Tips for saving on your winter heating bill

Tips for saving on your winter heating bill

Take some easy steps to lower your home energy bills. In winter (and summer, too), sealing air leaks and managing your thermostat can pay you back. These tips can help keep your home economically toasty this winter.

Heating

  • Check your furnace filter monthly and replace it when it appears dirty.
  • Lower your thermostat temperature to the lowest temperature that is comfortable to your family. You may save as much as 3 percent on your energy bill for each degree you lower your thermostat. Reduce your thermostat setting at night and when you are away.
  • The “auto” thermostat setting on central heating systems may save you money.
  • If you have a heat pump, keep the outdoor unit clear of grass, leaves and especially drifting snow around the outdoor coil.
  • Never switch a heat pump to the “emergency heat” setting on the thermostat, unless the unit is malfunctioning. This switch will turn off your energy-efficient heat pump. Using only your backup electric or gas furnace without the heat pump could double your heating costs.

Fireplaces

  • Keep your fireplace damper closed when not in use.
  • Consider installing doors over the fireplace opening to reduce drafts and heat loss through the chimney.
  • Do not use a fireplace during extreme cold. Most fireplaces that are open to the living space will increase winter heating costs.

Around the house

  • Air infiltration can account for one-half of your heating costs in a leaky home. Seal air leaks with caulking, weatherstripping and sheets of plastic on large areas.
  • Close and seal heat registers that attempt to heat a cold, uninsulated garage, porch or attic storage room.
  • Have a professional verify proper insulation levels in walls and ceilings and check to be sure they meet standards or have not been damaged.
  • Keep windows and doors located near your thermostat closed tightly.
  • Keep heat sources such as lamps away from the thermostat.
  • Keep draperies and shades open on sunny days but close them on cloudy days and at night.
  • Keep all heating outlets and return-air grills free from obstructions, such as draperies, furniture and rugs. Clean vents regularly with a vacuum or broom.

Attics and crawl spaces

  • If you have ductwork in the attic or garage, be sure it is covered with at least 6 inches of insulation. Seal seams and joints in ductwork with duct sealing compound.
  • If your home has a crawl space with air vents in the walls, close the vents and seal with insulation from the inside during the winter.
  • Insulate basement and crawl space walls. If your basement or crawl space is a cold, unoccupied area, then the floor between the cold area and the living space should also be insulated.

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