Heating costs are on the rise and experts anticipate we’ll be spending more to keep our homes warm in the coming months. According to the US Energy Information Administration, households that use heating oil can expect a 40% cost increase while natural gas users will see a 30% rise and propane users can expect a jump by as much as 54%.
With the cost of just about everything climbing due to inflation, many people are wondering what they can do this winter to heat their homes without breaking their budgets. There are many energy-efficient improvements you can make yourself with some simple supplies from a local hardware store.
Here are some things you can do right now to reduce your energy usage, save money, and stay warm in the months ahead.
- Seal Air Leaks – Check your walls, windows, ceilings, doors, light fixtures, outlets and switches for any escaping air and seal them up. You may need add or replace weather stripping, caulking and insulation to fill holes and gaps. Be sure to close dampers on unused fireplaces and take air conditioners out of windows during the colder months.
- Lower the Temperature – Turning down the thermostat can help save on home energy use. Even a few degrees can make a difference. The Department of Energy estimates you can save up to 10 percent a year on heating by lowering your thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit from its normal setting for eight hours a day. You can save even if you are working from home. The Energy Department recommends keeping the temperature at 68 degrees during the day and lowering it at night.
- Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat – A programable or smart thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature of your home for you, so you don’t have to remember to when you go to bed or leave the house. Just set it and forget it.
- Service Your Heating System – Regular cleaning and service of your heating system will help it work more efficiently requiring less fuel. If you have a forced-air heating system, you’ll want to change or clean the filters regularly to help your furnace work at its best.
- Let the Sun Shine In – Let the sunlight warm up your home during the day by opening curtains and blinds on your south-facing windows. Be sure to close them at night to reduce the incoming cold from any drafty windows.
- Add Insulation – Insulation will help keep the heat from escaping your house and save you money. Attics, basements, and crawl spaces are the first places to check to see if you have sufficient insulation.
- Use Ceiling Fans -- If you have ceiling fans in any of the rooms in your home, you can use them during the colder months of the year to help distribute warm air and lower your heating bill. Reverse the fans so that the blades turn clockwise during the winter pushing warm air down.
- Use Appliances Efficiently – Wait to run the dishwasher or washing machine until there is a full load to reduce the use of hot water. Lowering the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit is another way to save.
- Improve the Air Flow in Your Home – Be sure to remove dust from your baseboards and other heating registers help them work more efficiently. Also, move furniture away from the space around any heating sources to allow warm air to flow freely.
- Bundle Up – A warm sweater, slippers, a fire in the wood stove and pot of soup on the stove are all great ways to take the chill off this winter.
- Reach Out for Help – Your local town or community may offer fuel assistance programs to help cover heating and energy costs for households in need. Check to see if you are eligible.
Town & Country’s Heating Fuel Loan may be a helpful solution to help get you through this winter. For more information about the fuel loan, budgeting, and other money questions you may have, schedule an appointment here to speak with a Town & Country representative.