Saving on Your Heating Bill

by Justin Ripley

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With gas, heating fuel, and electric prices rising more and more every day, many people are finding that the cost of heating their homes is reaching astronomical proportions. Unlike other monthly expenses that can be cut out of a person's budget, home heating expenses are not an area where we have much choice. We have to heat our homes during the cold winter months just in order to survive. It's a simple as that.

Despite the fact that this is an expense we can not remove from our budgets, there are a number of things that can be done to trim those heating costs throughout the winter. Many articles point to expensive remedies, such as installing energy efficient windows or installing new insulation. While these solutions work, it can take years to realize the savings in lower heating costs. Conversely, most of these ten tips are cheap, easy, and quick to implement. I hope they will save you some money while keeping you warm throughout those cold winter months!

  • Install a "smart" thermostat. While it may cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 to purchase a programmable thermostat, it should pay for itself within a year. Personally, I bought a 7-day programmable thermostat as soon as I moved into my new house and I love it. It was relatively easy to install myself and now the temperature in my home fluctuates throughout the day per my plan. The heat drops down to 62 during the day when I'm not home (why keep the place warm when nobody is home!) then charges back up to 70 degrees shortly before I get back from work. At bedtime, it drops down to 62 again, and then it heads back up to 70 shortly before I need to get out of bed in the morning. It's great!
  • Throw some extra blankets on the bed. Following the thought from above, I sleep in a relatively cold environment. I find it to be better for my lungs, and frankly, once you're nestled under a bunch of warm blankets, it's quite enjoyable. Not heating the house to 70 degrees throughout the night will save a bunch of money on those heating bills.
  • Consider buying a humidifier. Moist air feels warmer than dry air, and it's better for your skin and lungs, too.
  • Wear wool socks in the house. The floors in your house get cold in the winter as heat rises and colder air moves down. Cold feet make cold people. Wool socks are cheap, comfortable, and will keep you and your feet warm.
  • Wear a sweater. Like the socks, this is a cheap and easy way to stay warm throughout the winter and allows you to set the thermostat at a lower temperature. I've noticed that in today's modern world people seem to think they should be able to wear shorts and t-shirts in their homes throughout the winter. This is fine if you want to pay for it. I'll take a lesson from my ancestors and just bundle up a little bit.
  • Let the light in. Be sure to open the window shades and blinds during the day. Sunlight coming in will act as passive solar heat and can make a significant difference in the temperature of your home.
  • Turn the ceiling fans on. This one may sound a little crazy, but it works. Most ceiling fans have a switch on them that allows them to run in reverse. By running the fan in reverse at a low speed, it will actually help circulate warm air throughout the house.
  • Seal the leaks. At the beginning of winter, go around your home and seal up any potential air leaks with caulk or weather stripping. Most of the heat that leaves your home escapes through cracks around the windows and doors. To the extent possible, seal these up!
  • Service your furnace. A dirty furnace is not efficient and will cost more money to run than a furnace that receives annual cleaning from a professional. In addition to periodic servicing, be sure to replace those air filters.
  • Cook a big Sunday roast. Growing up in Maine, my Mom always cooked a Sunday roast. Pork or beef with carrots, potatoes, gravy, and all the other good stuff. It was a great tradition to bring the family together at least one day a week, and of course, the food was great, too. Coming from a frugal ilk, there was another reason she did it. Cooking a roast meant having the oven on for a few hours, and all that heat definitely escapes into the house. It doesn't cost much to run the oven, and it's also a nice way to spend a quiet Sunday in the winter with family.

I hope these simple tips prove useful and help you save some of your hard-earned cash this winter!

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