Keep Heating Bill Low with These Tips

snowflakeThe cold weather is moving in, and winter is getting close! I was looking up some resources for how to save money on heating this winter, and thought this WSJ article was helpful:

7 Tips to Cut Steep Heating Costs This Winter, by Jennifer Waters.

A few highlights:

- The price of crude oil is largely to blame for an anticipated climb in heating bills.

- The average increase of natural gas is estimated at 3%, or about $19.

- Most homeowners can expect to pay about $2,493 – up from last year’s $2,300.

According to the article:

“Using what the Energy Department calls the “whole-house approach” will cut your energy use from 20% to 50%.”

To read the full article on the WSJ website, follow this link.

Here are the seven tips from the article that will help you cut your heating costs this winter:

  1. Do an energy audit. There are plenty of companies willing to do it for you, for a price, but it’s likely your local energy provider will do it for free. You can, however, do it yourself by following the home energy assessments guide. See the guide on the Energy Department’s Energy Saver website.
  2. Insulate your home. It seems like a no-brainer, but only 20% of homes built before 1980 are well-insulated, according to the Energy Dept. You might not want to start tearing down walls to do it, but adding insulation in raw attics and basements is a good start.
  3. Set your thermostat for as low as you, and your kids, can stand it, and stock up on sweatshirts, socks and blankets. ConEdison, New York City’s electric company, suggests setting your thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. “Turning the thermostat back 10% to 15% eight hours a day can trim seasonal heating costs up to 10%,” the company said. A programmable thermostat can do all the heavy lifting for you.
  4. Find the leaks and then plug them, especially around windows and doors. You can use a weather strip and/or caulk. Removable caulk on windows will keep them sealed in the winter but allow you to open them in summer. And don’t be afraid, or embarrassed, to use plastic on windows and doors that don’t get used in the winter.
  5. Replace filters on furnaces at least once a month when they’re in full use. Keep the registers, baseboard heaters and radiators clean and make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, drapes or — a family favorite — clothes.
  6. Open draperies and shades on west- and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight in and close them at night to keep the cold out.
  7. Remove window air conditioners. If you can’t do that, wrap them up in plastic.

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Jennifer Waters is a MarketWatch reporter, based in Chicago.

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