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Heating costs are going up. Tips to keep costs down this winter

Heating costs are going up. Tips to keep costs down this winter

Looking for ways to lower your heating bill? You're far from the only one. Dramatic inflationary pressures mean you’ll have to get creative about staying warm and cozy without breaking the bank. These changes—some big, some small—will save you money in the long run. 

  1. Service your Appliances. Experts recommend paying a professional to inspect your furnace each year. This can cost between $80 and $200, but you'll find out whether anything needs your attention, which could save you from a more costly repair later on.
     
  2. Clean your heating system. A cheap but still effective option is to clean the heating system, including ductwork and filters. Every HVAC system is different, but the filters must be changed periodically for the entire system to function well. Thinner filters need seasonal replacement, but larger systems may be able to go six to nine months without a change. New filters will help your unit will work more efficiently and ultimately last longer. It can also pay to have someone look at your duct work. Fixing leaks in duct work requires a professional but can save hundreds of dollars a year. As much as 30 percent of heated air is lost to leaks in ductwork, so don't delay this important maintenance work.

  3. Seal air leaks. Feel for drafts around pipes, doors, windows, and electrical and cable outlets, says Anne Marie Corbalis, spokesperson for Con Edison. Inexpensive draft blockers and outlet sealers can fix many of these problem areas.  Make sure your window stripping and door stripping are in good condition. You can pay a professional to come in and seal cracks around windows and doors for about $250, or plan to spend a weekend doing it yourself.  You'll also want to make sure your home's overall insulation is working well. If your home was built before 1980, it's more likely to need an upgrade. You'll know you have an insulation problem if snow melts quickly off your roof and creates lots of icicles. According to the EPA, sealing up these cracks can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs.

  4. Cover the windows. The Department of Energy reports that “about 30 percent of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows.” If your windows are old, plan for ordering as it can take weeks and even months to get windows ordered and installed. Thermal curtains or floor-length window coverings can block cold air from seeping through the windows and can stop indoor heat from escaping. If you don’t want to sacrifice light, try Low-E window film to effectively add another layer of insulation. These thin films block heat as it tries to escape through the windows and reflecting it back inside.

  5. Lower the thermostat. According to the Department of Energy, turning down the thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees for up to 8 hours can help you save up to 10 percent on your annual energy bill. Consider turning the heat down to the lowest bearable level at night, while you’re out at work, or when you’re on vacation. Some areas may not allow you to turn it off completely or the pipes could freeze and burst. Invest in a programmable or smart thermostat that can automatically adjust the temperature according to your needs.

  6. Close your fireplace. If you have a real fireplace, don't forget to close the flue and damper when not in use. Aside from inviting pests into your home, they allow hot air to escape and cold air to sneak in. Make sure your chimney is properly sealed.

  7. Use a humidifier. A humidifier might help keep you warm without raising your heating bill quite so dramatically. Moist air feels warmer than dry air, so you can keep your thermostat on a lower setting when you run a humidifier. This will also reduce pesky static electricity along with your heating bill.

  8. Strategically open and close your blinds. Open up during the day to help let sunlight and warmth in and draw the blinds at night to help insulate your home from cooler temps.

  9. Don't block air flow. Make sure nothing is covering the radiators or vents. Air and heat should be able to flow easily and spread throughout the room. Also keep radiators and vents clean and free of debris so they work at full capacity.

  10. See if your provider offers "budget billing". Many utilities offer 'budget billing,' where they look at your past usage and estimate an average cost for you to pay each month. This will help budget monthly costs. Some providers will offer plans based on the time of day when energy is used, with the idea that it's more expensive to use electricity at peak times where there's a lot of demand on the system.

 

 

Subtle habit changes like this can add up to help reduce the overall cost of your energy bill.

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