With winter just around the corner, it’s likely only a matter of time before you turn on your furnace. Unfortunately for your wallet, heating your home may be more pricey this year.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts in its October Short-Term Energy Outlook that natural gas prices are on track to rise to their highest levels since the 2007-08 winter.
Natural Gas Prices Are Going Up
According to the agency, about half of U.S. households that heat mostly with natural gas are expected to spend 30% more this winter than last winter. That increase is projected to jump to 50% if the winter is 10% colder than average.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to prepare your home to minimize heating bills. I’ll also feature some tips from money expert Clark Howard, who notes that Americans have enjoyed relatively low natural gas rates in recent years.
“We’ve been spoiled … since about the last 14 years,” Clark says. “We’ve had very favorable prices on natural gas. And we’re producing more and more of it and using it in more and more ways.”
Important: Lock in Your Rate
Because of the projected increase, Clark wants you to take an important step — if it’s available to you — to keep your natural gas rate static for the time being.
“In a small number of states, people have the ability to shop and lock in the cost of their natural gas,” Clark says. “If you live in a state with a competitive market and you can shop that market, you want to lock in that natural gas for the next year, at least six months. It will cover this winter heating season.”
5 Ways To Reduce Your Heating Bill
“If you’ve always kind of not paid attention to the idea of adding insulation to your attic, sealing up areas around your doors and windows that are leaking air, this is a fall to get it done before winter,” Clark says.
Let’s go over four other ways to keep your energy costs under control. Many of these strategies involve one-time expenses that will allow you to save year-round and long term.
Buy a Smart Thermostat
“If you don’t have a smart thermostat like a Nest or one of the Nest competitors, please get one,” Clark says. “It’s a really affordable way to lower your cost of heating and cooling by about 20% over the course of a year.”
“Those thermostats are not a lot of money. We post deals on those thermostats all the time on ClarkDeals.com,” he adds.
Places you can find smart thermostats include:
Add Insulation to Your Attic
Call an insulation contractor to come in and find where all the leaks are in your attic. Home improvement guru Dave Baker of TheHomeFixItPage.com says spray-in foam insulation will be the most effective but also the most expensive.
Dave says you can consider just spraying the foam on the leaks rather than throughout the entire attic. Typically this treatment can be done along with adding blown-in fiberglass insulation on the floor of your attic. “That is very good, too, and is the second-best thing you can do to save money because it’s going to be less expensive than the whole foamed attic,” Dave says.
Change Out Your AC Filters
Another thing you’ll want to do is change the filters in your air conditioning unit. This will not only ensure that your home is taking in clean air, but it may also keep your system from working too hard.
Weatherproof Your Windows and Doors
Use weather stripping tape around your doors if you suspect air leakage. You can also use caulk to seal up your windows if you detect a draft or see rotted wood.
I’ve caulked my windows many times in the winter. Simply cut through the caulk to open the windows again.
Want more tips? Here’s how to keep warm without spending a dime.