Monday, October 15, 2012

Money Money: 10 ways to save on heating bills

California has been having an extended summer, especially here in the San Joaquin Valley where we've been experiencing 95+ degree temperatures into October, so late last week I got ready for work and put on a sundress.  To my surprise it had rained and my car--which of course was just washed the day before--was wet! 

Hmm, perhaps the sundress was a poor choice?

The quick turn to real fall weather got me to thinking about the impending winter, and since my job is what it is my thoughts immediately turned to my winter energy bills and what I can do now to save this winter.  

Here are 10 things you can do right now to help lower your energy costs this winter:

1. Check Your Insulation. If you haven‘t looked in your attic lately (or ever!) then get up there and take a look around to make sure the insulation is in good condition. Make sure there are enough air pockets to trap cold air. Old insulation can become brittle and ineffective so if your insulation is not doing the job it might be worth the time and energy to replace it.

2. Check Your Windows. You can lose a lot of heat through the cracks around your windows and the windows themselves. Check each window and make sure it is well sealed. You can buy kits that will help you test this. Be sure to caulk and seal around windows where you find leaks, and replace any interior seals that are damaged. If your windows are old, it might be worth the money in the long run to replace them with new triple pane replacement windows.

3. Weather Proof Your Entryways. Along with the windows, check your doors for drafts. Using weather stripping around the doors will help keep your heat from leaking out and the cold from getting in. 

4. Get a Ceiling Fan. Just like you learned in 4th grade - heat rises so you want to keep the warm air down in the room, especially if you have high ceilings. Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse the direction so you can use them for cooling in the summer and pushing hot air down in the winter. Be sure you run it in the right direction or you might end up with cold air in the winter and warm in the summer!

5. Shut Off Unused Rooms. If you have a room or rooms that you don‘t use, keep the doors shut. Try to remember to shut doors if you will be in the room for a long time. Rooms which are used only sometimes will have the door fanned which allows cold air to escape into your others rooms. This, in turn, will make your furnace work harder and increase your heating costs.

6. Let The Sun Shine In. On sunny days, open your curtains and mini blinds but make sure you close them when darkness falls or on cloudy days. Getting insulated curtains can help keep out drafts from around the windows.

7. Get A Door Alignment. Over time, doors can sag and get out of alignment. Take a good look at your doors to see if they still fit in the casing properly. If they don‘t then adjust them for a tight fit.

8. Have Your Furnace Checked. Spend the money to have a professional give your furnace a checkup to be sure it is working at peak performance. This is important not only from a cost perspective but also from a safety perspective. A system that is not running as efficiently as it can cost you money in heating bills so the money to have it inspected will be well spent.

9. Change Your Air Filter. Air filters can get clogged with ends up costing you money in fuel - it causes your heating system to run inefficiently and can be a safety hazard. Changing out the filter once a year is a good idea and something you can do yourself with minimal cost.

10. Close Your House Vents. House vents allow circulation of air during the warmer months but it’s a good idea to close them at the end of fall before the real cold weather comes. Cold air seeping in can drive up heating costs and make your house feel drafty. (Best not to use a cat to close the vents, but in a pinch it will work!) 

Taking the time to follow a few of these tips will result in lower heating bills. Also, check out your energy providers’ web site for suggestions on how to practice energy efficiency and save money at the same time.

For those in the San Joaquin Valley ere are links to PG&E, Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas Company. All three sites have great suggestions on saving energy. Of course, you can always find energy and money savings tips over on our website for VIEW the Savings! 

--Dee Cox

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John Porterfield said...

Once again, a list of energy saving tips misses the mark. We follow you on your tumblr blog and often re-blog your posts. Won't be re-blogging this.

I'll only comment on #1 tip. Brushing aside insulation that is dirty on the bottom to find the air leak below it and sealing it is very important. Adding or fluffing insulation without air sealing is our #1 mistake to avoid.

See our list of Common Mistakes a Homeowner can Avoid.

Courtney said...

John, thank you for the feedback. We would love to have you consider a guest post on energy savings tips--if you're interested! We are always open to learning how we can improve our efforts, and to welcoming guest spots!

Sean Carter said...

This was a very informative post, Thanks! The one thing that stood out to me was getting your furnace checked. It was not something I had put much thought into even tho I am always complaining about my heat. Well my friend put me in contact with his heating contractors and the difference in performance and my month bill are both very noticeable

Courtney said...

Sean, thanks for reading! I'm pretty bad about this one too, but it really does make a heck of a difference!

celine sanderson said...

Wow, it didn't even occur to me that you can save money by shutting off unused rooms in the house as you mentioned in tip five! I think I could save quite a bit of money doing that. I have about three rooms, and a basement that we don't use very often. It would definitely add up month after month to not use heating or cooling energy on those rooms. Thanks so much for these ideas!
Celine |

Susan Hirst said...

I've been wondering how I can save money on heat and electricity. These tips should be fairly easy to do. I'll have to change my air filter. I'll be happy to save on my heat and electric bill.

Susan Hirst |

Logan Murphy said...

I think checking your windows is a great idea! My wife and I live in an older home and have always wondered why it is so hard to keep it warm in the winter months. Before it starts to get cold I am certainly going to check our windows. Thanks for the idea, it's supper helpful!

Logan Murphy said...

I think checking your windows is a great idea! My wife and I live in an older home and have always wondered why it is so hard to keep it warm in the winter months. Before it starts to get cold I am certainly going to check our windows. Thanks for the idea, it's supper helpful!