With the cold winter days just a few months away, it is time to get ready for the heating costs that come with them. No doubt there are many great ideas on the television and web on how you can save money on energy costs, but as usual, it takes money to save money. And, for many homeowners spending money on major home improvement projects to make their home more energy efficient may not be on the horizon this year. But fortunately, there are options for homeowners (and apartment dwellers) to reduce their heating costs and optimize savings.
Here are six simple ways on how to save money on your energy bills without making a dent in your bank account. Each of these will cost you nothing to very little. If you follow these ideas you can say goodbye to shocking heating bills.
Take advantage of the sun
Open your drapes, curtains or blinds on sunny winter days to allow the sun’s warmth to penetrate your home. Curtains act as insulation, so be sure to close them by 3 or 4 pm to trap the heat. Trimming shrubs or trees that block the sunlight may be a small step but it can help you reduce your heating bill.
If you do not have those energy-efficient windows that costs a lot, it may be a good idea to use a layer of clear insulating plastic film. This will reduce the heat loss through your windows and also allow the sunlight to come through. These films cost between $5 to 20 but could help to potentially save up to 10% of your heating costs. You can visit Energystar.gov for more information on how to apply plastic films over windows.
Program your Thermostat: In winter months set your thermostat around 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. You could save 10% on your annual heating by setting the temperature back 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day. A thermostat can be adjusted manually, but if you could spend a few bucks a programmable thermostat it will be a great investment as most thermostats feature different settings for weekdays and weekends, along with day and night. You can program your thermostat to come on before you wake up, cool down when you leave for work, warm up again when you come from work and go down again just before you go to bed. By doing this you can reduce your energy bill by about 25%.
Layer up Indoors
This pertains to turning down your thermostat. Wearing a sweater or sweatshirt, long pants and thick socks or slippers indoors sounds simple enough. Attractive soft comfy blankets in the living room to cuddle up while watching TV, reading or chatting with friends and putting throw rugs on the floors to make your feet warm and cozy can also deter you from raising the thermostat a few degrees. It will not cost you anything to wear warm clothes inside, but by doing this you save big on your heating bill.
Check for Leaks and Seal
It is estimated by the US Department of Energy that up to 30% of a heating bill is due to air leakage. Common areas where you can find cracks include around windows, doors, vents and pipes that go through the ceiling, floor or wall. You should plug these gaps. You can use caulk, gasketing, or weather-stripping, depending on what is appropriate for the location. Lifehacker advises turning on kitchen and bathroom fans to discover gaps in your house.
Lower the Temperature of Your Water Heater
Consider lowering the temperature of your water heater to 120°. According to Roth Heating and Cooling, a hot water temperature of 120-122 degrees is effective in controlling germs and bacteria. Insulating the surrounding pipes is also a great way to boost efficiency and reduce standby heat loss by 25-45%. Make sure you make small life changes like using less water while doing the dishes, doing laundry on the warm or cold water setting, using energy-efficient appliances and fixing leaks in faucets or showerheads. This may not seem like much, but when added up the impact might be bigger than you expect.
Try Zoned Heating
At night you can try zoned heating. Use a small space heater only in the room you spend time in and keep the central heat to 55 degrees. This will allow you only to heat the space you need. Keep in mind that electric heaters cost more to operate than gas or oil. But, since you are heating only one room or area at a time, your overall expenses will be lower. Also, all-electric heaters are almost 100% efficient, which means that all electricity that goes in is converted into heat that is released into the room you are heating rather than getting lost in ducts along the way. Be careful when using space heaters. Keep them on a level, hard surface and keep anything inflammable like clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away. It should be turned off or unplugged when you leave the room.
These changes may seem trivial but, you will be amazed at the collective effect they can have on your heating costs. There are many other behavioral changes you can make to erase the price in home heating like keeping your fireplace damper closed when you are not using it, rotating your ceiling fans, and using a humidifier. You will not only be saving dollars but will also reduce energy usage which is great for the environment too.