Sure, heating bills vary between households, but this winter is expected to be hard on family budgets as temperatures have been much colder than last winter in parts of the U.S.
Because of this cold weather, the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted in January that it "expects households heating primarily with natural gas to spend $116 (22 percent) more this winter compared with last winter."
There’s plenty of talk about ways to be more “green,” but when it comes down to it, many of us just want to know how we can save some of our hard-earned money.
If you're wondering what’s needlessly driving up your heating bill and what you can do to reduce those drains on your wallet, here are a few culprits to consider -- and fixes for them:
A neglected heating system
If you want your car to run efficiently, you take it in for regular oil changes and tune-ups. The same should go for your furnace. But many of us take for granted that, as long as it’s still pumping out the heat, it’s doing OK. The folks at This Old House say, “soot buildup, dusty or poorly lubricated fans, flickering pilot lights, and loose fan belts can add hundreds to your heating costs each year.” Get a tune-up once every two or three years, and it will save you money.
Furniture blocking registers
While your couch may be in just the right spot and your curtains hang just the right way, they may be costing you money. Consumers Energy suggests moving any furniture, curtains or carpeting away from your heat vents and air return ducts.
It’s likely your house has spouted many leaks over the years. Air could be escaping through spaces around doors and windows, chimneys, holes in exterior walls and ductwork. Most of these can be easily sealed and plugged with simple fixes, such as putting in new weather stripping, door thresholds, caulking or foam sealant, according to Popular Mechanics.
Ignoring the 'power' of fans or small heating units
You may use ceiling fans during the summer to keep rooms cooler. Did you know you can also use them in winter to circulate warm air coming in from the furnace? Set your fans at the lowest speed and reverse direction to move the heated air around the room, DTE Energy says. Rather than turning up your furnace to get heat into a specific area winthin a room, use a smaller appliance to warm up a small space, like a bathroom or breakfast nook.
Windows let light stream into our homes, making them bright and pleasant, and they allow fresh air to come in during the most temperate seasons of the year. Unfortunately, they easily let in cold air in winter when we’re trying to stay toasty warm. Possible fixes are to put film coatings on windows for better efficiency, improve weather stripping or add window coverings, like curtains or shades, to keep the cold out and let the furnace do its work more effectively.
However, new windows can do a world of good and make a big difference in how much you spend for energy over the longer haul.
“New, energy-efficient windows eventually pay for themselves through lower heating and cooling costs, and sometimes even lighting costs," according to energy.gov. "When properly selected and installed, energy-efficient windows can help minimize your heating, cooling, and lighting costs.”
If your home has old windows, getting replacement windows that are up to the latest energy standards is a good investment that can reduce your monthly budget and even be a talking point when it’s time to sell your home. Try a company like Wallside Windows, which measures and custom builds all its windows, making them perfect fits for every home (and reducing the chance of leaks). Their 35-year guarantee stays in effect even if you sell your house, benefiting future buyers, as well.
In addition to the money you save when heating a home with newer, energy-efficient windows, our local utility companies offer rebates for consumers who make their homes more efficient. Those rebate checks help you earn even more savings above and beyond what you’ll save on those monthly heating bills.
Take some time to make a few changes, and you’ll see a welcome difference in your heating bill.
Wallside Windows can help you save money on your heating bills with new, energy-efficient windows. Fill out your information below if you’d like to learn more.