Reduce winter heating bills with these tips

Reduce winter heating bills with these tips

You likely spend more than 40 percent of your utility bill on heating and cooling, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Generally, more than half of that percentage is for heating. You can slash your heating bill by changing how you keep the cold out. Here’s how:

Dress for winter inside — If you’re wearing sleeveless tops and shorts and going barefoot inside your house in winter, you’ve got the thermostat set too high. Lower it to 68 degrees, and you’ll be comfortable if you dress for winter. That means layering on long-sleeved shirts, sweats, sweaters and socks when inside, as well as outside. For every degree adjusted, you can save 1 to 3 percent on heating costs, depending on your heating source.

You can save 10 percent of your utility bill by turning back the thermostat 10 to 15 degrees for at least 8 hours. Setting it back at night makes the most sense.

Stop the drafts and leaks — Save your heating dollars by caulking, sealing and weatherstripping wherever outside meets inside.

Take care of your furnace — Replace or clean the furnace filter each month you heat; dirty filters can greatly affect the heating ability of the furnace and waste valuable fuel. Vacuum heating registers and as far into the ducts as you can reach. If you have baseboard or electric wall heaters, brush and remove dust and dirt from the cooling fins and fan. Check and clean electronic air cleaners every three weeks or so.

 Insulate — Insulation is the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency. Your home will be more comfortable winter and summer and your utility bill lower if you insulate to recommended (or above) levels.

Adjust your water heater temperature — It’s easy to forget your water heater is running 24/7 to keep water hot for the relatively small amount of time you need it. Lowering the set temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees can add up to significant savings when you multiply 24/7 by 52 weeks a year. Every 10-degree reduction in water temperature can save 3 to 5 percent in energy costs.

Reverse the switch on your ceiling fans — Push down the warm air that naturally rises. This is especially important in rooms with high ceilings.

Open heating vents — Make sure they are open and unblocked by furniture or other items to insure air is evenly distributed through the home.

Check your ducts — Look for sections that have become separated. Seal leaks with mastic, butyl tape, foil tape or other heat-approved tapes – not duct tape.

Turn off ventilating fans within 20 minutes — After 20 minutes, these fans in bathrooms and kitchens suck out warm air and can empty a warm house in about an hour.

Throw down some rugs — If you have tile or wood floors, putting down area rugs will make you feel more comfortable.

For additional tips, download A Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling at

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