We call it “cold, hard cash” but it actually costs a lot of money to keep your home warm all winter long. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), during the winter of 2018-2019, the average U.S. household spent around $581 using natural gas, $1,520 using heating oil, and $1,174 using electricity. That’s no chump change.
The good news is there are plenty of free (or very low cost) ways that you can lower your heating bill this winter.
- Turn down the thermostat. Even lowering the temperature a few degrees can save you 5-10% on your heating bills. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to automatically lower the temperature when no one is home.
- Keep your curtains open during the day to allow sunlight in and take advantage of free solar heating. Then close the curtains at night to provide insulation for the windows to keep heat in.
- Limit the use of bathroom and kitchen fans. Sometimes you need these fans to vent out smells or moisture, but be aware that it’s pushing out warm air as well.
- Change your air filter on schedule. When the filter gets dirty, it affects the airflow and makes your heating system work harder (using more energy). Check the package of the filter for the manufacturer recommendation but most products should be changed out every 1-3 months.
- Close the vents and close the doors to rooms that are not in use. Why spend money to heat a room that isn’t being used?
- Use a ceiling fan. Set the fan blades to rotate forward (usually counter-clockwise) to push warm air back down to where you can feel it. In the spring, reset the fan to spin in reverse to circulate cool air around the room.
- Make sure heating vents or radiators aren’t blocked.
- Close the damper on your fireplace (when not in use, of course).
- Shop around for better energy rates.
- Use a candle to detect air leaks. Hold the candle near windows, doors, and electrical outlets – and check to see if the flame flickers or moves horizontally. If it does, that likely mean cold air is sneaking its way inside. Depending on the size and location, you can use caulk, weather-stripping, or spray foam to seal the gap.
Bonus idea: getting a heating system tune-up at the beginning of the winter can go a long way toward saving money on energy bills. The cost of the appointment is much lower than repair service, and since the tune-up keeps your system running at max efficiency, it can pay for itself over the next few months.