If you have felt the pinch with rising gas prices, you’re going to get another one come this winter. It’s going to be an expensive winter keeping your house warm and it’s worth the time to get your house in shape for the coming winter.
According to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, heating a typical home in colder areas of the country with natural gas will cost $1,568 this winter. That is a jump of 64% over last year when the cost was $957.
The first thing you want to do is to call your local utility company to get an energy audit of your house. Many utilities companies offer these for free or at a very low cost. They will come to your house and do a thorough check to find out where the energy leaks are in your house that are causing your energy bill to higher than it needs be. Once you know where your problems are, you are in good shape to take care of them and get that energy bill under control.
If your local utility doesn’t offer a free energy audit, you can do a free virtual energy audit at the government’s Home Energy Saver website which will also allow you compare your heating bill to others in your area.
Here are some other things that you can do at no cost to help reduce your your heating bill:
Turn Down The Thermostat: The basic rule of thumb is that for every degree you turn down your heat, you save 3% in energy costs. Keep the thermostat as low as possible in the winter while still being comfortable. The closer your indoor temperature is to the outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall heating bill will be.
Put On An Extra Layer: There is no reason to walk around your house looking like the Michelin Man during winter, but on the same line there is also no reason to be relaxing in a tank top and shorts. Put on a comfortable extra layer (a thermal undershirt or a nice sweater) while in the house and lowering the thermostat won’t even be noticed.
Close Heating Vents: Search rooms that are rarely used and close the heating vents. Why heat a room that nobody is using? Before closing the vents, however, make sure that there is not a thermostat sensors located in the room. If a sensor is located in a room that you close off, you may actually make your furnace work harder since it’ll indefinitely try to warm a room that you have prevented from being warmed.
Clear Heating Vents: While you want to close heating vents in the rooms you aren’t using, you want to make sure that they are clear in the rooms that you are using. Make sure they haven’t be covered by a rug or furniture so that the heat can circulate freely.
Close Doors: Learn to keep doors closed to rooms that aren’t being used and especially closet doors. There is no reason to heat these spaces if nobody is there.
Close & Open Curtains & Shutters: Open your curtains and shutters wide on south-facing windows. This will let in as much sunshine as possible to help warm the house. Only close them after the sun has gone down. At the same time, close the curtains and shutters on the north side of the house as this will help insulate the house and keep heat from escaping.
Turn Off Ventilating Fans: Only use ventilating fans in the kitchen, bathroom and other areas when actually needed and turn them off immediately once they have served their purpose. Accidentally leaving a ventilating fan on can clear out all the warmed air in your house in about an hour.
Check the Fireplace Flue: Check the seal on your fireplace flue damper and adjust so that it is as tight as possible. A large gap in the flue is the same as having a window partially open in the room and the warmed air will go straight up the chimney.