Winter is coming, as the popular series Game of Thrones reminds us. Ready or not, our budgets can start to feel the pinch in the form of higher heating bills.
Studies show that the average U.S. household spends more than $2,000 each year in home utility expenses and we suspect that Midwest winters do not help that cause. In fact, more than 40 percent of those annual costs come from heating a home, while nearly 20 percent of those costs are for heating water.
Can you do anything to lessen that burden? Yes! The measures you take now can make a significant dent in your future bills and make for a more comfortable home at the same time. Talk about a win-win! Here’s a look at a few ways you can curb heating costs:
Any Mary Poppins fans out there? Then you should know about how dirty the average chimney can be. You should call in the pros to clean out your fireplace annually and make sure the damper is working properly. Consider caulking a fireplace hearth to avoid lost energy and never run your regular heating system with a fire at the same time. Also, if the fireplace is never used, it can be sealed to boost energy efficiency.
Chances are, you don't know what type of insulation is in your home or how much. Sometimes older homes don’t always have any or the best quality insulation due to changes in building codes in the 1960s. Hire a professional to check it out and be sure to zero-in on basement, attic, ceiling or floors for added measure. This expense can be an investment for years to come in the form of lower heating bills.
What you can’t see can drive up your bill. Air leaks, usually at windows and with doors, can be invisible sources of energy loss. Get ahead of the game and consider preventative measures like adding plastic film insulation to windows and make sure to address other basic tasks. Don’t forget curtains, which can also keep the heat in. Last, weather stripping your door or caulking where possible is an easy fix that you will see on the utility bill.
Do you love the warm and toasty feeling at home? While it may be tempting to crank up the thermostat, you might not like the consequences. Instead, consider putting on a sweater or sweatshirt to feel comfortable. Also, you might see cost savings by turning down the heat slightly during off-peak hours. Consider adopting the 10-percent principle. To save money, turn your thermostat down 10 degrees when you are sleeping or at work and school by day. It can save you 10 percent on your heating bill.
This tip is low-hanging fruit, but every little bit can help. Baking a casserole for dinner? After turning the oven off, leave the door open a crack to let out the warmth into the kitchen and beyond. Plus, an added bonus: the scent from that yummy dish will fill the house.
Energy costs in any home can rack up faster than you can say “let it snow.” But taking these proactive steps, your bank account will thank you.
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