photo: FranckReporter/iStock

How to Save on Heating Costs This Winter

By Karen Cho

Winter’s here and your house feels like a walk-in meat cooler. You’re fighting the urge to turn up the thermostat for instant relief—kind of like scratching an itchy mosquito bite. But you know you probably shouldn’t because your next utility bill will give you the chills. Not to worry, we have some tips to help you take a bite out of your heating costs.

BUNDLE UP AND GET COZY
Ditch the t-shirt and shorts for a fleece sweater and thick socks or fuzzy slippers. It doesn’t cost anything extra to put on some thicker clothing and doing so will save you big in the long term. Put a throw over your leather couch so your body doesn’t feel the shock of warm on cold. Area rugs on hardwood floor or tiles will add warmth to your living space. This would also be the time to bring out the flannel sheets for your beds.

PLUG LEAKS
If you live in an older home, chances are you may feel the odd draft here and there. Don’t ignore it but look for the source of the chill, then seal it with silicone caulk which is readily available at hardware stores. Look at replacing old weather-stripping that has loosened with age; one way to ensure that your weather-stripping is still doing its job is to lock door and windows and see if the weather-stripping stays in place.

SET IT AND WALK AWAY
Leave the thermostat alone after you’ve set it for 20 or 21 C—considered to be an efficient indoor setting. Frequently changing your thermostat setting wastes energy. Consider investing in a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust temperatures at preset times. When you depend on a person to regulate the thermostat, human comfort tends to override logic.

OPTIMIZE THE HEAT
Open the curtains or blinds in the day to collect free heat from the sun, especially on the south side of the house where there’s more direct sunlight. Conversely, draw them at night to keep the existing heat in. Take it a step further by putting plastic film over the windows and doors that are infrequently used. Close the doors and the vents to spare rooms as you want to only be heating rooms in use. Opened vents should be unobstructed by arranging furniture around them so you’re not limiting the flow of heat.

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START FROM THE GROUND UP
Heat your basement even though it may be unfinished and you seldom go down there except to retrieve something from the chest freezer. A cold basement will make the first floor of your house feel cold. Better yet, think about insulating the unfinished basement to retain the heat that you’re paying for.

CLEAN THE FURNACE
Replace your furnace filters regularly (every one to two months depending on the frequency of use of the unit) because a dirty filter makes your furnace work harder. If you’ve done all of the above and your house still feels a little chilly, it’s time to look into having your heating system serviced by a heating professional, which should be done on an annual basis anyway.

MAKE THE SWITCH
Add value to your energy bills by switching to AMARewards partner Burst Energy. Sign up (no locked-in contracts) and you’ll get $5 in reward dollars each month with your natural gas bill, and $5 more in reward dollars with your monthly electricity bill. That’s $120 in reward dollars annually—enough to cover your AMA membership renewal!