It seems like inflation isn’t going to end any time soon. And it’s no secret that natural gas, oil, and electricity are more expensive than ever. The reasons don’t matter when you have that bill in your hand. What matters at that moment is finding ways to save so next month’s bill doesn’t punch you in the face again!
Cold times are upon us! Pumpkins, turkeys, candy canes, Valentines, and, of course, snow. During this time, your energy bills can skyrocket even more than they did over the summer. There are a few things you can do yourself or through a professional that can help. Even the tips that require a pro to come in may cost upfront but will save you in the long run – and can even increase the value of your home.
What are 3 tips that can help save you money on your heating bills?
- Seal cracks & crevices
- Install proper insulation
- Upgrade your thermostats
Let’s explore each one.
Seal Cracks & Crevices
Sealing cracks and crevices in your home can keep out the cold air seeping in this winter. The good news is it can also keep out the hot, humid weather in the summer, so this is one tip that can help year-round with saving on energy bills. Your heating system (and your cooling system when the time comes again) will run less if you can maintain a consistent temperature in your home. Having drafts can keep that from happening. Start by identifying the main spots in your home that can be susceptible to these openings.
- Dropped ceilings
- Plumbing and utility access
- Recessed light figures
- The foundation
- Water and furnace flues
- Attic entrances
- Behind knee walls
- Door and window frames
- Air ducts
- Outlets and switches
Take a close look around these areas to identify holes or cracks. If the sun is shining in, a pest can get through and so can the wind. On a windy day, you can actually make your house smell nice while checking for cracks. Light some incense and put it close to the areas you’re checking. Watch the smoke. If it goes straight up, you’re good! If not, well there’s a draft there. Put a piece of paper underneath a door or window and shut it tightly. If you can pull the paper out of the door without dragging or ripping it, then there’s an air leak. A professional can come in and do this for you, but knowing where drafts usually are before they get there can be helpful. You can caulk around windows and whatnot, but a professional will do it best and it will last the longest.
Install proper insulation
Insulation traps tiny pockets of air to slow down the movement of heat out of the house in the winter and into the house in the summer. As long as it’s installed correctly and is the correct “R-Value” for your area, the EPA estimates that the average homeowner can save 15% on heating and cooling costs (11% of total energy costs) by adding insulation in attics, crawl spaces, and basement rim joists. Even though it can be a costly endeavor, it’s considered one of the wisest investments you can make. A properly insulated home will make it more comfortable, quieter, and can increase the value of your home. If you choose the right insulation, you can even find some that will help control pests for you. Some insulation is treated with natural borates that pests don’t want to be around. That may be reason enough to have it done, but also helping you save money and be comfier at home? Sold!
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Upgrade Your Thermostats
Considering upgrading to a smart thermostat? If you don’t want to shell out for one, even a programmable one will help. You can set a programmable thermostat to go up and down based on your schedule. If you’re at work or school and nobody is home all day, set it to go down so your heat won’t kick on for no reason. Set it to go up 15-20 minutes before you get home, so you aren’t walking into a cold house. You can even set it differently for the weekends when you and the family are home more often. Set it to go down at night when you’ve got your blanket and comforter on, too. According to ENERGY STAR, that can save you at least $50 a year. A smart thermostat allows you some more flexibility than figuring out your schedule beforehand. If you’re away for a week, you can set it at a low but not too low temperature for the whole time you’re away. And if you forget, you can do it from the beach (lucky you). The Department of Energy recommends setting the temperature to 68°F or lower when you’re home and awake, and to 60°F all other times. If you can tolerate colder temperatures, go for it! Every degree you set your thermostat down will save you money.
Every winter is a tough winter in our area! With prices like they are, it seems like this coming one may be even tougher. So, everywhere we can scrimp and save will help. It could mean an extra Christmas present for the kiddos, a bigger donation to the homeless shelter, or even could mean groceries that week. Even if it doesn’t mean any of those things, we all want to save money.