Heating Costs Burning a Hole in Your Budget?

With the price of oil-based fuels steadily on the rise you may be wondering how you can effectively reduce the cost for heating your home this winter. There are several modifications that you can make in order to ensure that you are going to be getting the most out of your money. By utilizing all of your options now you can lower the cost of maintaining a comfortable home temperature this winter without over extending your wallet. Whether it is winterizing your home or changing your own actions you will have an active role in reducing your winter heating costs.

There are several factors in how your fuel bill relates to your home. Of course, the climate you live in is the dominating factor. Some of the other factors to consider is how much heat is allowed to escape the interior of your home, the cost of the fuel used to heat your home and the efficiency of the appliance generating the heat.

Before you consider replacing the existing heating system of your home with the desire to decrease your heating budget make sure your home has underwent proper winterization techniques. Check all of the external openings such as door frames, window frames as well as your heating ducts themselves, the insulation level in the wall attics and crawlspaces. Homeowners are often surprised at how much heat they are allowing to escape the interior structure. Proper winterization can dramatically lower the average homeowners heating expense.

Homeowners can take the initiative in weatherizing their own homes, sometimes with very little out of pocket expense. Take a piece of incense and light it then slowly outline windows and door frames. By doing this you will see where the smoke goes and let you know where the heat will be seeping out of your home. At most local hardware store you can find winterization tape, insulating foam, or winterization putty that will help to seal these small crevices keeping more of the heat in and the cold out. Also putting up plastic to cover your windows can help with heat loss through older windows. Older windows were not subject to multiple panes and can often allow heat loss through the framing of the window itself and not just the window casing.

Check your heating ductwork…. if there are gaps or holes a simple role of hvac tape or aluminum tape can solve your problem. Aluminum tape is a bit more expensive than regular duct tape but actually will prevent air from escaping even with the condensation associated with some types of ductwork.

Check the insulation in your attic. Recommendations are 6 to 8 inches of insulation as most heat escapes as it rises to the higher level in your homes. If you are a bit shy you might consider having some insulation installed now to cut the cost down later. You can do this yourself by checking what is available to you at your local home improvement store or hardware.

Check your crawlspace for any drafts that may be flowing underneath your home. Often when the floors are cold and remain cold it can cause and increase in your heating bills. A cold floor will cause what heat is coming in to cool much more quickly. You might even consider laying down a vapor barrier so that it cannot remain as damp underneath your home. Moisture makes the cold air seem colder. You might also seal up any leaks you can in some way whether a simple piece of plywood or adding more insulation underneath your floor.

Check your appliances energy ratings…If you can’t find one more than likely they are not an approved Energystar appliance. Energystar appliances are made to maintain higher efficiency for the use they are intended and the lowest possible cost. The higher the rating the lower the operational cost to the homeowner. Also you might consider insulating your water heater if you are using an oil-based fuel. By maintaining the temperature longer your water heater doesn’t have to work as hard to keep it at a constant temperature.

Simple steps like lowering your thermostat several degrees or the temperature of your hot water heater can also help to improve heating costs. Using ceiling or oscillating fans can keep the air circulating and spread the heat in each room. Just having them set on low can spread the air without cooling the air to dramatically.

Use your dryer load after load so that the dryer doesn’t have time to cool and this prevents the need to reheat. Also clean the lint filter after each load so that the air intake and exhaust is not compromised. By doing this you are allowing your dryer to achieve maximum ability. Make sure your outside vent is allowing the exhaust to flow freely and check your venting hose to make sure it is free of clogs.

Cutting showers from fifteen minutes to ten minutes will help your water heater to maintain the hottest water possible and will prevent emptying out the tank and having to reheat the colder water completely from the beginning.

Don’t be afraid to test out temperatures needed to wash laundry. Some detergents come strictly in a cold-water formula to perform better in cold-water settings regardless of materials.

Open the drapes when sunlight is available and close them when it is not. Invest in thicker drapes to help create a barrier from the cold of the window and the warmth of your home.

You might even consider a programmable thermostat for your existing heating system. With a programmable thermostat you can allow for colder temperatures when away or when sleeping than the times you’re alert and moving. Something as simple as this can decrease your annual heating expenses by 5-15 percent.

Change the air filter in your furnace once a month. Air filters prevent unnecessary dirt from entering your furnace and allow clean air to come through. If enough air is not allowed to pass through the filter, your furnace will work twice as hard trying to keep up with the heating process. Keep all ducts free of obstructions allowing the air to completely fill your home. Simple deflectors can reroute air if you must have some obstruction around the heating vent supplying the heat to your room.
Humidifiers can help as well. Moist air inside the home creates a humid effect making your home warmer. If you do not have a humidifier handy you can simply wash your clothes or dishes or water plants to add moisture to the air. If you have a dishwasher let your dishes air dry with the door slightly open to add moisture to the air.

When cooking you can also help contribute to saving on your heating expenses. Use the lowest heat setting necessary to heat the food. Try to keep the cooking container comparative to the size of the element for range top cooking. Cover pans to cook faster with the heat available. Use the microwave for reheating when necessary. Use a crock-pot instead of the stove if possible.

You might even try reevaluating your actual living space. If you have a spare bedroom you don’t use but occasionally is there really a need to heat it full time? Try closing off the vent to the areas you don’t use or don’t have to have the warmest possible temperature. You are reducing the amount of space your furnace needs to heat.

If you have kids minimize the in and out of the house routine. Keeping the doors closed more than they are open is sure to eliminate extra heating expenses. Also make sure all windows are firmly closed and not inched up even the slightest.

By simply doing simple evaluations and taking simple precautions you might find that your energy bill is going to be less of a worry than you initially thought. Your winter will be less worrisome financially and more cozy for you and your family. And since you probably will be spending a lot more time in the home with your family wouldn’t it be nice to be able to enjoy the time than to dampen the mood with unnecessary worry if preventable?

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