Here it comes. The annual rise in winter heating costs is right around the corner. Thankfully, the bill won’t hurt more this year, but implementing certain tips can certainly make it hurt much less.
The Energy Information Administration forecasts that the average household heating fuel expenditures this winter will decrease to $928 per household, down from $947 last year. This is the first time we have had any sort of price drop since the winter of 2001-2002.
Do you want to save more than the projected $19?
John Ryan, team leader for commercial buildings for the Building Technologies Program in the Department of Energy says “There’s a lot of things that the entrepreneurial homeowner can do, if he’s a little bit handy.”
Here are a dozen simple steps one can take to slash your home’s heating bill. Six steps cost nothing to the homeowner. Eight steps cost under $100. If combined, expect to save up to 20% on your home energy bill.
The Freebies They may sound simplistic, but these tips go a long way in helping to lower your monthly heating bill.
- Turn down the thermostat. 10 degrees when you go to work, and again when you go to bed (16 hrs) and you can save up to 14% on your heating bill.
- Use fans wisely. Turn them off as soon as they’ve done their job.
- Keep the fireplace damper closed.
- 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.
- Keep heating vents clear. Vents blocked by rugs and furniture prevent heated air from circulating efficiently.
- Use curtains. Closing all curtains at night helps block the escape of that heat.
A couple dollars go a long way
- Winterize windows. Put plastic film on those windows ($6). It will curb drafts and keep windows from rattling.
- Swaddle water heater and pipes. Some newer water heaters already have a built-in insulation. However, covering your older water heater with an insulated “jacket” will keep costs down. This will run you no more that $17-$20. Also, wrap water pipes when possible, especially when they run through uninsulated areas.
- Low-Flow Shower Head. Water-efficient shower heads can end up using 25% to 50% less hot water, saving both on water and power bills. Usually costs under $20.
- Smart Thermostat. Do you usually forget to program your thermostat at night or before you go to work? A “smart” thermostat can be set to change the temperature for you. It functions just like programming a television and typically runs the user $50-$100.
- Keep your furnace in shape. Oil-fired boilers should be cleaned and tuned annually, and gas systems, every two years. This typically runs the homeowner around $100. By maintaining your heating unit, you can save between 3% and 10% on heating bills.
- Insulation! Insulation! Insulation!. Well-placed insulation, especially in the attic of older homes, can save a bundle.
By implementing all of the aforementioned strategies and signing up with an Energy Service Provider (ESCO), the homeowner can likely save much more than 20% on heating bills.