When the weather starts to get seriously colder, one of the first things that homeowners worry about is the increase in their heating bills. Once the temperature dips down low enough, it becomes necessary to turn the heat up or freeze for months on end. This leads to all sorts of additional expenses that become the bane of many people’s existence. The good news is that there are lots of effective ways to cut these bills down to size. Here are some of the best ones.
1. Improve Insulation – First and foremost, you can have your current wall, basement, and attic insulation assessed to see if any of it was improperly or inadequately installed or if it is old and needs replacement. For all you know, lots of air could be escaping your home and driving up your bills, and that will only get worse as the temperature outside gets colder. While improving this insulation may cost something upfront, the amount it saves you over the course of winter can amount to hundreds and even thousands of dollars, so it’s definitely worth the investment.
In addition, you’ll want to check for any small sources of air leakage – such as window and door frames and pipe openings – and make sure that they are covered. Much of this can be done very simply and affordably using a caulking gun from your local hardware store. Also, storm windows and doors can cut the draft inside your home, and the cracks beneath the door can be plugged with fabric draft blockers.
2. Turn Down the Thermostat and Water Temperature – One of the simplest ways to cut costs during the winter is to ensure that you are not overheating your home or water. Your home air temperature can be easily controlled using a programmable thermostat – and if you haven’t yet gotten one of these, this should be a priority before the cold sets in! Using this thermostat, you can set the temperature ahead of time based on when you will need heat the most. For instance, many people set the temperature lower during the day when they are at work and during the night when they will be asleep and warm under their covers. Dinnertime and evenings will get cold, so most people set the thermostat a bit higher during these hours.
In terms of your water temperature, many manufacturers will start you out at 140°F and, if you haven’t changed it, that’s where it has probably stayed. However, you can save a good deal of money by reducing the setting to 120° and still have water that is more than hot enough for most of your needs. In fact, 140° is scalding enough that it is just about never necessary and can sometimes be dangerous.
3. Cut Unnecessary Usage – This advice can help you out any old time of the year, but when you’re already paying extra, every little bit seems to count that much more. If there are any times that you use heat or hot water in ways that are wasteful or even just not strictly necessary, you can cut back on these.
For instance, we know how much you love that 35-minute shower and that it helps you to relax, but you will save a lot of money by trimming your time down to 15-20 minutes. Also remember to always do large laundry and dish loads, and to fill them up as much as you safely can. If you save laundry and dishes until you have enough for this, you will cut down the small, wasteful loads and decrease your hot water usage.
One way to cut unintentional over-usage is to install Energy Star rated appliances, such as a new low-flow showerhead. When your shower allows too much water to flow through during use, that water and the money you’re spending on heating it just goes down the drain. Buying a more efficient showerhead allows you to save the money and be more eco-friendly. Win-win!
4. Invest in Propane – Switching to an alternative fuel source is one of the more drastic measures that you can take but, like improving insulation, it’s one that will pay major dividends. Propane has several advantages over other heating options, but one of the biggest ones is the cost. Both residential propane tank installation and the subsequent deliveries cost significantly less than having an oil tank installed and then being at the whims of oil prices. In addition, the maintenance on oil heating systems can be laborious and expensive, where propane involves very little upkeep.
When it comes to hot water specifically, propane is not only cheaper than oil – it’s cheaper than electric! Because it heats the water faster and more accurately than electric, you’re wasting less water and less energy to heat it, and these savings will add up over winter. In addition, the equipment itself is also less prone to malfunction, meaning that you get to pay for less maintenance, repair, and replacement.
All in all, there are many things you can do to save on heating costs this winter. Contact us at Gas Tec for more information today!