Keep Your Wallet Cozy, Too: 5 Tips for Cutting Down on Heating Bills

Energy, Gas & Water, Utilities
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warm feet

While playing outside in the winter snow can be fun, everyone likes to go inside their home to get all warmed up afterwards. Unfortunately high home heating costs make it difficult for many people to meet their financial goals and heat their homes adequately. In fact, more than 90% of homes are expected to have higher heating prices this winter than last, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Afraid to even look at your heating bill this month? It doesn’t have to be that way. Try these five tips to cut your heating bill down without having to freeze inside your home.

1. Use plastic film to cover window and patio doors

You won’t be opening windows or heading out to the patio until spring, so cover them up with clear plastic film. Drafts from these sources account for approximately 25 percent of heat loss in homes, but sealing them off can help you to save around 14 percent on your monthly heating bill. The plastic film is easy to apply and can be found at most home improvement stores.

2. Lower the thermostat

While this one is obvious, you may be surprised to learn exactly how much you can save. For every degree your thermostat is lowered, you can save up to 3% on your heating bill. So if you were to lower the temperature by just 5 degrees for the eight hours you’re at work and another eight hours while you’re sleeping ? a total of 16 hours per day ? you can save approximately 7% each month on your bill. Purchasing a digital thermostat can allow you to program the different temperatures in, so you won’t even have to think about it.

3. Keep cold air from coming in the chimney

Your fireplace keeps your home nice and toasty when a glowing fire is lit, but when not in use, it offers a direct path for cold air to get in. Closing the chimney flue helps, but won’t block out all the cold air. An easy solution to this problem is to purchase a $50 inflatable chimney balloon online or in home improvement stores, to save around $100 per year. Afraid you’ll forget to take it out before lighting a fire? Never fear ? it deflates itself automatically, so you won’t be left with a smoky house.

4. Check for drafts

Use a candle or an incense stick to look for drafty areas on a windy day. Take note of any areas where air is creeping in and plug it up. Door sweeps can be used to seal areas under exterior doors, drafts around window frames can be kept out with caulk, and installing outlet gaskets to electrical outlets in outside walls can help to keep cold air from entering your home. Most of these quick fixes cost $10 or less and will pay you back multiple times over on your heating bill.

5. Properly maintain your heater

It’s important to keep your heater in good working condition so it doesn’t stop working during the middle of a snowstorm and to keep it running efficiently. Scheduling a professional checkup at least once per year for electric and oil heaters, and every other year for gas, helps to ensure its not wasting energy. Also, be sure to replace the filters on a regular basis, as dirty ones can cause your heating bill to rise.

While it’s inevitable that your heating bill will rise during the winter months, it doesn’t have to become unmanageable. Following even a few of the steps above can help you to keep your home warm and toasty, without having to face an outrageously high electric bill. Just remember ? every small effort counts, so any sacrifice you can make will save you money.

Cozy feet image via Shutterstock.