Thursday, January 09, 2014

12 Money Savings Tips on Winter Heating Costs

The country has experienced some cold harsh weather this winter season and we still have another month and a half to go.  We all got spoiled when some parts of the country temperatures were in the 70's and 80's even until the last week of October. For utility companies specifically the gas company, the winter season begins October 1 and ends March 31. The warm weather decreased expected revenue for gas companies, but they have made up for it this month. I received an email alert two days ago asking residents to conserve electricity on Wednesday from 6am to 9am.

Approximately 52% of all U.S. homes depend on natural gas as their primary heating fuel and will pay more this winter season.  Approximately 6% of all U.S. homes use propane for heating will pay more than last year.  Approximately 7% of U.S. homes depend on heating oil and may pay more this winter. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) consumers will see an increase in heating costs this winter.  In some states consumers have already seen temperatures drop to the 30s in October and November. If heating oil prices keep increasing utility companies will pass the additional costs to consumers by charging higher rates. Here are 12 ways to keep heating costs low this winter season.

  1. Check. Schedule annual checks on your heating system such as your furnace before the winter season begins. It is best to get a checkup during the summer months when business is slow. If you haven’t scheduled one due so now to ensure your heating system works at optimal performance.
  2. Thermostat. Keep heat between 66 and 68 degrees.  Turn heat on during the normal time you would arrive home from work.
  3. Insulate.  Insulate your home, attic, basement, walls, crawl spaces, hot water pipes, ducts, furnace, windows and door to save money on heating and cooling.
  4. Solar window film. Switch your plastic window film to solar window film to help keep you home cooler by reducing utility costs.  The film prevents the sun’s rays from entering your home and reduces the need for air conditioning.  This is most effective in areas where winters are mild. 
  5. Drafts. Cover drafty winds with plastic insulation.  Cover drafty doors with insulation or a throw rug to keep air out. Consider replacing drafty windows for extra savings. Seal any drafts around chimneys, pipes, light fixtures, doors or electrical outlets which can reduce your heating costs by 30%. Hang curtains to seal drafts from windows.
  6. Automate. Install a programmable thermostat. Lower the temperature setting while away from home and during the day.
  7. Water Heater. Buy a home water heater insulator to keep the water hot longer and reduce the amount of gas needed to heat the hot water heater.
  8. Layers. Wear additional clothes during the day to prevent turning up the thermostat.  Open blinds or curtains to let sunlight in during the day to keep the house warm. 
  9. Use fans. Use ceiling fans and run in the opposite direction to circulate heat.
  10. Cover floors. Carpet floors to retain heat and keep floors warm.
  11. Heating. Buy portable electric heaters and electric blankets to help you stay warm instead of turning the thermostat up.
  12. Inspect. Sign up for a free energy audit with your gas or electric company or city energy office to see if there are ways you can save money on heating costs.

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