In the midst of dropping temperatures and rising heating bills, strategies to lower your heating bill may prove essential this winter. The US Energy Information Administration recently predicted that if the winter is even a little colder than usual, energy bills could increase by 15% for households that get their heat from electricity. Those who heat their homes with natural gas could see a 50% jump, and households using fuel oil and propane could see their rates jump 59% and 94%, respectively.
Read on to discover strategies to counter these rising heating bills, including affordable solutions and more expensive investments:
- Stop leaks in your home.
- Invest in new windows.
- Use heating tips.
- Install solar panels.
- Buy a smart thermostat.
- Operate ceiling fans.
- Draw the shadows.
Inexpensive Solution: Stop Leaks in Your Home
Make sure your home is properly insulated, says Steve Hoffins, vice president of window and door marketing at Cornerstone Building Brands in Cary, North Carolina. He suggests looking at your walls, floors and ceilings, as well as the perimeters of doors, windows, appliances and other air infiltration points for good insulation.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs by air-sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors above crawl spaces. and accessible basement ledge joints.
You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money fixing your leaks, according to Hoffins. Spray foam may work well. Granted, that may not cut your heating costs by 15%, but any heat you can keep from escaping your home should help lower your bill.
Costly solution: invest in new windows
It’s a sad fact that in order to save a lot on heating costs in the long run, you have to spend money in the short run. But if drafts are entering your home, you are fighting a losing battle. At some point, investing in your home will become inevitable.
Many new windows come with energy-saving features that will let you heat your home inexpensively, Hoffins says.
âAlmost every window on the market today has double-pane insulating glass, but many manufacturers even offer upgrades to triple-pane glass, insulating spacers, and even an argon and krypton gas fill for an extra charge. maximum efficiency, âexplains Hoffins.
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to replace a window is $ 850, and the price typically ranges between $ 300 and $ 2,100.
But keep in mind that this investment will pay off in the end. The US Department of Energy points out that windows are responsible for 25-30% of residential energy use for heating and cooling.
Inexpensive Solution: Use Heating Tips
If you can’t afford new windows or doors, you may want to consider a temporary fix involving bubble wrap and tin foil from Chris Harvey, Marketing Manager at Stelrad Radiator Group, a UK-based company.
“If you suffer from drafts on windows, a quick and easy trick to keeping the heat on the right side of the window is to cover the insides of your windows with bubble wrap,” says Harvey. “This will trap air and keep warm air circulating in the room.”
Of course, it won’t look like something out of a home decor magazine. But if that means you’re hotter and saving money, who cares?
Harvey has another tip: âIf you have a heater attached to an exterior wall, don’t let the cold wall suck up your precious heat,â he says. âInstead, put aluminum foil behind the radiator. The reflective nature of the aluminum foil will prevent heat from disappearing through the wall and reflect it back into the room. Simple, but very effective.
Costly solution: install solar panels
Like windows, solar panels are an expensive home improvement.
âWe have installed solar power systems ranging from $ 10,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars – the price depends on the amount of roof or ground mounting space available, the shading of the property and how much solar energy the owner or business owner wants the system to use. produce, âsaid Jayson Waller, Founder and CEO of Powerhome Solar, a rooftop solar panel installation and energy efficiency services company operating in 15 states.
âMany homeowners include the option of battery storage, and while this increases costs, it gives consumers additional peace of mind in the event of potential outages,â he adds.
No, it’s not cheap, but as Waller says, since solar panels are usually financed, “all the energy produced by the panels is completely free once the loan is paid off.”
So, once you pay for the solar panels, you eliminate your electric bill – during winter, spring, summer and fall.
Inexpensive solution: buy a smart thermostat
A smart thermostat, which can automatically adjust your home’s heating and cooling system when you’re home or away, typically costs a few hundred dollars and can lower your utility bill, says CEO Kiki Dikmen. of Choice! Energy Management, a Houston-based energy supply and utility management company.
How much will a smart thermostat reduce your bill? According to Nest, a popular smart thermostat, a household will typically save 10-12% on heating costs and 15% on cooling. These thermostats can be programmed to change the temperature when people are away, so you don’t keep a house toasty warm around the clock.
“Other cost-saving measures would be to insulate the pipes and insulation throughout the house, use LED bulbs and ensure that none of the air vents are blocked,” says Dikmen .
This last tip is good: if your sofa sits on an air vent, it is even more difficult to heat your home. Relocating furniture might not seem like an energy saving strategy, but it could actually save you a bit on your heating costs.
Inexpensive solution: run ceiling fans
If you have ceiling fans, use them. And the best way to do that during the colder months is to run them “in normal forward mode at the lowest setting to force the hot air down from the ceiling,” says Jordan Hobfoll, CEO of Energy Simply. , owner of GetEnergySimply. .com, which specializes in helping Texans find the best electrical plans.
Inexpensive solution: draw the shadows
Hobfoll points out that if you lower your shades you can reduce the heat escaping through the window, especially if they are well-fitting, insulated cellular shades.
But you don’t have to live completely in the dark. âMake sure your south-facing windows let in sunlight on a sunny day, because the sun will still warm your home even in cold weather,â says Hobfoll.