For people who live in colder climes, winter is a time of year when utility bills can spiral out of control. Between using more electricity to light your home when the daylight wanes, to long, hot baths that stave off the chill, to firing up the furnace to heat your entire home, you’re going to be spending a lot more money throughout the course of the winter months (and that’s not even including holiday expenditures).
However, your largest increase by far will likely come from heating your house. Luckily, this can be amended somewhat by taking precautionary steps and considering alternatives. Take a look at these few simple tips to see if they might help you to keep your home warm and inviting for a lot less cost.
5 Energy Saving Tips
- Check for leaks. Most homes suffer from leaky seals, a major cause of skyrocketing gas bills. In order to ensure that your home is properly sealed, you will likely want to hire a professional to check windows, doors, and other possible problem areas. Of course, you can do this yourself (well, with a friend) by simply having another person stand on one side of windows and doors and shine a flashlight around the edges. If light leaks through, then air is certainly escaping as well. These problem areas can generally be easily treated with caulk or weather stripping from the hardware store. You can also help to insulate windows by putting up heavy curtains.
- Insulate. In case you didn’t know, heat rises. This means that if your ceiling isn’t properly insulated, you’re likely losing a lot of heat off the top of your house. Check in your attic or crawl space to see if rolls of insulation have been laid out. If not, or if they are poor quality, have new insulation installed. It can be a bit expensive (generally about $700-1,000 for professional installation and $100-500 as a DIY project) but over time you should see a return on investment as your utility bill drops. If you choose to tackle this project on your own, just be aware that insulation contains fiberglass, which is dangerous if inhaled, so make sure to use proper safety gear.
- Update thermostats and adjust accordingly. An old or faulty thermostat could be to blame for higher gas bills, so consider installing a new digital thermostat that will more accurately gauge the temperature of your house. The nice thing about newer models is that you can set them on a timer (and you should). For example, if the house is empty all day, there’s no need to blast the heat. Set a minimum temp for daytime when nobody is home, and then have the heat kick on before everyone returns. You can also lower the temperature at night when all are snuggled up under warm blankets.
- Space heaters. If your family spends most of their time in the common areas of your home, consider buying a couple of small space heaters for that area. You can lower the thermostat, close doors to the rest of the house, and heat the space you’re using instead of the places you’re not.
- Extra blankets. There is no better way to lower your heating bill than to bundle up while indoors. Pile down comforters on all the beds and insist that sweaters and rag-wool socks be worn indoors. When the temperature dips into the negative outdoors, 50-60 degrees will feel positively balmy, so set the thermostat low and keep everyone covered to cut costs on your heating bill.