No-Cost Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill

 

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There’s good news and bad news if you’re a homeowner who’s bracing yourself for the annual rise in winter heating costs: The bill won’t hurt more this year, but it won’t hurt much less.The Energy Information Administration forecasts  that the average household heating fuel expenditures this winter will decrease to $928 per household, down from $947 last year. This is the first price drop since the winter of 2001-2002.
 
If you hope to save more than the projected $19, there are many steps you can take. “There’s a lot of things that the entrepreneurial homeowner can do, if he’s a little bit handy,” says John Ryan, team leader for commercial buildings for the Building Technologies Program in the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, who has spent years thinking about efficiency in homes.
 
Here are more than a dozen simple steps you can take to slash your home’s heating bill. Six steps cost nothing. Eight more cost under $100. Combine them, and you can often expect to save 20% — and possibly much, much more — on your home heating bill this winter. And some new federal tax breaks even sweeten the opportunity. These strategies may sound simplistic, but they work well:

  • Turn down the thermostat. “The rule of thumb is that you can save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat” full time, says Bill Prindle, deputy director for the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Turn down the thermostat 10 degrees when you go to work, and again when you go to bed — a total of 16 hours a day — and you can save about 14% on your heating bill, says Prindle.
  • Use fans wisely. In just one hour, a hard-working bathroom or kitchen fan can expel a houseful of warm air, according to the Department of Energy. Turn them off as soon as they’ve done their job.
  • Keep the fireplace damper closed. Heat rises, and an open damper is like a hole in the roof. Also, limit use of the fireplace, since fires actually suck heat from a room, says Harvey Sachs, director of ACEEE’s buildings program. Close off seldom-used rooms. And shut the vents inside.
  • Turn down the water heater. Lowering the temperature of water in the water heater to 115-120 degrees reduces power use often without a noticeable difference to the user, says Prindle.
  • Keep heating vents clear. Vents blocked by rugs and furniture prevent heated air from circulating efficiently.
  • Use curtains. Opening curtains and shades on south-facing windows during the day allows solar radiation to warm a living space; closing all curtains at night helps retard the escape of that heat.


Web sites on the topic abound, but one of the best is run by the Department of Energy.

 

If you have further questions on keeping heating costs

low, please contact My PhD Services at (253) 212-9567.