Were you among those of us who didn't or couldn't take advantage of the tax rebates to buy a new more efficient heating system? Whether you did or you didnt, the tough economic times are making us all take a hard look at what we can do to save money on our bills. Even if you're just looking for ways to go greener, there are steps you can take that cost little to no money and can save you quite a bit on your heating costs.
First, here are some things you can do for free that work well:
Turn down that thermostat. You may be able to save as much as 10% on your heating bill if you lower the temperature when you leave for work and when you go to bed at night.
Turn down the water heater. Lowering the temperature to 115 to 120 degrees may not be noticeable to you but can really add up in savings.
Check for blocked heating vents. Make sure that the heat you are using is circulating throughout the room.
Use curtains and shades to your advantage. Open them during the day to let in the sun's rays and close them at night to reduce drafts.
Forget the fireplace. Fire actually sucks heat out of a room. If you do use a fireplace, make sure you're heat is down and always remember to close the fireplace damper/flue when not in use.
Shut doors to unused rooms and put a curtain up to block areas not in use including a hallway with steps leading up to an attic.
Dont leave ventilation fans on longer than needed. Bathroom and kitchen fans will let the warm escape.
Reverse spin your ceiling fans. Most of us use our fans in the summer to pull cold air up but did you know that these fans' reversible motors can be used to push warm air down to keep it in our living space. Look for a switch on your fan.
Wash your clothes in cold water. Dry them while your at home to take advantage of the heat that's emitted.
Now for the low cost things you can do...
Find leaks and block them. On a windy day, you can probably see a lighted candle flicker in some common drafty spots such as outlets, recessed lighting, door and window frames, and ducts. Depending on the drafts you find, you can purchase cheaply and easily install weather stripping, caulk, outlet gaskets, and door sweeps.
Buy a programmable thermostat. You'll notice the money back in your heating bills. A programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the heat on a schedule, so you wont forget to lower the heat when your sleeping and out of the house.
Have maintenance done on your heating system regularly by a professional heating company to not only keep your system running most effectively and efficiently but to extend the life of your system as long as possible. By maintaining your heating system, you can save up to 10% on your heating bills according to the ACEEE (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy).
Wrap your water heater with an insulated jacket (if it's not a newer insulated heater), especially if it's in an unheated area, and wrap water pipes with fitted foam insulation as well. Insulation is very easy to install and inexpensive.
Check for insulation in the attic and behind walls. Roll out insulation is available at home improvement stores. If your walls aren't insulated, have an insulation contractor apply blown-in insulation (cellulose or fiberglass) to the walls.