Winter Woes: Reducing your Heating Bills

October 30, 2015

The days are getting shorter and the air is getting crisper as the seasons start to change. As the air starts to get chillier, we are reaching that time of the year when people start to rely on their heaters. But a lot of people have the same question in the back of their mind every time they adjust the thermostat: “How do I save more money on my heating bills?” Well, don’t worry – there is good news. There are several things you can easily do to cut heating expenditures and put more money in your pockets.

Keep Up with Maintenance
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). More specifically, you need to make sure that you check your furnace filters and replace them accordingly. Most people don’t understand that dirty filters restrict the airflow and consequently cause the blower to work harder. This decreases the useful life of your equipment while simultaneously gobbling up more energy.

Configure Your Thermostat’s Time Settings
If you have procrastinated or just been too lazy to configure your thermostat, you are throwing money away. Most thermostats have the ability to program different temperatures for different times of day. If your home is vacant for up to 8 hours a day, why spend the money heating it? If you don’t like ending the work day by returning to a cold home, you can choose to raise the temperature a half-hour before you arrive.

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 when you rest. If you hate getting out of bed in the morning and shivering, you can adjust the temperature to rise just before you wake up.

Insulation and Weather Strips
Insulation is a great way to say money for years to come. But is your home insulated? You will want to check that your attic is properly insulated since heat rises, and there are other things you can do around the house, too. You can buy inexpensive door seals and weather strips that are easy to apply and help ensure that heat won’t escape through small cracks. There are even plastic shields you can apply to windows to preserve the heat in your home.

Hot Water Heaters
Lastly, hot water heaters can hemorrhage money and energy if they aren’t properly cared for. There are two things you can do to save money. Firstly, 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.

Secondly, you can insulate your hot water heater to prevent the loss of excess heat. Most newer water heaters come with factory-installed insulation that will do the trick, but older tanks may benefit. There are lots of things to consider when insulating a water heater tank. Special considerations have to be given to the hottest areas, exhaust, electrical components, and more. Because of this, it is probably best to hire a professional (your extra blankets won’t cut it).

Saving money during the winter isn’t too difficult–it just takes a little bit of time and common sense. You would be remiss not to implement these techniques this winter because they can save you substantial amounts of money!