The following is a guest post by Jocelyn Anne.
Falling temperatures doesn’t have to mean big heating bills. We’ve got 24 easy ways to reduce your heating bill and save energy at the same time. Here’s to a frugal heating season!
Check for peak hours. Always check with your local electricity provider to see if there are peak hours when rates are higher as well as prime hours when they might be lower. If so, change when you use major appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and showers. You could be getting charged extra at certain times of day and not even know it.
Do some research. Not all fuel costs the same in all locations. Some areas in particular have very low gas rates, while others offer lower rates on electricity. Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re using the fuel that’s the most economical for your location.
Heat less of your home. Instead of using your home central heating system 24 hours a day, opt for small room heaters that you can use to heat just one room at a time. This is perfect if you spend the majority of your day in a home office room or for night time when you won’t be in any other room except your bedroom.
Switch to all Energy Star appliances. As your budget allows, slowly begin switching your older appliances out for Energy Star rated appliances. A home with all Energy Star appliances is generally 15 to 30% more energy efficient. Also, if you get your home Energy Star rated, you will increase your home’s retail value considerably.
Let the sunshine in. Make sure to open those blinds all day long so your home can soak in the free heat of the sun! And be sure to close them at night to keep heat in.
Consider energy efficient curtains. If you really want to increase your home’s energy efficiency, putting up energy efficient curtains to seal in heat can make a very big difference.
Opt for a programmable thermostat. Another way to reduce your heating bill is to get a programmable thermostat. No more forgetting to turn off the heat before you leave for the day or down at night when you go to bed.
Clean furnace filters regularly. You should aim for cleaning furnace filters once a month. As they get dirty, it gets harder to push air through, meaning more energy consumed. Keep them clean to keep energy usage low.
Turn your hot water heater down. Typical hot water heaters are set to 140 degrees but you can easily knock this down to 120 degrees and likely never even feel the difference.
Turn the thermostat down. You knew this one was coming! A good rule of thumb is “down by two.” Whatever you would normally set your thermostat to, subtract two. Your body will acclimate in no time.
Turn your own body temperature up. Exercise! Go get your exercise on when you’re feeling too cool. That workout will power up your metabolism and keep your internal fires burning long into the day!
Develop a new style. Make your new style a style of multiple layers! Keeping shoes and socks on at all times will also greatly aid your body’s ability to stay and feel warm.
Seal off your chimney if its not in use. If your chimney is just for show, than make sure to seal it up. Otherwise you’ve got a very large hole leaking precious warm air out into the cool.
Reverse ceiling fans. Change your ceiling fans to the reverse setting. This will circulate the hot air that rises back down to where you need it and help reduce your heating bill.
Shut off unused rooms. Utility rooms, guest rooms, etc. If you aren’t spending time in them, seal them off for the winter.
Switch light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). This might be another switch you do gradually since the upfront cost is higher, but CFLs will greatly decrease energy used. And, with the shorter days and longer hours of darkness in winter, this is particularly helpful. For starters, switch out the light bulbs you use the most, like those in the kitchen.
Use door draft stoppers. So easy and so helpful! Don’t let any cold air sneak in where it doesn’t need to!
Make sure your thermostat is in neutral area. If it’s near an area (like a doorway) where temperature changes dramatically, you could be heating unnecessarily. Move it to a room where the temperature remains relatively stable.
Consider an electric blanket. Turn off heat altogether and sleep with an electric blanket. It’s much cheaper!
Watch that oven door. Opening it during cooking will make you lose 20 to 50 percent of the heat every time. But opening it when you’re done will give you extra heat! Just be careful if you have small children or pets around.
Insulate your hot water heater. An insulator blanket for your hot water heater should only cost between $10 and $20 dollars and will save much more than that in energy used.
Install low-flow shower heads. Go through less hot water with a low-flow shower head. You can also use low-flow faucet heads to save even more in the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
Double check all seals. Have a party in the house looking for all those sneaky cracks and holes where cold air might be seeping in and then seal them off!
Decorate with tinfoil! Placing tinfoil on the wall behind your radiator (shiny side out) will make heat reflect back in and keep it more efficient.
So many options! Pick and choose whichever ways to reduce your heating bill make the most sense for your home and then enjoy your savings all winter long.
Freelancer Jocelyn Anne works alongside Air & Water and enjoys helping families find the most efficient ways to use and run a variety of heaters, particularly electric water heaters.
Chris Thomas says
The “C” in CFL stands for compact
Christina Brown says
Oops! Hate it when I make silly mistakes. It’s corrected now! Thanks for letting me know!
Bob Rahm says
Bed heaters, vs electric blankets, are more efficient and healthier, and an absolute luxury.
@Chris and @Christina — that was my fault! :) Good catch!
Just put in a wood burning stove in our living room and this is great so far the heat has only came on once in 4 hrs
@Denise, I grew up with a wood stove in our home. It was the BEST. No heat feels quite like the heat from a wood stove or warms you as completely.
FYI and warning. These are all great ideas, however if you have forced hot water heat, it HAS to circulate, especially in colder climates. We learned the very hard way this weekend, very cold in Vermont, trying to save money on fuel by using fireplace (closed in) and space heater. We froze our heat pipes. Instead of saving $20 we ended up paying a plumber $700 to make our heat work again. :o(
Christina Brown says
Good point, Jenna… just too bad it was such an expensive mistake. :-( I have also heard that you shouldn’t use programmable thermostats with hot water heat either because it takes too much work for it to catch up.
Kim fenner says
You can buy foam sheets to insulate electric sockets. This really helps on outside walls. Call your electric company and see if they do energy audits. Ours came to the house, told us what we could do to refuse our bills. They also gave us the electric socket insulator sheets for free.