50 Ways to Save on Heating Bills

Written By Luke Burgess

Posted September 19, 2005

Winter is right around the corner.

Many people I know are winterizing their house before the cold weather hits. I’ve found 50 things you can do to save money on your heating bills this winter.

1. Heat your home with the energy that is cheapest in your area. Some areas have very low gas prices. In other places home heating oil is reasonable. Find out what is the best for you to use.
2. Consider solar power. Energy from solar panels or using solar heat to supplement your normal heating source is cost effective in most parts of the world. The initial cost may seem higher, but over the long run it costs the least and many energy hungry areas provide generous tax rebates for installing solar panels.
3. If wood is plentiful where you live, install a wood burning stove.
4. In the spring and fall, turn off the heat unless the temperature outside gets below freezing.
5. Temperature variations near the thermostat will affect the whole house. Be sure your thermostat is located in an area that is not too cold or hot.
6. Install an automatic timer to keep the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night.
7. Wear warm layered clothing indoors during cold weather. Some of the new synthetics are the best for thermal layering. If you live in a cold climate and can comfortably walk around in a tank top and shorts – you’re wasting money!
8. Use storm or thermal windows in colder areas. The layer of air between the windows acts as insulation and helps keep the heat inside where you want it.
9. Don’t just concentrate on the windows. Install storm doors before the cold weather arrives.
10. Open up those draperies and shades in winter to let in the heat from the sunshine.
11. Keep shade trees from blocking the suns rays into your house. Prune any branches that block the sunlight.
12. If you’ve installed awning to block the sun in the summer make sure you take them off before the cold weather hits. You want the energy provided by sun-exposed windows during winter months. Take full advantage of those warming rays on your windows.
13. Keep windows closed during cold weather.
14. Check to see that glass in all windows have fresh putty. If the putty in your windows is dry and cracked you may want to consider adding some newer sealant. Also seal any visible cracks with weather-stripping or cloth – newspapers will do if you’re desperate. Some folks just staple a sheet of clear plastic tarp over very old windows for the winter.
15. Repair all cracks and holes, large or small, in your roof, walls, doors and windows. Make sure you seal off anywhere that heat might escape.
16. You may be able to cut heat loss in half by weather-stripping doors and windows. Don’t forget the weather-stripping on your attic and basement doors to prevent heat from escaping.
17. In colder areas move furniture away from any exterior walls. Putting some space between you and the cold walls makes the house seem warmer and leaving room for the air to move around actually makes it warmer.
18. Think about upgrading the insulation in your home. If you haven’t already, insulate your attic and all outside walls.
19. Insulate floors over unheated spaces such as your basement, any crawl spaces and your garage. You actually lose more heat through poorly insulated floor spaces and basements in the average house than through drafty doors and windows. The savings here could be as high as $500 a year!
20. Close off the attic, garage, basement, spare bedrooms and storage areas. Heat only those rooms that you use.
21. When you’re away from home for an extended time, turn off the heat and the hot water heater. Don’t do this for short term absences. It can take more energy to heat up the cold water than you saved.
22. Seal gaps around any pipes, wires, vents or other openings that could transfer your heat to areas that are not heated. While you’re at it caulk those baseboards to keep the heat from seeping out.
23. Wrap heating ducts with duct tape where they may be exposed to cold air. Putting insulation around pipes that need it is also an energy saver.
24. Dust or vacuum all radiator surfaces frequently. Dust is a wonderful insulator and tends to build up on radiators and baseboard heat vents. It keeps the heat from getting into the rooms where you need it.
25. Before you use your furnace for the first time in the cold weather have it serviced. Many gas and oil companies provide this in your service contract or for a small additional fee and it could amount to savings of up to $400.
26. Talk to your gas, oil or electric company to see if you can be put on a level billing contract. This doesn’t really save money, but does help you to budget for the heating season and makes heating bills more affordable.
27. Inspect your furnace during the cold months. Keep parts clean. Replace air filters when necessary. Clean filters can save up to $60 a year on heating costs.
28. Make sure that furnace cold air and warm air registers are not obstructed and vacuum them clean once a month.
29. Turn off your furnace pilot light when heat is not necessary.
30. Check for cracks around fireplace. Keep heat in by caulking all cracks.
31. Keep fireplace damper closed when not in use.
32. Turn off heat when the fireplace is being used.
33. A glass front or glass screen will reduce fireplace heat loss.
34. Check efficiency ratings before purchasing appliances of any kind.
35. An electric blanket is much less expensive than heating your bedroom.
36. Try to cut down on the use of kitchen and bathroom fans in winter. These fans cool the air and waste household heat.
37. Cover pots and pans when heating liquids.
38. Cooking utensils with flat bottoms and tight fitting covers save heat.
39. Be sure pots and pans are right size for range burners and elements.
40. Plan some meals so that entire meal can be prepared in oven at same time.
41. Thaw frozen meats to almost room temperature before cooking.
42. Turn off your oven about five minutes before cooking time is over. The heat in the oven will keep on cooking your food, and you’ll save on gas or electric bills.
43. Don’t open the oven often to check food while it’s cooking. You lose 20 to 50 percent of the heat each time you do – and you slow down the cooking process.
44. Never use your stove for heating. It doesn’t do a good job, it’s bad for the stove and it could be dangerous.
45. Never use open flames or candles for heating. Damage from fires is much more expensive than heating bills.
46. Try to teach children to keep doors closed and discuss other ways of conserving heat and saving energy. If yours haven’t turned out a light since they were old enough to stop playing with the light switch – good luck!
47. Check to see if you qualify for any government assistance with your heating bills if you have a low income or are a senior citizen on a fixed income.
48. Check tax breaks and homeowner’s insurance policies for savings when you add energy conserving items to your home.
49. Check with your local electric company to find out if they have times during the day when the rates are lower. Using the oven, dishwasher, washing machine and other energy demanding appliances during these times may lead to big savings. Be careful. Some plans may make you pay a premium price for using electric during peak hours and you’ll need to make sure to do wash and other chores during the off hours.
50. Talk to your utility company for other suggestions for saving money on your heating bills. Many companies will actually send someone to your house for a home energy audit and offer suggestions to help you use less energy.

Luke Burgess

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