By: Timothy K. Lyden Jr.
Cost of heating oil, natural gas and fuel in general keep steadily rising, but there are many things you can do to cut your costs this winter.
As a homeowner I’m continuously trying to save on home heating and electric bills. It seems that the cost each year goes up! Up! UP! I find myself running around saying to the family “turn off the lights, stop running the hot water or shut the door” hundreds of times. I even admit to turning the thermostat down to 62 deg. after my wife falls asleep in order to conserve fuel. It seems there is no end to the constant effort to try to save energy.
Wait! There is good news, According to The Energy Information Administration, their forecasts show that the average household heating fuel expenditures this winter will decrease to $928 per household, down from $947 last year. This is the first price drop since the winter of 2001-2002.
Although, that $19 savings per year is ok? I will still do what I can at home and for my clients to save even more.
As an Electrician, Construction Supervisor and Home Builder I have spent years thinking about the homes energy efficiency. I can say that if you’re a bit handy and are willing, there are many things you can still do to cut cost around the home.
So I would like to share with you more than a dozen simple steps you can take to cut your home’s heating bill. Some ways cost nothing and some as little as $100. Combine them, and you can often expect to save 20% — and possibly much, much more — on your home heating bill this winter. I also found some new federal tax breaks to sweeten the opportunity.
Here are some no-cost things you can do. These strategies work well:
- Loose Hardware. If the doors and windows on your home are loose or missing parts then the unit is not working properly and may cause heat loss. Tighten all hinges, doorknobs and locking mechanisms.
- Don’t over run exhaust fans. According to the Department of Energy, in just one hour a hard-working bathroom or kitchen fan can expel a houseful of warm air. Turn them off as soon as your done using them.
- Close the fireplace damper. Heat rises, and an open damper acts like a hole in the roof. Also, limit use of the fireplace, since fires actually suck heat from a room. Close off seldom-used rooms. And shut the vents inside them.
- Turn the thermostat down. The rule of thumb is that you can save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat. This is based on a thermostat that is lowered for 16 hours a day. Turn down the thermostat 10 degrees when you go to work, and again when you go to bed and you can save about 14% on your heating bill.
- Turn down the water heater. Lowering the temperature of water in the water heater to 115-120 degrees reduces power use often without a noticeable difference to the user. Take your shower and when done don’t linger, get out. The less the water tank heats up more savings in your pocket.
- Remove items blocking heat ducts. Ducts blocked by rugs and furniture prevent heated air from circulating efficiently. If you have kids like I do, check daily to make sure the ducts aren’t blocked.
- Hang curtains. Using the free power of the Sun by opening curtains and shades on south-facing windows during the day allows solar radiation to warm a living space; closing all curtains at night helps block the escape of that heat.
There are so many sites on this topic but I found the best solutions on the web site run by the US Department of Energy.
So now that we have put the low cost free fixes into effect its its time to get tough. Were going to the hardware store and spending a Saturday tackling our heat loss. We need a few things so get out a pencil and paper and we will make a small list before we go.