Are you hemorrhaging heat from your house? Don’t throw money out the window! You don’t need to be handy or spend a lot to drastically cut your power bill. Check out these quick and easy ways to save energy on home heating. No special skills required, I promise!
My family saves of hundreds of dollars on energy each winter with these simple tips. This is our 16th winter in our 100-year old house, so since we moved here, we’ve saved thousands of dollars by not wasting energy. What did we do with that extra cash? Invested it in energy- and money-saving upgrades, like insulation, geothermal, and home solar power. Those upgrades are paying for themselves and will mean more money in our pockets for things like college tuition, retirement, and travel. Better for the planet and for quality of life!
Don’t throw your money away heating the great outdoors! Get energy-savvy with these tools & tricks.
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How to Save Energy: Stop the Leaks
Your house is letting heat out through all sorts of big and small openings, many of which you can seal up with virtually no skill.
Put plastic over leaky or single pane windows to prevent one of the biggest sources of heat loss. One of these simple window sealing kits does the trick. Put some rope caulk anywhere you have gaps, like along the place where two sashes meet.
Add some thermal curtains to put more insulation between you and the winter weather outside. They’re like blankets for your windows, and the dark colored ones serve double duty as blackout curtains to help you sleep better at night.
Your electrical outlets are a surprising source of heat loss, up to 20% according to some experts. All you need is a screwdriver to add these inexpensive outlet sealers. Heat can even escape through the places where you plug things in, which I found out when we did a blower-door test during our energy audit. You could feel the breeze from those tiny holes! These simple kid-proofing plastic covers keep heat from escaping through outlets.
How to Save Energy: Use Heat Wisely
Every 3 degrees you can lower your thermostat will cut 10% from your heating bill. If you’re currently leaving your thermostat at 72, lowering it to 66 can cut your bill by 20%! That’s hundreds more dollars in your pocket each season.
If 66 sounds cold to you, don’t worry. Some simple shifts in your daily habits can make this pretty comfortable, and when no one’s home or everyone’s snug in their beds, you can turn it down even lower. Your body will also adjust to the lower temps, and it may even help your metabolism. Your body will be using some extra calories to keep you warm.
Heat where you need it most. If you’re curled up watching a movie, keep the heat in rest of the house down and turn on an efficient space heater. They cost just pennies an hour to run. Cuddle under a cozy blanket, and enjoy the show.
Dress for a cooler house. Thin cotton shirts and pants pretty much guarantee you’ll have the heat up higher. In warm wool sweaters and pants with a little insulation, you’ll be comfortable with the thermostat set far lower.
Cooler temps at night actually help you sleep better. Make sure everyone has cozy jammies and a warm duvet, and turn that heat down!
A programmable thermostat can help you have the heat on when you need it and off when you’re out or asleep. Experts estimate that people could lower their energy use by 15% if they properly programmed one of these inexpensive thermostats.
Extra money-saving tip: Check with your utility to see if they have a program to help you find and seal leaks. Some of them will give you a programmable thermostat for free and install it for you as part of an inexpensive energy audit that will pay for itself many times over.
How to Save Energy: Plan for Upgrades
If upgrades in your budget:
Start with insulation. Improving your insulation should pay for itself quite quickly. You can blow in insulation from inside or out. I’ve done a lot of research on insulation. Here’s my magnum opus on insulating choices if you’re wondering what type to get.
When it’s time to replace your furnace, choose a high-efficiency model. Better yet, investigate geothermal, which heats and cools your house at a fraction of the cost of conventional systems. The federal rebate has gone away, but here’s a rundown of why geothermal might still be a good investment. If your climate isn’t too severe, an air-source heat pump is also a good option, providing heating and cooling with far less energy and cost than conventional heating and cooling systems. Contact local HVAC companies to find out what your options are.
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Photo credits: jill111, Finmiki