With colder temperatures and shorter days, winter months tend to be among the most expensive when it comes to your energy bills. Heating your home requires the use of either natural gas or electricity - both of which have financial and environmental costs. However, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your heating costs while staying warm and cozy throughout the season.
Here are our best tips for how to save on your heating bill this winter (and don’t worry, none of them involve huddling around a fire). They fall into two main categories: Taking steps to reduce heat loss, and using heat more efficiently. We’ll share how to do both, and how to use Simple Expenses to manage it all!
Gas vs. electric heaters
First things first: Does your home’s heating system run on natural gas or electricity? The average American household spends $72.10 on natural gas each month, and $110.76 on electricity. Knowing which kind of heating you have where you live can help you figure out the best ways to save on your heating bill.
Natural gas heating is typically more expensive to install (from $2,000+) but less expensive to operate. That’s because gas furnaces tend to heat a home faster than electric heaters, and natural gas is usually cheaper than electricity.
Heating systems that run on electricity are typically more energy-efficient than those that run on gas. With an electric heating system, if you don’t use several rooms in your house often, you don’t have to heat them. (Electric heat usually has zonal control options that central gas heating does not.) The efficiency of only heating certain rooms can make electric heating a less expensive option for certain homes.
Reduce heat loss
You’re paying good money to warm your home - so it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep that warmth in, and the cold air out.
Open blinds during the day, close them at night
When the sun is shining directly on your home, it will warm the rooms inside. Natural sunlight can raise the temperature significantly in a room during the daytime - so if the sun is shining, open your curtains and blinds!
At night time, close those curtains and blinds before the daytime heat escapes through through the glass. So long as the sun shines again the next day, repeat the process.
Air-seal your home
Are you accidentally leaving the door open all day? Hopefully not - but you might be letting cold air in through small gaps around the edges of your windows and doors.
Luckily, air-sealing your home is actually really simple and affordable and it can help you save a ton in heating costs.
Most drafts come through the edges of doors and windows, and you can use caulking around the edges to help with the problem; for your doors, try attaching a draft stopper. Caulk and draft stoppers don’t cost much money, and they will save you a lot of money over time, as your heating bill will be cheaper. If you have a fireplace, the US Department of Energy also recommends checking for open fireplace dampers.
If your windows have locks, make sure that all the windows in your home are locked. This can help seal heat (and cool) in as well!
Install extra insulation
Good insulation is one of the best ways to save money during winter. Insulation keeps the warm air inside of your house for longer, so that you don’t need to leave the heating on all of the time. However, it can be difficult to know if your home has enough insulation. One way to know is to look at your roof after snowfall: if there are melted spots, you don’t have enough insulation. The melted spots are created when a gap in your insulation allows lots of heat to leave your house through a small area.
You can buy insulation and install it yourself, but we recommend asking a friend to help you, as it can be a time-consuming task. Make sure you insulate your attic, as most of the heat will leave through the roof of your house.
Turn your ceiling fan clockwise
Did you know that your ceiling fan is able to run clockwise and counter-clockwise? Running it counter-clockwise in the summer pushes the cool air down, helping you stay cool. In the winter, switch it to the reverse direction (clockwise) and run it at a low speed. This will draw the room air up towards the ceiling and push the warm air down, which will help you stay warm!
Use heat more efficiently
Keep registers clear
Do you have a large piece of furniture blocking the registers where warm air is pumping out? This is not only a potential fire hazard, it’s also a waste of heating! Go around your house and make sure all registers are unobstructed so you can get the most out of your heating.
Use space heaters in strategic places
Lots of people spend the majority of their time in one or two rooms in their house. If you do this, consider switching off your heating entirely and swap to space heaters. Although space heaters are actually more expensive to use than heating, you will still save money as you will be only using them in one or two rooms.
Strategically place a space heater in the room you use the most, so that it will heat the whole room. We recommend keeping your space heater away from the window, so that you lose less heat while it is on. Keep the heater switched off while you are sleeping and at work to save even more money (and also for safety reasons).
Keep your HVAC system clean
Are you in the habit of replacing your air filters every 30-60 days? If not, your HVAC unit might be working harder than it needs to (aka wasting you money). Set a reminder to change out your air filters on a regular schedule so that your heating works as efficiently as possible.
Turn down the heat
Once you have started to make small adjustments to keep you warm, such as air-sealing your home, you can try lowering the temperature of your home. It is likely that you won’t notice the drop as your home is better insulated, and you will save money on your heating bill.
If you find that your home is too cold, raise the temperature back up a degree or two. You can also try wearing warmer clothes, or you put an extra blanket on your bed or your couch to help keep you warm. Electric heat pads and blankets are also a nice way to stay toasty during the colder months.
Switch to a smart thermostat
If you are able to install a programmable thermostat in your home, this can be another great way to make your home more energy efficient. Programmable thermostats can automatically heat and cool your home according to when you’re actually there - so you don’t accidentally heat an empty house.
Switching from a conventional thermostat to an energy-efficient smart thermostat can save you 10%–12% on heating and up to 15% on cooling.
Track your bills with Expenses!
Another way to stay on top of your heating bill is to track it with Simple Expenses! Set up an Expense for all your utilities, and set a budget for how much you’d like to spend each month. Then, log into your natural gas/electricity bill account and add your Simple account or debit card as a payment option. We’ll set aside the correct amount each month, so your bill is covered! Learn more about setting up Expenses here.
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