Times are tight and cold winter weather can really eat into your monthly budget. Every little bit of savings counts and can be used toward your other essential expenses, including your homeowners insurance. Here are some commonsense winter home heating savings tips.
Warm air rises. Make sure you’re not sending it through the roof. Proper insulation in your attic can reduce heat loss by as much as 50%. Insulation is relatively inexpensive and a fairly easy do-it-yourself job. You may even qualify for tax credits or discounts from your local utility. If you only do one job, do this one.
Improperly sealed windows and doors are another big heat suck. Invest in storm windows if you live in a part of the country with heavy winters. Foam insulation strips around the perimeters of exterior doors and windows are an inexpensive solution in more moderate climates. Thermal curtains also help contain heat. There are also insulated draft-stoppers you can place at the bottom of doors to block cold air. All these will result in winter home heating savings.
Check around your home for vent and pipe outlets where heat can escape and stop up any gaps with spray foam insulation.
Don’t wait till the first cold snap or winter storm to have your heating system checked. Get in ahead of the crowd. Poorly maintained heating systems are among the leading causes of big energy bills. Keep yours in good repair and have it cleaned every couple of years. Not only will this yield winter home heating savings, but keeping maintenance records will help support your homeowners insurance claim if the system fails. (A typical homeowners’ policy won’t pay to replace a system that fails because of owner negligence.) Change or clean your furnace filters frequently, too. This will increase the efficiency of your heating system.
The same early-bird advice holds if you have a fireplace. Call a licensed chimney sweep before you light that first fire. If you use your fireplace frequently, an annual cleaning that includes checking the integrity of the system is a good idea.
Close off doors to rooms that aren’t used frequently. There’s no point in heating an empty room. Reverse your ceiling fans to circulate heated air back down into the room.
Turn down the thermostat, especially when no one is at home and while you’re sleeping. If your system supports it, use a timer to bring the temperature up a half hour before you get home or get up. Instead of cranking up the heat, put on a sweater, wear slippers and use a blanket or throw to stay warm while you’re watching TV.
Finally, a word about safety. Never use a stove or charcoal grill to heat a home. If you use portable heaters, get the kind that shut off if they’re tipped over.