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Tips for lowering heating costs

By Matt Williamson
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Energy costs are up - keep yours under control this winter
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Lowering Heating Costs

With the rising cost of oil and other heating measures, lowering heating costs is a must for families across the country. Here are a few tips to help you and your family stay warm this winter while keeping a few more pennies in your pockets.

  1. Turn down the temperature This one may seem obvious, but it is the most effective way to lower your winter heating bill. Put simply, the easiest way to pay less for heat is to use less heat. Did you know that for each lowered degree you'll save one to three percent on your heating bill? That can add up quickly!

    Forget wearing t-shirts in the house this winter. Lower your thermostat and wear sweaters and warm socks. At night, turn the thermostat down even more and give every member of the family an extra blanket. Don't forget to adjust the thermostat yet again if you go away for the weekend.

  2. Install a timer on your heater Consider investing in an automated thermostat that can be programmed to adjust the heat at designated times throughout the day and refrain from turning the heat up drastically when it feels cold in the house. This makes the furnace work harder, which in turn costs you more money.

  3. Watch the use of vent fans Use bathroom and kitchen fans less often. These types of fans pull warm air out of the house and allow cooler air in.

  4. Apply caulking and weather stripping These inexpensive additions to your home can save you between five and 30 percent on your heating costs. Go around your house and check for drafts, cracks and gaps. Areas such as windows, doors and electrical outlets are particularly susceptible.

  5. Have your heating system checked annually Making sure that your heating unit is working efficiently can save you up to 10 percent a year. You can quickly save the cost of the inspection in lower energy bills.

  6. Check your insulation Make sure the insulation in your home is adequate and be sure to seal water pipes and warm air ducts. Your local county extension office or home store should have a chart of recommended insulation R-values for your climate. Buy the extra insulation now and save all winter long.

  7. Close off unused areas of the home Heating the attic nobody goes in is costly and unnecessary. If your heating system has vents, close them off in rooms you seldom use. Note…don't do this in the room or area where your thermostat, furnace, or water heater is located – it will actually cost you more money in the long run.

  • Upgrade your windows When economically able, replace single paned windows with thermal storm windows and doors. The savings from new windows can usually be recouped in a year or two, and will continue to lower your bills for years to come.

  • Reduce your hot water temperature. Lowering the temperature even a couple of degrees can save you money. Multiple your savings by adding a water heater blanket and water saver shower heads. The heater blanket alone can save you up to $75 to $100 a year

  • Let nature work for you Keep blinds and curtains open on sun-facing windows to allow the sun to heat your home for you. Close the drapes at night to keep the heat inside.
  • Keep your vents clean Dust and vacuum radiators and baseboard heating vents. Buildup hurt your heater's efficiency.

  • Invest in a newer fuel efficient furnace When it's time to replace the furnace, do so with a fuel-efficient model. Look for furnaces that have earned the Energy Star®. These units meet strict energy efficient guidelines set out by the U.S. Department of Energy and use about 10 percent less than the average burner.

  • Spread out your expenses Sign up for a budget plan with your heat provider if possible. While this won't change the amount of money you pay throughout the year, it will reduce the amount you pay each month – making your payments more manageable.

  • Remember to change your filters Replace your furnace filters regularly to allow your system to be more efficient. A clogged filter can cost you hundreds of dollars a year in wasted energy.

  • Keep your kitchen toasty After using the oven, leave the door open as it cools for added heat. Just be sure small children and pets can't touch the hot surfaces.

  • Make your fireplace more efficient If you have a fireplace, install a draft stopper to seal your fireplace. These are inflatable pillows that are inserted into the flue to stop warm air from escaping and cold air from entering. These are also easily inserted and removed so they do not affect the use of the fireplace. Just remember to remove them before you light a fire! Closing the flue when you're not using the fireplace will also keep drafts away.

  • Add a dryer vent seal to the clothes dryer Metal flappers do not effectively seal against air leakage, so add a seal. Make sure you get the right style and type for your venting arrangement.

  • Install a low-flow shower head This will use up to 50 percent less hot water. And if you can, cut three to five minutes off your regular shower time. This simple change goes a long way towards lowering heating costs.

  • Turn your washing machine to cold Today's detergents are made for washing at lower temperatures, so wash clothes in cold water when possible. You'll save money and still enjoy clean laundry.
  • Ask your utility company for help Ask your energy provider about free energy-saving audits. Certain energy-saving devices may be provided and installed free-of-charge. Lower-income families are usually entitled to these installations.

  • Lowering heating costs is easy to do and requires minimal effort. Following these steps will help you save money and keep your family comfortable when the cold weather arrives.

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