to your local hardware store to weatherstrip your windows and caulk any air leaks in only a few hours, with very low material costs. You can also use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration. The best part about this is that you don’t have to do too much to see an immediate return.
#8 Go for LEDs
Another quick and easy way to save money is to head out and grab some energy-efficient LED light bulbs to replace any conventional ones you have in your house. According to the Energy Department, residential LEDs — especially Energy Star-rated products — use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. Consider this energy-efficient lighting option around Christmas time as well if you’re considering lighting up your house with string lights as well.
#9 Keep Your Furnace Clean
By properly maintaining your furnace and vents, you can easily reduce energy consumption. To do this you’ll want to check on your furnace filter monthly and make sure to replace it when it’s dirty. It’s also a great idea to have an HVAC professional come out to inspect your furnace before the cold season begins. This typically costs around or under $100 and will include an inspection of air duct leaks, intake blockages, and any mechanical or electronic failings. If you have wood- and pellet-burning heaters, clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.
#10 Don’t Forget About the Fireplace
The fireplace can be a terrific source of heat for you, so it’s a great idea to use one if you’ve got it. Keep in mind, however, that when you aren’t using it, it could be working against you. The damper acts as an extra window, making it another route for heat to leave the home. It’s very important that you make sure to shut the fireplace damper and seal the opening whenever it is not in use.