Save Money on Heating this Winter

Winter is coming, but it doesn't have to bring outsized heating bills with it. Take a tour of your home and check out these problem areas; fixing them up could dramatically reduce how much you need to spend to keep the place warm and toasty.

Decorate with LED Lights for the Holidays: Buy new LED holiday lights, which use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than older, incandescent lighting. In addition to consuming less energy, LED lights don't emit as much heat and are more resistant to breakage, making them a safer alternative. Bonus tip: Always unplug your holiday lights before going to bed or leaving the house. As with all appliances and electronics, your holiday lights will continue to draw power even when not in use, which adds unnecessary expense to utility bills.

Use the Sun for Free Heat: That bright orb in the sky should be the focus of temperature control in your residence throughout the year. Open the curtains on your south and west facing windows during winter days to bring free heat into your home. Close your window coverings when the sun goes down to keep the heat inside.

Bundle Up with Warm Accessories: This is one of the easiest ways to save on your heating bill. Instead of turning the heat up, put on a cozy winter sweater and warm socks. Keep throw blankets on your couch, and add an area rug to insulate the floor.

Use Ceiling Fans to Your Advantage: Homes that have better ventilation and airflow can be more energy efficient in the summer and winter months. If you have ceiling fans in your home, you have more control over ventilation than you know. Ceiling fans can be used strategically to achieve better airflow: counter-clockwise will push hot air up in the summer and clockwise will trap heat inside to keep your rooms warmer during cooler months. Turn your ceiling fan on a low setting to gently push hot air back down.

Let Your Thermostat Think for You: Don’t waste money heating an empty home.  Install a programmable thermostat and schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep and turn back up when you are returning home or waking-up. When used strategically, programmable thermostats can save you nearly $180 a year and even more during the winter months (larger homes can expect even bigger savings). If a new thermostat isn’t an option, adjust the thermostat at night. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save about 10% per year on your heating bills by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours. Consider investing in flannel sheets and a warm comforter for your bed and keeping your home cooler when you sleep.

Invest in Insulation: Hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs are lost each year due to escaping heat and cold air in homes without proper insulation. Get some inexpensive insulation from your local home improvement store, and cover up all those areas where heat might escape. Start with foam weather stripping for your doors and windows; it's cheap and is extremely easy to apply.

Plug Leaks and Drafts: Stop throwing money out the window.  Your home loses most of its heat to drafts and air leaks (inside and out). Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors and you can save up to 20 percent on heating costs. Replace worn weatherstripping around doors and windows. If you can see daylight under your front door, then you’re losing the indoor air you’ve paid to heat. Make sure to adjust door threshold so there is no to little light. Also, the door shouldn’t drag on the threshold or it’ll wear out the weatherstripping

Maintain Your HVAC System: Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm and costing you more money. Also, consider getting a winter tune-up.  Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable.

Get a Humidifier to Add Moisture to the Air: The air inside your home can become very dry. Moist air feels warmer and holds heat better, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable when your thermostat is set at a lower temperature. You can also increase the humidity in your apartment with a collection of house plants.

Only Use Exhaust Fans When Necessary: Exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom pull the hot air that rises to the ceiling out of your home. Use exhaust fans sparingly, and shut them off when you are done with them

Tune up the Furnace and Gas Fireplace: The tune-up includes a furnace or fireplace inspection, preventative maintenance, and identifying parts that may need to be repaired or replaced. Our professional plumbers can also find any gas or carbon monoxide leaks to keep your family safe. Some furnace warranties actually require this annual or regular maintenance.