Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cold weather is coming...Seven Tips to Save Money on your Heating Bills.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the average homeowner could see an 8% drop in heating expenses this winter. This much needed relief could come from a milder winter being predicted and lower fuel costs. Homes that heat with electric could see a decline of 2%, while homes that heat with natural gas and propane could see their bills drop 12%-14%. How much households save will also depend on the actual weather this winter (predictors have been known to be wrong before) and the energy efficiency of households and their heating equipment.

While this is good news, it got me thinking about what we can do to reduce our heating bills even more. We currently heat our home with a gas fireplace that is in our living room and baseboard heaters in the rooms the heat from the fireplace doesn't reach. The gas fireplace is situated in a spot that shoots the warm air right up our stairs and heats our entire second floor.

Has the thermostat dance started in your home? Does your spouse turn it up when you aren't looking and you turn it down, or vice versa? I try to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees in our home during the cold months. My husband thinks that is too cold, but I say put on a sweater or a blanket. This week, I washed our extra blankets for our beds and our throw blankets for our TV room. I refuse to buy a "snuggie".
  1. Consider buying a programmable thermostat. claims that "homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings." An ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat will automatically turn down the heat at night and when the home is unoccupied and turn it back up when the homeowner is scheduled to return home. The settings will also apply to cooling your home in the warmer months. I checked Lowes and a unit runs between $50-$100.

  2. Use your kitchen and bathroom fans wisely. It only takes an hour for these fans to send all your warm household air out the vents. In other words, don't over-use.

  3. Get your furnace, gas fireplaces, and other heating equipment serviced. We had our fireplace serviced last year and the technician suggested every two years for it, but you should check your owner's manual. Our fireplace needed a good cleaning and we noticed a difference in it's efficiency afterwards. Just like your air conditioner, furnace air filters need to be replaced to be efficient. Again, consult your owner's manual for time guidelines.

  4. Close the door and shut the vent of seldom used rooms. Our guest room is mighty frigid in the winter, it is a good thing we don't have too many guests.

  5. If you have a fireplace, keep the fireplace damper closed when you are not using it to prevent heat loss. Don't forget to open it before you start a fire. My husband did that once when we were dating, it wasn't pretty and his roommate was very upset. And when the fire is completely out, don't forget to close it up again. An open damper will allow huge amounts of heated air to escape. Did you know that the fire in that romantic wood fireplace actually sucks the heat out of a room? I didn't, but we don't have a wood fireplace currently. Unless it is your only heat source, you might want to save the wood fireplace for...ahem...romance...

  6. Let the sun shine through your windows on those sunny days, but close those curtains or blinds at night to avoid any heat escaping.

  7. Stop the draft from your exterior doors. Our family room has 3 doorways, leading to our garage, sunroom and basement, that blow cold air into that room in the colder months. We bought some inexpensive draft stoppers to help block the cold air.

Are you ready for cold weather? Do you have any money saving home heating tips?

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