Cut Your Heating Bill – 5 things you can do

cut your heating bill

Wooden, single pane. I need to replace these.

Please note I didn’t say all 5 of these energy saving tips were easy or necessarily cheap lol. 4 are fairly simple and straightforward, 1 could get expensive and messy and that is kind of the last straw one, when you may want to consider replacing older heating or hvac systems.

It’s something we all want to do right? Save money? One way to save money is to reduce how much you are paying each month to heat or cool your home. Many people think that little changes don’t add up but they do. The less often that you run your furnace also means the less time the fan runs. By having the fan run less frequently it will require less maintenance and the filter can be changed less often. It’s like a little pyramid scheme.

Stop trying to think of a big way to save, focus on maximizing the energy efficiency of your home, what you already have and are working with. This will also improve the overall long term value (probably) of your house. Sometimes you may even earn yourself a tax credit if you take certain steps.

So check it out below – some easy tips that you can take and do on your own house quickly. Do you want to not just think about making a change? Instead of each time going to turn up the heat you go, “you know, I really could put on a sweater and keep my thermostat the way it is?” It might take a sacrifice in some cases below, it might just take a day or two of elbow grease like the doors. This is the best way to realize overall savings, not only on your heating bill but your entire electric, gas, or utility bill.

These aren’t earth shattering, original ideas. Easy generic ones that are forgotten about, overlooked, or gasp, ignored as being too tedious or whatever. Just do it, do it once a year and you’ll save money!

The Easy

Adjusting and/or programming your thermostat is an awesome first step.

honeywell programmable thermostat

This is the exact t-stat I have. Kind of easy to install, big savings.

Program it so that of course when you are not at home, the temperature it tries to maintain is lower than what normal comfort level is. Since you’re NOT HOME ha ha. Have it also go a bit lower at night while you sleep. Then program it to come on a bit before you wake up each day or get home.

Programmable thermostats, or t-stats, are also a wise inexpensive investment as they reduce your overall heating and cooling costs for the entire year or season. Basically they pay for themselves quickly and then start saving you money each month on the bill.

If you want to go crazy or as I prefer to say, be a man you can always go crazy and take this additional caveman step. Like me.

Quickly – I adjust my thermostat as the year passes and the seasons change. I believe in making my body adjust a little, a little seasonal evolution. I live here in the mid-south where it is hot and humid during the summer and pretty guldang cold during the winters.

It can get up to 100F or more, with the humidity the heat index makes it feel like 115F! This winter was especially bad for here and was around 15-20F for a good few weeks there. So what I do is this.

As the weather changes and spring approaches or winter, on about a weekly basis I make 1F adjustments to my thermostat setting. Why? Imagine how hard your air conditioning unit has to work to try and cool your house down to 72F!  Not to mention how expensive that would be. Or to try and heat it to 72F. By increasing the temperature setting once a week as the dog days of summer get here, I can take it and my house has to work and cost less.

By the end of summer the inside of my house is set to maintain 85F! Sound hot? But when you’re outside doing stuff in 110F temps and walk into a 85F place, it feels pretty flippin’ cool. Same with the winter. After the last super hot days of summer pass, I go the other way. 1F a week or so until mid-winter when the t-stat is set for 64F while we’re awake and 60F while sleeping. Any idea how toasty and welcoming a bed is when you’re freezing? Feels so good to get wrapped up in it. And you are saving on energy costs.

Checking your doors is another fairly easy way to save on energy costs.

ways to lower energy bill

Even sealing these semi-small gaps would reduce heating and cooling costs.

Many doors allow heat (or coolness) to escape and cold temperatures to sneak in. You might have to replace weather stripping and do some caulking around the door frames, much like you would do with windows that are experiencing the same thing.

Last year I was at the store and saw they had weather stripping on sale. I bought a roll with the intent of checking my doors and windows but not reall having looked before, I didn’t know how bad any gaps or cracks were.

Was I glad I did. That wasn’t really a question, but yes I was glad. My main front door had the biggest gap ever along a side. As I paid more and more attention to it I noticed at certain angles you could see sunlight. Now that is snug. Not.

After installing weather stripping where I could and where it needed it, huge difference. Huge. Not only in the monthly utility bill but also in the amount of drafts they were causing I guess. Now that they are mostly gone, you can tell that they were there before. Make sense?

Check your insulation.

Insulation is probably like the only thing I have never messed with. I don’t know much about it. I know it has different ratings. Before you think about replacing the insulation in your attic, measure it first.

I think most places like Lowe’s give out free insulation measuring tools. Basically a ruler. You dip it into like a patch of your insulation and see what it reads. The rating, denoted by the r factor maybe?, let me google that for you, is indicated on the free ruler.

As time passes, your old insulation settles and loses its ability to absorb or reject heat or coolness.  Its r factor goes down. By measuring it you are just making sure yours is still good and functional.

If you find a bad patch, see if you can easily just replace that section.  Wear a mask and eye protection for sure.

The Medium

Repair or replace windows. At least inspect them.

Single pane - least efficient.

Single pane – least efficient.

Many windows in older homes can produce a draft around the window frame or sash. If you can feel a draft, you are losing energy. Take action.

Replace old caulking and weather stripping around the frames. Clean gunk off at least. If dirt can find a spot of grime to adhere to, another will, and another, and then corrosion and damage start to happen.

If you can afford it, replace the old windows with newer more energy efficient windows that have a low U-value and a high R-value. This is something I need to do badly. I have single pane windows. The only good thing is that I don’t really have any condensation issues which can open a whole other reason for replacing your windows.

Basically, windows serve to insulate the home keeping the home temperatures in – not letting heat or cold air escape – as well as not allowing the outside temperatures to sneak inside the home.

Installing energy efficient windows used to be one way to earn a tax credit from Uncle Sam so check into that. Windows is another investment that quickly pays for itself due to the immediate savings.  Keeping them well maintained also helps boost the value later.

Last Resort

Replace older heating and cooling systems.

how to lower heating costs

Someone should be cleaning this coil. You should too.

Most heating systems are designed to work for about 15 to 20 years although some are quite older. Most likely, the older a heating system is, the less efficient it will be. If you can afford it, replace your old heating unit with a more efficient one that carries an Energy Star rating label which signifies over 90% efficiency.

Most of us can’t afford a new unit, but we should all perform some preventative maintenance on our old ones to prolong its usefulness and increase efficiency.

  • check the air filter(s).
  • clean any coils.
  • bleed trapped air from the lines
  • check that drain lines can drain and flow properly.
  • check for soot and dust build up; clean as needed.

Anything you can do to prevent a breakdown or making the unit work harder will help with efficiency.  Be sure to check ducts for any holes (leaks) and repair them.

There are a number of ways to improve the energy efficiency in your home so you can reduce your heating bills. This is just a handful of mainly free ideas that you could do in a weekend.  These are just basics: check windows, doors, and your insulation, heating systems.

Make simple, tiny little programming adjustments to your thermostat, make your furnace run less often. Or, get a programmable thermostat!

Consider asking your electric or gas company to inspect your home inside and out to bring to your attention the different areas that could use some repair in the energy efficiency department. Go to their website and get some ideas, I could probably link to my utility company energy page right here.

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