Cold means different things to different people. One person’s East Coast record lows is another’s Bay Area chilly wind on the water. One thing that brings us all together is the desire to keep it toasty inside without burning up our wallets. Before you wrap yourself in yet another layer of fleece—and feel fleeced by your gas or electric company—check out these easy ways to lower your heating bill.
1. Turn it down
The Consumer Energy Center recommends setting your thermostat at 68 degrees, but if you really want to save on your heating bill, go lower. “For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs,” they said. When you’re gone, 55 is the magic number, resulting in saving 5-20 percent of your heating costs.”
To make it even easier, change out your thermostat to one with home automation, which you can use to adjust the temperature from your SmartPhone. According to Energy Star, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.
2. Check your water heater
An inefficient water heater or one that is set too high could be contributing to high bills. If you can bear to take showers that aren’t quite as steamy, you can set your water heater to 120 degrees for a savings of “seven to 11 percent of water heating costs,” according to the Consumer Energy Center.
3. Change out your filters
Many people change their filters only when they notice they’re filthy, but, according to Energy Star, they should be changed monthly during high-use periods to cap the amount of energy that’s used. “A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool—wasting energy,” they said. “A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system—leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.”
4. Flip your fan
In the summer, the fan circulates the air, which can make you feel cooler. Flip the switch on the fan the other way in the winter, and the blades go in the other direction, helping to “push warm air that’s risen to the ceiling back down to the floor where you can feel it. The less that’s wasted, the less demand there is on heating systems and the more you save,” said Distractify.
5. Light a fire
Gathering in front of a warm fireplace will help you bear the lower temperature in your home if you have adjusted your thermostat. Plus, it’ll give you a good reasons to snuggle.
6. Harness the sun
On the days when the sun is out, it can help to warm the house—even if the temps are low. “During the day, open the blinds and curtains on the south-facing windows—and let the sun warm you. At night, close the blinds and curtains to better insulate your home,” said The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
7. Seal it up
“Gaps and cracks in windows, doors, roofs and vents cost you money,” said Vault Electricity.
Weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows can reduce or eliminate drafts. Obvious leaks should be easy to find just by placing a hand in front of doors and windows; for a more in-depth check, “a blower door test will pinpoint all the leaks in your home,” they said.
8. Close those vents
Have bedrooms, guest rooms, home offices, or other spaces that you don’t use regularly? Close the vents. This will force more air into the rooms you are using and make the heating system more efficient.
BONUS: And here are a few larger fixes you might want to consider for next year:
Re-insulate areas that are drafty
Spray foam insulation is the favorite choice today among builders thanks to its superior air sealing ability. You might not want to tear open walls just to re-insulate, but if you’re renovating or adding on, swapping those toxic pink strips of fiberglass for spray foam can keep the warm air in and help your heater work more efficiently.
Replace your front door
Installing an insulated front door is another way to improve your energy efficiency.
“Steel and fiberglass doors typically have more insulating value than wood doors,” said Consumer Reports. “Models that are Energy Star-qualified must be independently tested and certified, and often boast tighter-fitting frames, energy-efficient cores, and, for models with glass, double- or triple-panel insulating glass to reduce heat transfer. Another bonus to replacing your front door? According to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value Report, replacing your front door with a steel front door is the home renovation that provides the best ROI at 96 percent.