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    How to Save Money on Your Heating Bill This Winter

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    Winter is coming. Or, better put, winter is already here. For those of us used to the frigid chill of winter air, this is the time to don heavier sweaters, scrape the ice off our cars, and yes, turn up the heat.

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    When the time comes, and you can no longer put off cranking the thermostat up, there is one other thing that goes up with the heat: your heating bill. Costs typically rise in winter, due to people's natural inclination to want to stay warm, and the demand for heating resources going up. It is the age-old connection between supply and demand. This can mean that saving money in the wintertime feels like a Herculean feat, or just downright undesirable, but you do not need to shiver for the next few months in order to save on your heating bill.

    Try these tips that we have compiled, and enjoy the warmth of a slightly lower heating bill.

    Use Heat Only When You Need It

    It's very tempting to huddle in a pile of blankets and binge watch or hibernate your way through the winter. Unfortunately, almost all of us have to leave our homes on a regular basis. Use these absences to your advantage. If you are going to work or will be away from home for more than a couple of hours, go ahead and drop the temperature on your thermostat a few degrees. This lowered temperature will show up on your heating bill as money saved because your furnace does not have to work as hard to maintain the lower temperature.

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10% on your heating costs by turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours per day.

    This same trick works for when you are asleep. Usually, when you go to bed, you are bundled under many blankets and are wearing warm pajamas. Bumping the thermostat back a couple of degrees as you are going to bed can add to the savings you get from doing the same while you are away from home.

    Programmable Thermostat

    This trick works even more efficiently when paired with a programmable thermostat. This prevents you from forgetting to set the temperature to one number or the other at any point, because you can program it once, then let the program take care of it for the rest of the season. Programmable thermostats usually have four slots for programming, allowing you to set temperature changes at four different times of the day.

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10% on your heating costs by turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours per day.

    Bundle Up

    It is surprising how several smaller changes can make you feel so much warmer. Simply switching to flannel sheets, adding a fuzzy blanket, or adding an electric blanket or mattress pad can make your bed the coziest place in the world. You can even use any combination of those items together to increase the cozy factor.

    Wearing long johns or sweaters with your usual clothes, or wearing multiple layers will also help you to stay warmer without changing the temperature on the thermostat.

    Additionally, using an electric throw while you are watching your shows or movies or surfing the internet will also help you to stay warm.

    Use Supplemental Heat

    Even with centralized heating, there is always going to be at least one room in the house that is colder than all the rest. This is a fantastic opportunity to use supplemental heat sources. The use of supplemental heat sources will allow you to target heat where and when you need it most, without raising the thermostat for the rest of the house.

    The use of supplemental heat sources will allow you to target heat where and when you need it most, without raising the thermostat for the rest of the house.

    Supplemental heat sources allow you to have a hot shower in a warm bathroom, or even to enjoy that room on the northeast corner of your home that's consistently 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house.

    SunStar Space Heater

    There are many types of supplemental heat sources available, from the exceedingly portable to the quite permanent. Space heaters, fireplaces, wood burning stoves are three well-known options to add additional coziness to your home.

    Cover Your Floors (Or Feet)

    Hardwood floors and tile are beautiful, and linoleum is economical, but all three are not known for being kind to feet in the winter. Consider area rugs for your hardwood floors and kitchen areas to retain as much heat in those areas as possible. Bathroom rugs will save your feet from frigid bathroom floors as you step straight out of the hot shower. Hearth rugs are excellent choices for the areas directly around your fireplace or stove, and if you feel up to renovation, you could even replace some of your floor surfaces with carpet, for warmer flooring surfaces.

    Another option, if adding rugs or carpet is beyond your abilities at this time, is to get slippers or socks. For your bathroom, you can lay down a spare towel if you lack any other options. Just make sure that you remember that the towel will need to be washed regularly and that you will need to keep a backup spare towel to swap with it. One suggestion is beach towels, as they are often larger and thicker than normal towels.

