The winter months can be brutal, bringing freezing temperatures and increased heating bills to homes across the country.
Tips to Keep Your Home Warm and Costs Down
The good news is that there are a few things you can do right now to keep your home warm and the costs down.
1. Replace Your Lightbulbs
LED light bulbs use between 80% and 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs according to Consumer Reports. And while LEDs used to take a long time to make up for the money you spent on them, prices have dropped, making them a much better deal. And on top of being more energy efficient, LEDs also last a whole lot longer — as long as a decade — so switching over will save you a lot of money over time.
Replacing just five of your most frequently used light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs can save you up to $75 each year, according to Energy.gov.
Consumer Reports members can see the full ratings and reviews here.
2. Lock In a Low Price
In more than half the states, you can comparison shop for the best prices on natural gas, because prices are set by the open marketplace, rather than by government regulators. If you live in one of these states, you should take advantage of this savings opportunity by locking in a low price for 12 months as soon as possible. (See if your state is deregulated.)
If you are in a deregulated state, search for your state’s Public Service Commission. You can find published monthly energy prices from all providers and do comparison your shopping using apples-to-apples data.
Remember, there is no difference between a therm or a kilowatt from one company vs. another. The only difference is the price! So shopping the market is key.
The rates usually change once a month. You can typically lock in a fixed rate for 6 to 24 months, depending on the rules in your state. Shopping for this stuff may not be fun, but it can save you a whole lot of money on a bill that comes every month like clockwork.
3. Use a Programmable Thermostat
Using a programmable thermostat can save you at least 10% per year on your heating and cooling costs. By programming it to fit your schedule, the device heats (or cools) your home when you need it to instead of wasting heat, energy and money all day long. You can also program it to heat certain parts of the house more than others, if there are areas you rarely use inside your home.
The best part is that these types of thermostats have gotten pretty easy to use, and if you’re the least bit handy, you should be able to install one yourself.
4. Open the Curtains
You may be surprised at how much heat a little bit of sunshine can bring into your home. If you leave the curtains open during the day to let the sun in, it can be a great way to keep the place heated until dark.
It also helps if you don’t have drafty windows. And according to Consumer Reports, Energy Star qualified windows can lower your energy bills by about 12%. That’s real savings, but new windows aren’t cheap, so it will take a few years to recoup your costs.
When you replace your windows, it’s important that they match the weather needs in your area. If it’s time for you to change out your windows, check out Consumer Reports’ top window picks (subscription required).
5. Keep Air Flowing
To keep things running smoothly, you need to make sure to keep your heating and cooling systems in good shape. It’s a good idea to check your furnace filter every month or so, but how often it needs to be replaced depends on several factors. Get more information here.
6. Replace Broken Appliances With Energy-Efficient Models
Replacing older appliances with newer and more energy-efficient ones is a great way to save money over time. But replacing appliances isn’t cheap, so if your older models are running fine, just wait until something breaks. Then look into energy-saving machines, which can save you a pretty good amount on both your electric and water bills.
7. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Put your ceiling fans in reverse during the winter months so they run clockwise. This will allow the fan to push the room air up toward the ceiling and force the warm air down, and that helps to heat the room without giving you the wind chill effect.
8. Use Zoned Heating
Close off rooms and areas of the house you rarely use in order to keep the heat in the areas that you do use.