Prepare to increase your budget for home heating this winter. According to the National Energy Directors’ Assistance Association, you could pay an average of 17.2% more to heat your home this season. With the highest costs in the last decade, homeowners will want to find ways to soften the blow and save on heating bills. Follow these steps to maximize your home’s efficiency when temperatures dip.
Don’t let your HVAC maintenance slide
Follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your HVAC system. As the price of oil and gas home heating rises, ensure your HVAC system runs at peak efficiency. Schedule an annual inspection and cleaning with a professional before the coldest season begins. Check your air filter and swap it out for a new one if needed.
Seal out the cold air
Prevent cold air from entering your home and dragging down the interior temperature. Look for the source and take corrective action if you feel a draft.
Cold air can find its way inside by traveling through gaps in the doorframe. Check the weatherstripping around your door and replace or repair it if necessary. If you notice a draft coming in between the door and the floor, use a draft stopper as an easy and cheap solution to blocking cold air.
Like doors, aging windows may not provide proper insulation against winter temperatures. Repair cracks and seal any noticeable gaps between the frames and the walls. Close and lock windows to keep out as much air as possible. If you allow sunlight to warm the house in the daytime, remember to draw the curtains or blinds after dark to add another layer of protection between your home and the cold air.
If drafts through windows constantly leave you cold, consider replacing your windows.
If one room feels colder than the rest of your home, you may sense that it lacks the proper installation. Do you really know what’s behind your walls? The Insulation Institute recommends a home energy audit to determine if your home’s insulation meets the recommended minimums. If not, a professional can help you determine what steps to take and where you might want to add insulation.
Often the cheapest way to heat a home involves a conscious effort to maintain the proper temperature in the rooms you use the most. To avoid wasting heat throughout the day, consider your typical schedule and focus on increasing your comfort during the times you’re at home, in the rooms where you spend the most hours. Consider closing off vents in areas that you use less frequently to see if it makes a difference.
Manage the thermostat
Don’t pay for unneeded heat. Lowering the thermostat a few degrees can also lower your heating bill. Make a conscious effort to remember to turn down the thermostat when you go out. If you have a set work schedule, consider a programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat. If you have more than one zone of heat in your house, lower temps in zones you don’t use as often.
According to Accuweather, the optimal indoor temperature is 68 degrees. If you prefer to keep your home warmer during the day, consider how well you could tolerate lowering the thermostat at night. When working from home, try adding an extra layer of clothes or using blankets to keep you warm while saving a few dollars on your heating bill.
Consider radiant heat or a space heater
When you only need to heat a limited space, a space heater may keep you warm and help to save heating costs. Of course, this depends on how much electricity you’ll use to achieve a comfortable temperature. If you find that a space heater works well for you, remember to always follow safety precautions. Keep children away. Do not use a space heater when sleeping. Set the heater far away from any flammable items such as sheets or blankets.
If you’re renovating a bathroom or moving into a new construction home, consider heated flooring. Radiant heat generated below your ceramic tiles helps to maintain a comfortable temperature in smaller rooms of your home.
Use your fireplace more efficiently
If you use a gas or wood-burning fireplace, ensure it’s clean and working efficiently. Rather than simply use a fireplace for decorative purposes, look for ways to safely maximize the heat produced to help save on costs to heat the rest of the home.
Finding the cheapest way to heat a house may require a combination of multiple strategies throughout the winter. Open your curtains or blinds to allow for solar heating on sunny days. Program your thermostat and lower the temperature at night, or when you’re away from home. If you use a gas heater for home heat and hot water, try turning the hot water setting down a notch this winter to save money. Check your bill each month to determine if what you’re doing makes a difference. No matter the method of heating used in your home, always take proper safety precautions.