    Evaluate Your Home

    Heat loss is one of the largest factors in the amount of the average heating bill, and heat escapes from your home in the sneakiest of ways. Conducting an inspection of all the ways your home could be losing heat is an excellent way to see where either heat is escaping or cold air is entering.

    Winter House

    Air can leak around doors and windows, and these stubborn leaks can easily be detected with a simple long-nosed lighter, such as a barbecue lighter or a candle lighter. (With smaller hand-held lighters, you might not be able to reach the top of the door and window frames.) Move the flame slowly around the perimeter of the door or window; if the flame starts to dance in multiple directions, either towards or away from the door or window, then you likely have a leak. Low-cost adhesive backed foam strips are available at local hardware stores to seal smaller air leaks and larger leaks, such as ones found in rotted out window or door frames, can be temporarily filled with sprayable expanding foam.

    Heat loss is one of the largest factors in the amount of the average heating bill, and heat escapes from your home in the sneakiest of ways.

    A chimney, when your fireplace is not in use, is a major source of unwanted air movement. Inspecting the chimney, and the damper assembly when the damper is closed will allow you to see if there are any gaps you may need to consider filling with insulation. If you do not plan to use the fireplace, any gaps between the damper and the frame can be sealed with foam insulation. If there is no damper plate at all, rolled insulation batting can be stuffed into the frame to seal the opening. If you still use your fireplace regularly, then consider upgrading your damper with one like this Lyemance Energy-Saving Damper, which has a thick silicone seal to stop any and all air leakage.

    Additionally, attics, when properly ventilated, act like a chimney for your home, pulling heat up and out of your primary living space. Ensuring that your attic insulation is neither missing or excessively settled is an easy task. Merely getting up there and have a look around is enough. If you have either problem, many home improvement stores rent out insulation blowers that allow for cellulose insulation to be quickly and easily added where necessary. Also look at all recessed lighting and the attic door, making sure that they are sealing adequately and not providing pathways for heat to escape.

    During your winter home evaluation, consider having your central heating system inspected

    And finally, during your winter home evaluation, consider having your central heating system inspected. Dirty or rusty heat exchangers, leaking supply or return ducts, and an improperly balanced duct system can all lead to loss of efficiency, which will drive up the costs to operate the system.

    Consider a Different Heating Source

    You may be paying more on your heating bill due to the type of fuel. Generally speaking, Natural Gas is the cheapest way to heat your home at the moment. If you currently have propane or electric, or another type of fuel source, you might consider looking into the possibility of switching to Natural Gas.

    The US Energy Information Administration lists the November 2017 Natural Gas price at $3.01 per million BTUs, and the November 2017 Propane cost at $0.98 per gallon. This requires a little bit of math to compare the two, and Figure 5 does that work for you, utilizing the EIA listing of 91,333 BTU per gallon of Propane.

    Natural Gas Price vs. Propane Price

    Admittedly, all sources are not available in all locations, so it is entirely dependent on where you are, but it never hurts to do your research and see what is available in your area and at what cost.

    Summary

    There is no getting around it, if you live in an area where harsh winters are common, preparing for them is a yearly concern, not only for general comfort but your budget as well.

    However, by taking the measures we have offered here, you can make a difference in your home or apartment. You might even be able to see some sizable changes in your heating bill with a combination of these smaller changes made throughout your home. Try one or several to see what makes the greatest difference and feels the most comfortable for you and your family.

    Quick Tips

    See what options are available to savvy winter home heaters, like yourself, to make sure your home stays warm and toasty all winter long.

    About the Author

    Adrienne Devine

    Adrienne is our wordsmith in residence, specializing in Content Writing and Editing. During her free time, she reads, writes, makes art, and plays with her two cats, Inkspot and Nicholas. Adrienne also enjoys collecting books and has a personal collection of nearly one thousand well-loved tomes.

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