With overnight lows forecast to fall into the low 40’s and even dipping down into the high 30’s for the next several days, you’ll probably be using your residential heating system quite a bit. Every year, it gets more expensive to heat a home, and, it’s made worse by the impact of inflation along with stagnant wages. Because there’s only two popular choices for home heating energy — gas and electric — it can be costly to keep warm during the winter months.
How to Cut Down on Heating Costs
The average home in the country at-large uses between 25 and 50 million BTU’s or British Thermal Units (the standard measurement for heating), during the winter season. For electric powered home heating systems, that’s approximately $36.25 per 1 million BTU, and, for gas, $16.98 per 1 million BTU. Depending on your home’s system, that equals quite a lot of money. Of course, these are only averages, but, consider the fact that gas and electricity rates usually rise and become less efficient as systems age.
The approach of winter brings a chill to homeowners and home insurance companies alike. Homeowners feel the pinch in their pocketbooks from rising energy bills. Heating and cooling account for 56 percent of the energy use in a typical American home, according to the Department of Energy. Home insurance companies take a similar hit from the estimated 54,500 home fires each year in the United States, one-third of which occur during January and February, causing an average of 190 deaths, 625 injuries and $286 million in property loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. —Bankrate.com
If your residential HVAC unit is more than 15 years old, Consumer Reports advises to upgrade to a new, more efficient system in order to save money month after month, regardless if it’s cold or hot outside. With new heating and air systems, there’s usually rebates, discounts, or other incentives that make it more worthwhile. In addition, you won’t be wasting as much energy just trying to keep your home comfortable. Here are some helpful tips on how to cut down on heating costs in your home:
- Check caulk and weatherstripping. Over time, window caulk and door weatherstripping wears and becomes fragile. Eventually, it fails to prevent air from circulating inside out, bringing cold air into your home, while letting warm air seep away. Check all windows and doors for leaks and seal these up to help keep your home more comfortable and spend less on heating costs.
- Reverse your ceiling fans. The ceiling fans in your home do more than circulate cool air when it’s warm outside, they also can help to keep it warm, and, save up to 10 percent on heating. Because warm air rises, it’s smart to use ceiling fans to pull cool air up and push warm air down, the reverse of what these fixtures do in the spring and summer.
- Upgrade the insulation. Insulation is one of your biggest barriers against energy loss, but, if it’s worn, torn, and old, it won’t be as useful. Check your attic’s insulation to see if it needs to be replaced and consider installing a higher grade to save more money over the long term.
- Seal drafts and leaks. Switch plates, electrical outlets, and other often unnoticed parts of the home can be conduits for letting warm air out into the dead space where it quickly dissipates.
- Patch or replace ductwork. Ductwork is very important to the efficiency of your home heating system. Rodents and insects can penetrate ductwork, or, it could be improperly installed. In either case, it needs to be checked periodically and repaired or replaced, if necessary.
Another step you can take is to install a new thermostat. There are programmable thermostats and smart thermostats with their pros and cons, but, each will be more efficient to heat your home. If possible, avoid using space heaters because these pose a number of risks.