Here in Arizona we do not need to use much heat (these tips almost completely wipe out my heating bill – we average less than $15/month for gas, which is our hot water and heat and our customer charge is $11). We moved here from Kansas City though and I grew up in central Illinois so I am no stranger to harsher winters. It is a good idea to use some of these heating tips so your winter bill doesn't get too high.
No matter where you are at, doing these things will save money on your heating bill. Budgeting is all about putting your money where you want it and I would much rather spend on some fun homesteading needs than required heat for my home. Of course, we need heat, so the key is to use as little as possible. These tips will help keep you warmer and your pocketbook happier.
Frugal Heating Tip #1: Winterize your Windows
If you have older windows then you can look into replacing them, but if you do not have the cash for that right now then there are a few things you can do to make the most out of what you have.
- Make sure any spaces are patched and caulked. Don't let that cold winter air seep into your house!
- Apply a plastic film window kit. These kits are great and when applied right (using a hair dryer), you will never know they are there. I used to live in a rental with especially drafty windows and this little kit saved us just under 50% of our heating bill (about $80/month)! You can get the window kit from Amazon here (currently it is $13 for 5 window treatments).
- You can also use bubble wrap insulation on your windows (this will also help with cooling). Unlike the plastic film window kit, you will be able to tell it is on the window. But, if that doesn't bother you then it can save some money! You need to buy a large roll and cut it to size. Smaller bubbles are better insulators but are harder to see through so you can decide what size works for your family.
Frugal Heating Tip #2: Don't Overuse Kitchen and Bathroom Fans
These fans expel air outside at a fast rate so only use them when necessary!
Frugal Heating Tip #3: Clear the Area Around your Vents
If you have furniture or other items blocking your vents then your system has to work harder and longer to achieve the same heating rate. Make sure that your vents are not blocked.
Frugal Heating Tip #4: Seal the Leaks
If you feel a draft then find out where it is coming from and fix it! Drafts will make your heating system run harder and it will make you feel chilled. Caulk and sweeps are easy to add on doors (or raise the threshold). If that is a little too much work right now then use a draft blocker. You can make them (just sew a tube as long as your door and fill it with something heavy like rice) or you can purchase them. They even have some (like this one) that blocks the draft on both sides.
Frugal Heating Tip #5: Change your Air Filter
A new air filter might cost you $5-$10, but it will save 3-10% off your heating bill. Plus, it has the added bonus of keeping your system running longer.
Frugal Heating Tip #6: Lower your Thermostat
You will save about 3% of your bill for every degree you lower your thermostat. To make this easier see the programmable/learning thermostat tip.
Frugal Heating Tip #7: Use a Programmable Thermostat
Programming your home to be cooler when you are gone and when you are sleeping will save you a lot of money. There is no need to heat a home when you are gone or under the covers. You can program it to warm back up before you get home or wake up so you will never know the difference. Better yet, you can get a learning thermostat. I love our Nest Thermostat and I don't have to do a thing to save money with it. It figures out my schedule and takes care of it for me (along with a lot of other features). The Nest is the primary reason why our heating bill is less than $15/month. The winter before we installed it the heating bill was closer to $40 (and didn't include the water heater). That is in Arizona – think of what it will do for those of you who are in a cold state! You can read my review of the Nest Thermostat here.
Frugal Heating Tip #8: Cover your Water Pipes
Foam pipe covers are sold online, at Home Depot, and Lowe's (and other home improvement stores). They are pre-cut and ready to go. All you have to do is put them around your pipe and your water stays hotter. Do it before the cold season hits. We tried to cover ours right after a cold spell and they had sold out of them everywhere!
Frugal Heating Tip #9: Use Free Solar Energy
Open the shades and drapes of the windows that face the sun and close the ones that do not.
Frugal Heating Tip #10: Lower your Water Heater Setting
Generally you can lower it to 120 degrees without noticing a difference.
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