High home heating bills can really pack a punch into our budgets each winter. They consistently pose a special challenge for people who rely on fixed incomes or live paycheck to paycheck. If you’d like to reduce your heating bills, consider giving some of these free or low cost tricks a try.
Start by learning to love socks. If your feet are cold, your whole body will feel cold, so make a point of wearing socks around the house in the winter. The next step if you’re still feeling cold, bundle up in a sweater or a blanket rather than cranking up the heat.
Next, tap into the heat that’s there anyway. There are plenty of activities you do around the house that generate warmth, such as cooking a meal or taking a shower. When you shower, keep the bathroom door open so steam spreads to other rooms, and don’t turn a ventilation fan on; it will rapidly remove the warm air you’re hoping to keep around.
Lower your thermostat. You won’t likely notice a huge difference if you turn it down just a few degrees, a move that can shave 5 percent to 10 percent off your heating bill. It’s especially wise to turn down the heat whenever you leave your home for several hours. You’ll also want to watch your water heater. It’s also not likely to be noticeable if you turn down the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees, from about 140 degrees.
Consider a programmable thermostat. They cost between $30 and $100, but it’s money you’re sure to make back over the course of a year, because your heating bills will drop. A programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the heat on a predetermined schedule, so you can lower the heat when you’re not home or when you’re sleeping.
Don’t let your heat escape unnecessarily. Keep your doors and windows shut when the heat is on. If your home has a fireplace that you aren’t using, be sure the flue is closed and glass doors are in place to minimize heat loss. In addition to those bathroom ventilation fans, turn kitchen ventilation fans off when they aren’t needed.
Finally, light a candle. Not for warmth, but for the purpose of doing a little sleuth work. Hold the flame near windows, doors and light fixtures and look for smoke moving in a horizontal direction. If you see it, that means you’ve spotted an air leak, and it likely means heat is escaping your home easily. To solve that problem, install some low-cost caulking or weather-stripping, or consider adding some insulating material.