Save on Your Heating Bills Without Becoming a Family of Popsicles
Sometimes, tried and true is where it’s at. And here at Save Home Heat, we believe firmly in relying on expertise and knowledge to get the job done right. So when we share information that makes your life as a homeowner easier, we like to remind you of those things every now and again. Which is why we’re bringing you this “From the Attic” series installment – where we share some of our most valuable older content again – You know, like how you sometimes find that old outfit in a box in the attic and give it new life by styling it differently? It’s kind of like that. We dive into our archives, freshen up one of the best we’ve got, and deliver it here. For our inaugural blast from the past, we’re talking saving money on heating bills.
As families and homeowners start utilizing the ‘heat’ setting on the thermostat regularly, it’s important to know what you can do to keep those costs down without turning into a family of popsicles. Luckily, there are several fairly reasonably priced things you can easily do to cut heating expenditures and keep more money in your pockets.
Keep Up with Maintenance
Regular annual furnace maintenance is a huge concern and it is the very first thing you should do to make sure your equipment is running like a well-oiled machine (it IS a machine, after all). The cost of most annual maintenance plans from trusted local pros make this annual investment as painless as possible.
In addition to annual professional care, you need to make sure that you or someone checks your furnace filter regularly throughout the season and replaces it accordingly. Many people don’t understand that dirty filters restrict airflow and consequently cause the furnace blower to work harder. Neglected furnace filters can, over a period of time, decrease the useful life of your equipment and lead to premature related parts failure – while simultaneously gobbling up more energy and negatively impacting your comfort levels as well as your bills. Every home and system is different, and while some homes only need a new filter every three months or so, others might need changing every four weeks.
Configure Your Thermostat’s Time Settings
If you have procrastinated or just been too lazy to configure your thermostat, you are throwing money away. Many thermostats have the ability to program different temperatures for different times of day. If your home is vacant for up to eight hours a day, why spend the money heating it to 70 degrees or higher during that time? If you don’t like ending the work day by returning to a cold home, you can program your thermostat to raise the temperature a half-hour before you arrive. There are also thermostat options that can allow you to raise your heat setting remotely from your smart phone or other devices, allowing for greater programming flexibility while you’re away from home.
Furthermore, you can also save money by setting the temperature to a lower setting during the nighttime. As we sleep, our beds and blankets do a great job of trapping our body heat. It may not be worth it to you to waste money on heating that you don’t need once you’re down for the night. If you hate getting out of bed in the morning and shivering, you can program the temperature to rise just before you wake up.
Insulation, Weather Stripping, and Caulk
Insulation is a great way to save money for years to come. But is your home well enough insulated? You should check that your attic is properly insulated, since heat rises – it would be a good idea to grab a tape measure and record the depth of insulation up there, and then call a local insulation contractor for advice. While you’re at it, you should also ask the professional insulator about your exterior walls.
There are several things you can do around the house to help reduce outside air infiltration and eliminate some of those annoying cold drafts. You can buy relatively affordable door and window seals and weather stripping that are easy to install and help seal those pesky small cracks where heat leaks out and the wind blows in. There are even clear plastic films you can apply to the inside of your window frames to preserve the heat in your home, like a low-cost temporary storm window installed for the entire season. For cracks in the wood framing around your windows and doors, there are a variety of caulking products available for exterior or interior applications, depending on your needs. We recommend that you learn more before you ‘go there.’
Hot Water Heaters
Lastly, water heaters can hemorrhage money and energy if they aren’t properly cared for. There are two fairly easy things you can do to save money. First, you can lower the hot water temperature.
Most water heaters are preset to 140 degrees, but 120 degrees is suggested for most households by the US Energy Department. 120 degrees Fahrenheit is hot enough for typical household needs, and is still high enough to prevent mineral buildup in the system. By common measurements, you can save 3–5% off your bill for every 10 degrees you lower your water heater temperature setting.
Secondly, you can insulate your hot water heater to reduce and slow down heat loss from the storage tank. Some newer water heaters – but not all – are available with factory-installed insulation that will do the trick, but most older tanks may benefit. There are lots of things to consider when insulating a water heater tank, and written instructions that come with the blanket should be strictly followed. If the blanket did not come supplied with written instructions, then you might be best advised to have a professional install it for you. There are absolutely safety issues involved with the way the blanket should be installed!
Saving money during the winter isn’t too difficult – it just takes a little bit of time, some common sense – and a good incentive, like saving money and increasing your comfort! Take our word for it, give some of these ideas a try this winter. You’ll be glad you did!