Are you already bracing for the chill that's to come, and fretting about soaring costs to heat your home? Wintertime brings a lot of wonderful things, but expensive heating isn't one of them. Fortunately, you can make a few modest changes and enjoy utility savings without wearing a sweater indoors until spring.
Whether your home is brand new or it's been around for 50 years or longer, you can make living there more comfortable. There are many new energy saving products available to help you keep your energy use down, and with cold air outside as the temperature drops, there are a few to focus on this fall. (Read: Energy Bills & How to Save Money)
Enhance Utility Savings with a HVAC Tuneup
You turn it on every year, but when was the last time your heating system had a tuneup? Just like your vehicle gets better gas mileage and performs better with regular maintenance, the same is true for your heat pump, furnace, or boiler. A professional service call will result in an inspected, cleaned, and ready-to-use heating system that will run more efficiently. And if there are any repairs necessary, tending to them now means you’ll have lower bills and fewer surprises later.
Save on Heating Costs with More Insulation
Think of insulation as a nice, warm blanket for your home. It helps keep the chilly outside air where it belongs, outside. That means the money you're spending to warm the air inside your house, stays inside. An extra layer of attic insulation can mean 20 to 30 percent in utility savings, according to Bankrate. You can view a handy insulation chart to learn the optimum R-Value for each part of your house, based on where you live. The R-value is a measure of how well the insulation blocks heat transfer. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation.
Turn Down You Water Heater 10 Degrees
Most water heaters are much hotter than you need for a nice, hot shower. Most manufactures ship hot water heaters set at 140 degrees, so if you lower your water heater’s setting to 120 degrees, Bankrate says you can expect utility savings between 3 and 5 percent.
Another good idea is a blanket of insulation for the water heater. Although most are insulated inside the housing, some heat still escapes. A blanket helps guard against the loss and if you have an unfinished basement, you can also wrap the hot water pipes leaving the heater, to reduce additional heat loss.
Cut Utilities with a Programmable Thermostat
Turning down the thermostat by even a few degrees can make a big difference on your heating bills this winter. But it’s easy to forget. Also, manually turning down the thermostat at night and while you’re away from home means you’ll awaken or come home to a house that’s colder than you might like.
With a programmable thermostat, you get the best of both worlds. The temperature is set to go down while you sleep and while you’re away. But before you wake or return home, the thermostat raises the temperature again. (Read: How to Perform a Home Energy Audit)
Reduce Utility Expenses by Insulating Windows
If your windows aren’t energy-rated, you’re probably losing heat through the glass. Insulate them, and you’ll see utility savings this year, and for many years to come. And don't be put off by the cost of replacing all your windows, although that's what the sales people will try to sell you. The truth is we tend to spend our waking hours in just 2 or 3 rooms, so those are the ones you should consider upgrading to double pane windows that will keep the chill out.
Storm windows add another layer of glass, which helps block drafts and also helps keep warm air inside where it belongs. If storm windows aren’t an option, or if you want yet another layer against the cold, think about insulating drapes. The downside to heavy drapes is that they also block out natural light.
You don’t have to chill to the bone just to save money on utilities. And you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars, either. With a few small changes, you can have a comfortable home without paying an exorbitant price.
What are some ways you've already gained utility savings? We hope you've gotten ideas and will make improvement to save more energy this winter? We’d love to hear how you're improving your home, and share your homeowner story here at Home Tips for Women.