5 ways to save on heating costs
When it comes to heating, some of us use natural gas, others heating oil, there are homes powered with the sun and a few folks are lucky enough to heat with geothermal energy.
Anyway, as the days get shorter and colder, I thought it might be a good idea to consider a few ways to save on energy. The best way to save on energy costs might be to move to a milder climate. When we lived in the Frozen North, our heating bill during the winter regularly eclipsed $250 a month. Here in Colorado, our highest monthly bill was less than $150. Of course, that suggestion might not be practical for most of us, so here are a few more practical tips:
Don’t turn on the heat
I’m not suggesting that you go without heat during the winter, but wait as long as you can to reach for the thermostat. We always try to hold out until November at least. The promise of warm air flowing from a heat duct is tempting in the mornings, but with a good pair of slippers and a little self-discipline, you can survive until the sun starts coming in the windows. This tactic is a little easier for folks who live in locales where the sun shines. Those of you who live in areas with little sun this time of year are going to find this more difficult. It is not a bad idea to try to go as long as possible, though. Every day without turning up the thermostat is money in your pocket.
Keep that thermostat low
Most of us can function at a temperature that is a couple of degrees cooler than you might assume with a little time to get used to the cooler temps and a few lifestyle adjustments. Make sure your feet are covered, wear long sleeves or get a blanket to help you cope. Setting the thermostat at 68F instead of 70F during the day and 58F instead of 60F at night can go a long way toward helping you save on heating costs.
Use alternate sources of heat
There are other ways to warm up a house: cook at home, allow as much sun through windows as possible, use your fireplace or do a few calisthenics to get your blood moving. It also helps if the family spends evenings as close together as possible. When I was a child, I remember the whole family spending most of our winter evenings in the kitchen reading, doing homework or playing games. We kept the door closed and did not have to heat the rest of the house. In one place where we lived, all of the sleeping rooms were in a fairly localized area of the house. If we ran a small space heater near the bedrooms, we found could keep the house heat under 50 degrees F and still sleep comfortably. Snuggling with your spouse is another way to stay warm . . .
Hot Water Heater
I like my showers HOT! But my personal comfort is not always the best way to save a little money. Keep your hot water heater thermostat as low as possible. Here is a simple test: turn on your shower to the hottest possible setting. If the water flowing from the nozzle is too hot for anyone in the house to use, your hot water heater is set too high. The energy required to keep the water at that temperature is wasted if there is no requirement for that temperature.
Laundry is another area where many households can save on heating energy costs. Is that load big enough to warrant running the washing machine? Do you really need to use ‘hot’ water when ‘warm’ will do? How about doing a load with cold water?
Proper maintenance and insulation
Most of us cannot do much about how well our house is insulated, but there are a few things that you can do to make sure that your home is as efficient as possible: make sure that windows are locked, install a storm door, keep the garage door closed and use window dressings that keep heat in and cold out. Replacing your furnace filter on a regular basis is one of the cheapest ways to make sure that your furnace runs as smoothly as possible.
Stay warm! One Wednesday, we’ll talk about holding the line on electrical costs.
Article by Stew
Photo by the bridge
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