6 ways to save on winter heating costs

Finances

Obviously, if you want to save money on heating costs, lowering the temperature in your home can help. That’s the easy part. But if you really want to slash your heating bills this winter, try these six strategies. 

  1. Install weather stripping around windows and doors. “This simple home improvement can save you anywhere from 30 to 45 percent on your winter heating costs,” says Scott Fridrych, director of Residential Construction at MACK Companies, a Chicago real estate company. Weather stripping, which you can easily find at your local hardware store, keeps warm air indoors and prevents the cold air outside from seeping in.
  2. Change air filters regularly. Changing the filters in your heating and cooling system will not only improve the air quality in your home, but also extend the life of your systems by priming them for optimal efficiency, says Mike Bruce, product marketing specialist at Honeywell. That is, the harder your system has to work to heat your home—using more energy because the filter is dirty—the shorter its potential lifespan. With regular filter changes, you’ll save on electricity costs now and extend the life of your HVAC system.
  3. Service your furnace. Just like dirty filters, a dirty furnace has to work harder to get its job done, using more electricity and either oil or gas, depending on what kind of system you have. Having your furnace serviced annually helps it run more efficiently, saving you money on all of your energy costs.
  4. Keep baseboards and grates free of dust, debris, and furniture. Consider rearranging some of your furniture for optimal winter heating. When cabinets, bookcases, or couches are blocking your baseboard heaters, you won’t feel all the heat they are putting out. It’s the same with air grates in floors and walls—you want them free of anything blocking their ability to provide warm air. Similarly, pet hair and dust that builds up on both kinds of heating elements can leave rooms feeling colder, forcing you to turn up the thermostat to make up for the difference in temperature.
  5. Use window treatments to let in the sun and keep out the cold. Closing the drapes on cold winter nights can help prevent as much as 10 percent of heat loss, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. On sunny days, open the curtains or shades on south-facing windows, and let the sun’s rays help to warm your house for free.
  6. Install low-flow showerheads. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heating is the second biggest energy cost in your home, and it can account for as much as 20 percent of your utility bills. If you like to take long, hot showers to warm up in the winter, consider installing low-flow showerheads. These water savers often put out less than two gallons per minute, while some older showerheads (those made before 1992) have an output of more than double that—5.5 gallons per minute. So you’ll save by having to heat less water for your hot showers.
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