15 Money Saving Tips to Reduce Your Energy Bill This Winter
The average U.S. household pays an average annual cost of $992 a year in natural gas bills. That’s a lot of money. So how do we keep that heat inside our homes instead of losing it to leaks and inefficiency? The team at Lancaster put together these 15 tips to help you save energy this winter. See which ones will be easiest to incorporate into your lifestyle:
- Bundle Up – Don’t change the thermostat if you’re feeling chilly, change your wardrobe. If you feel chilly at home, put on a sweater or jacket and cover your feet with socks or slippers.
- Use Your Programmable Thermostat Wisely – Many homes have programmable thermostats, but are they being used to their maximum efficiency? The Department of Energy says lowering your thermostat at least 3-4 degrees for eight hours a day can save you 5 percent to 10 percent off your heating bill. It’s easy to program the thermostat to drop at night when everyone is tucked snugly into bed. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, you can do this manually, but it’s a lot harder to remember to do every day.
- Make Sure Registers Are Clear – Don’t let furniture, rugs or drapery block your registers. That’s like having your registers partially open. This wastes heat and makes your furnace work harder.
- Don’t Run Exhaust Fans Any Longer Than Necessary – If you run kitchen or bathroom fans, make sure to turn them off as soon as possible. Not only do they remove steam and odors, they take heat with it.
- Lock Doors and Windows – Even when doors and windows are closed, they might not be pressed tight against the weatherstripping. Lock them to make sure the seal is tight and warm air cannot escape.
- Make Sure Windows and Doors Are Sealed – Add caulk or weather stripping to doors or windows to seal small cracks where heat can escape. Adjust door thresholds if you can see any daylight under your doors. Most thresholds have screws that can be adjusted. Turn the screws counterclockwise to bring the threshold up. If the door drags on the threshold, lower it just a bit.
- Don’t Waste Heat That You Created – We’re talking about heat from the oven or even the shower. Don’t keep these trapped inside the appliance or the room. Open the doors and let that extra heat (and moisture) infiltrate the rest of the house.
- Check Furnace Filters – Regular maintenance will help your furnace run more efficiently. Remember to check the filters in your heating system and make sure they’re clean and clear. Dirty filters lead to higher heating costs.
- Let Sunlight in during the Daytime – Let any sunlight in during the day as solar gain will add heat as well as light. Your furnace won’t have to work as hard.
- Cover Windows after Dark – Reduce heat lost by keeping cold air outside. Curtains and blinds act as another layer between your home and the cold temperatures outside.
- Don’t Forget about Outlets – Electrical outlets in your wall allow air to escape around them. Fill small gaps around the electrical boxes with caulk. For large gaps, use expandable foam sealant. You can also place a foam gasket over the outlet or switch before you replace the cover. It may seem like a small gesture, but those outlets and switches will be there forever.
- Seal around Pipes, Gas, and Electrical Lines – These areas in your exterior walls usually have gaps that let cold air in. Use expanding foam to close the holes. An added bonus is that not only will it keep the cold air out, it will keep mice and bugs out too.
- Seal and Insulate the Attic Door – This is one place most homeowners don’t even think about, but warm air will escape easily through an attic door that is not insulated. Make sure your door forms a good seal when it is closed and add weather stripping if it doesn’t. Also, attach fiberglass insulation to the back of the door. This is a place that is typically skipped when attic insulation is installed.
- Seal Your Ductwork – Your ducts carry heated air through a long system of metal tubes. Don’t let that air escape into unheated areas like the basement. A typical home can lose 20 – 30% of the air in the system due to holes, leaks, and poor connections. Check your ductwork and seal it with metal tape. (Believe it or not, duct tape is not the best tape for this job.)
- Consider a Furnace Tune-Up – A tune-up is a great idea. Not only will it protect your family from carbon monoxide leaks, but it will ensure your furnace is running at peak efficiency saving you money on heating bills.