7 Easy Ways to Slash your Winter Heating Bill
Whether it’s a nip in the air or snowfall in the forecast, winter weather likely has you using your heater more. In fact, heating is the largest energy expense in the average American home, accounting for as much as 45% of energy costs.
Walton EMC’s energy advisors provide this checklist of quick-and-easy ideas for cutting cold weather power costs.
1. Bundle Up
Pack away the warm weather wardrobe, and instead wear warm clothing and turn down your thermostat. Use a maximum setting of 68 degrees during the day. Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust your home’s temperature to 55 degrees when you are sleeping or away from home for an extended period. Remember that each degree of difference in thermostat settings can reduce your energy costs by 3–5%.
2. Dodge the Draft
Cold air can creep in through minor cracks and gaps found throughout the average home. If there’s light coming in around doors or windows, so is air.
Add or replace damaged weatherstripping around doors to get a complete seal.
Seal cracks around windows with weather-resistant caulk.
Look behind light switch and outlet covers. If you see gaps, install pre-cut foam gaskets (available at home improvement stores) under the covers to block cold air.
Other places to find and stop drafts: around utility cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around chimneys, recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
3. Move It
Make sure warm-air registers are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.
4. Heed the Water Heater
Heating water can account for up to 25 percent of your household’s total energy bill. To cut costs, lower the heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is safe and sanitary for most households, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Next, add a layer of insulation around the tank with an easy-to-install water heater blanket. Pre-cut blankets are available at home improvement stores for as little as $20. While you’re at the home improvement store, pick up some pre-formed, pre-cut insulation to wrap around your water heater’s hot and cold water pipes.
5. Freshen Filters
Dirty or clogged air filters force your heating system to work harder for proper airflow, using extra energy and raising costs. Clean or replace filters once a month or as needed to permit better air flow through the house.
6. Deal with the Ducts
You can improve the efficiency of your heating system by as much as 30 percent just by identifying where air is escaping along ductwork. Look for exposed ducts in the attic, basement and crawlspaces. Repair places where pipes are pinched, which impedes flow of heated air to the house. Patch small holes or misalignments using mastic, a paste-like substance that is easily spread across the seams of ductwork and dries to a solid cement-like quality. Mastic can be purchased from home improvement stores or companies that sell supplies to contractors.
7. Let the Sun Shine In
Naturally heat your home by opening curtains on south-facing windows during the day. Close curtains at night to protect your home from losing heat through the windows.
With just a few easy steps, you’ll have a warmer, more energy-efficient home for the winter — and a lower electric bill, too.