Ways to Cut Down on Winter Heating Costs
Don’t let chilly weather wreck your budget. Use these tips to help cut down on heating costs this winter.
When the weather turns cold, you want to make sure you’re staying nice and cozy inside. However, if your furnace is working overtime, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise when the energy bill arrives. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to cut down on costs and keep warm during winter months.
8 Ways to Cut Down on Winter Heating Costs
You shouldn’t have to be shivering all winter long. If you’re wondering how to reduce expenses without setting the thermostat to a less-than-comfortable level, try any of these simple tips:
1. Heating System Inspection
When your heating system has been sitting idle for months, you want to give it a test run before it carries the load for the winter. Having your heater inspected annually by a professional ensures it’s running at peak efficiency and getting you the most for your money.
Those with a gas-powered heating system should also consider a carbon monoxide test. It’s a quick and easy process that will give you peace of mind the combustion from the furnace isn’t releasing dangerous levels of the toxic gas in your home.
2. Program the Thermostat
You might not be able to break out your shorts and flip flops, but there are other ways to manage your thermostat besides just turning down the temperature. One of the best things you can do to cut costs is program it carefully. This means keeping temperatures comfortable while you’re at home and cooling things down while you’re at the office or on vacation. There’s no reason to pay to keep your home at 68 degrees all day if no one is there to enjoy it.
Nighttime is also an excellent opportunity to turn the dial down and save a little extra. In fact, sleeping in colder temperatures has been shown to improve sleep quality and combat insomnia. Just make sure your thermostat doesn’t drop lower than 40 degrees. When areas of your home get colder than this, you’re at risk of pipes freezing and bursting.
3. Reverse Ceiling Fans
We typically associate ceiling fans with cooling us down during sweltering summer months. Did you know they can also help keep you warm during the winter? Most ceiling fans have a small switch at the base that will allow you to reverse the rotation of the motor. Once the weather gets cold, adjust your fans to spin in a clockwise direction. It will create an updraft, pushing the warm air that has risen to the ceiling down into the room. With this small, simple adjustment you can get the most out of your heating system’s output.
4. Maximize the Sun
While winter days might not be long, the sun can still deliver a lot of warmth during peak hours. In North America, south-facing windows will pick up the most natural heat. Because the sun sits lower in the sky during winter months, it’s easier to direct this light into your home. Throughout the day, keep curtains and blinds open to allow as much natural light as possible. Be sure to close them up again once the sun sets to trap in as much of the heat as possible.
5. Dress for Success
It’s fair to say you don’t need to spend winter shuffling around the house in your parka to cut down on heating costs. Sometimes simple adjustments can make the biggest difference. Instead of walking around on cold floors in bare feet, slip on a pair of socks. Further, layers are always your friend when it comes to maintaining a comfortable internal temperature. A small investment in the right clothes or blankets will keep you cozy and save money in the long run.
6. Eliminate Unused Space
Are you paying to heat areas you don’t even use? Guest bedrooms, extra bathrooms and basements are all parts of the home that might not see daily use. In these situations, close the vents and doors to keep them from sucking up all the extra warmth. This not only forces heat into the areas of your home you actually use, but also maximizes the efficiency of your furnace’s output. Remember to check in on these spaces regularly to ensure temperatures aren’t dipping too low and causing damage.
7. Seal Windows and Doors
Even small cracks or gaps in the seals of windows and doors can let surprising amounts of warm air escape. Avoid fighting an uphill battle by sealing off these areas as much as possible. Anywhere you can see a small amount of light coming through is likely causing issues.
Fortunately this is generally an easy fix. Window frames may need a fresh layer of caulk or weather stripping to completely shut out the cold, and doors can often be remedied with a draft guard or simple rolled-up towel between the floor and base of the door.
8. Unplug Electronics
To cut winter heating costs, sometimes you have to make tradeoffs. Though it’s convenient to keep your cable box powered up or a video game console in rest mode, these are constant drains on your energy usage. Consider which electronics and appliances you can unplug to conserve during the day when they’re not being used. With a few small changes you’ll start to notice the difference when the energy bill shows up at the end of the month.
The Benefits of an Energy Assessment
If you’ve tried all the tips and tricks to cut down on winter heating costs and they just don’t seem to get the job done, it might be indicative of a larger issue. In this situation, an energy assessment can help pinpoint areas of improvement. A certified inspector will observe, measure and evaluate the factors affecting energy usage in your home including the size of your home, the efficiency of your appliances and the quality of your insulation. They may also perform a thermal imaging inspection that can identify unseen areas where energy is escaping.
After observing your home, the inspector will generate a report detailing energy-saving improvements that can help reduce overall energy costs. They’ll happily review their findings with you and answer any questions you have along the way.
Find a Certified AmeriSpec Inspector Near You
AmeriSpec is one of the most trusted names in the home inspection industry. Our certified inspectors are trained to perform numerous specialty inspections that will help you better understand the condition of your home and what you can do to improve it. To stay warm this winter without all of the extra expense, schedule an inspection to assess energy use in your home.