Does your energy bill get more expensive each winter? Here are some simple things you can do to lower your heating bill without sacrificing your comfort.
Follow one or two tips, and you’ll see some slight savings. For a significant drop in your monthly energy bill, do all of these things together consistently.
Easy Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill
Locate and Seal Leaks
The US Department of Energy estimates that up to 30 percent of a heating bill is due to air leaking through gaps. This loss increases if your home’s foundation begins shifting or settling.
Here’s an easy way to identify leaks:
- Light a stick of incense or tapered candle.
- Turn on your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans.
- Run the stick around doors and windows. Wherever the smoke or flame wavers, it’s a sign that the fan is pulling air into your house.
- Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal those gaps.
Use Residual Heating to Reduce Your Bill
Some home appliances generate heat — like clothes dryers, dishwashers, and ovens. That heat lingers after you’ve turned them off, and you can use it to warm your home. It’s as easy as leaving the appliance door open for a few minutes after use.
Use the heat from showers and hot baths, too. When you’re finished bathing, leave the bathroom door and let the hot, steamy air out. It will help your home feel warmer, too. (Related: How to Improve Indoor Humidity.)
Air Dry Clothes Indoors
Air drying clothing indoors raises your home’s humidity levels, and humid air feels warmer than dry air at the same temperature. You can install a retractable clothesline that disappears when not in use or hang clothes on a drying rack. Humidifying your air this way also helps stop those annoying static shocks. (Related: How to Stop Static Electricity in Your Home.)
Open Curtains in the Morning
Opening your curtains and blinds on sunny winter days provides natural light and can warm your home, too. The best time to do this is from 9 am to 3 pm, especially with south-facing windows. Turn your thermostat down a couple of degrees at the same time to further lower your electric bill. Close your curtains before sunset to keep the warm air indoors.
Newer Furnace? Leave Vents OPEN
With older furnaces, closing unused rooms and shutting off their air vents lowers heating costs because the system has less work to do. The advice is different for newer furnaces. Newer, energy-efficient systems need unrestricted airflow to remain balanced. Shutting off a room’s vents will force your furnace to work harder, and possibly cause a breakdown.
Have Your Furnace Serviced Annually
Even new systems need regular inspection and maintenance. Annual service involves cleaning and lubricating the system and its parts, inspecting for leaks in the ducts, and ensuring there are no carbon monoxide issues. Appointments run roughly $60-80. Or, if you’re handy, follow this DIY furnace-cleaning tutorial.
Program your Thermostat
According to the Department of Energy, turning your thermostat down 7-8° per day will reduce your heating bill by 10% per year. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget about turning it down when you leave for work or go to bed. That’s where a programmable thermostat helps. Set it for a lower temperature on workdays and also at night to money.
Use Your Fireplace Properly
When you think of ways to reduce your heating bill, you might consider using your fireplace more often. Surprisingly, though, fireplaces are energy inefficient. During use, up to 90% of the fire’s heat escapes through the chimney. A wood fire also pulls warm air out of your home to fuel the combustion. Before lighting a fire, lower your thermostat and close doors to the room where your fireplace is located to prevent heat loss in the rest of your house.
Shut Your Chimney Damper After Use
Fireplaces have a flap called a damper that closes the chimney flue. The damper must be open when you’re using the fireplace to allow carbon monoxide and smoke to escape. When you’re not burning a fire, shut the damper and any glass doors. Leaving these open when there’s no fire burning lets heat escape from your home.
Don’t Sit Near Drafty Windows
Feeling chilly while watching TV or reading makes you want to turn up the heat. There’s an easy solution that will also help lower your heating bill: rearrange your living room furniture. Just be sure you don’t block your system’s heating vents or cold air returns.
- Keep sofas, chairs, and beds away from drafty windows and exterior doors.
- Set out cozy throw blankets, so family members reach for them rather than turning up the heat.
- Put thick area rugs under seating arrangements and beds to help keep everyone’s feet warm.
- Move bookcases to exterior walls for additional insulation.
Remember, the more you pay attention to reducing your energy use and passive heat loss, the lower your heating bill will be.