“Ready or not, here I come,” says winter. So the question is…are you ready? There are things you can do to save money this winter, and unless you want to pay more for your heating than you did last year, you need to get ready.
Why you need to prepare for winter:
- Half of the energy used in your home this winter will go towards heating, according to the EPA.
- The average home will spend $1137.00 this winter on heating. That’s a 15% increase from last year, according to the Energy Information Administration.
- Heating costs will increase partly due to rising cost of fuel, but also because of projected colder weather.
5 Ways to save on heating this winter:
1. Home Energy Audit
An audit is often the first step towards saving money because it helps you figure out how much energy your home uses, and evaluate what you can do to improve efficiency.
To audit your home yourself, you can use Energy Star’s Home Energy Yardstick to compare your home’s energy efficiency to other homes in your area and get recommendations for energy-saving home improvements You’ll need your last 12 months of energy bills for this. Many energy companies have your information available online if you don’t have your statements.
You can also use a professional home auditor. First contact your utility company to see if they offer free or discounted energy audits. According to Energy Star,a professional auditor can use a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of your home. Thorough audits often use equipment such as blower doors, which measure the extent of leaks in the building envelope, and infrared cameras, which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation.
2. System Check-up
A yearly check-up to your heating system can improve efficiency, and can also prevent future problems. Because contractors get busy in the winter with problems, it is best to schedule your check-up in the fall. Energy Star offers 10 Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor.
3. Add Insulation.
According to the Department of Energy, unless your home was constructed with special attention to energy efficiency, adding insulation will probably decrease your utility bill. You may have spaces in your home that have never been insulated, and by adding insulation to these areas will help you to save. See this diagram from the DOE for ideas on where to insulate in your home. For more information, view the DOE Insulation Fact Sheet.
4. Install a Programmable Thermostat.
According to the DOE, You can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat. They recommend setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home. By turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for 8 hours, you can save about 5%–15% a year on your heating bill—a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.
The DOE also shares that a common misconception associated with thermostats is that a furnace works harder than normal to warm the space back to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, resulting in little or no savings. This misconception has been dispelled by years of research and numerous studies. The fuel required to reheat a building to a comfortable temperature is roughly equal to the fuel saved as the building drops to the lower temperature. You save fuel between the time that the temperature stabilizes at the lower level and the next time heat is needed. So, the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save.
5. Change Filters Regularly
Check your air filters every month, and if they looks dirty change them. This is especially true during the colder months when your system is working harder. A dirty filter clogs the air flow and makes your system work even harder to warm up your home. Keeping the filter cleans also prevents the build-up of dirt and dust in your system. The dirt and dust in your system can lead to costly repairs and shortening the life span of your system.
6. Seal Your Heating Ducts
According to Energy Star, ducts that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent — and sometimes much more. Visit Energy Star for more information on sealing and insulating ducts.
What ways have you found to save money on your heating bill? I’d love to hear your ideas and stories!
Photo Credit: oliworx
- Download the EPA’s Guide to Energy Efficient Heating & Cooling