I hope you didn’t get too used to the weather last winter. More importantly, I hope your budget didn’t get too used to last year’s heating costs, when unusually high temperatures led to the lowest demand for heating oil and natural gas in 25 years.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, you should expect to see the cost to heat your home rise significantly this winter, due to a combination of increased prices and decreased temperatures. Natural gas homes should expect to spend about 22 percent more than they did last year, while homes favoring heating oil could see an increase of nearly 40 percent.
Luckily, knowing that your heating costs will be significantly higher than last year means you have time to start taking active steps to offset those increases.
A programmable thermostat can save you approximately ten percent on heating and cooling every year. Even if you don’t have a programmable thermostat, you can make cost-saving changes manually each day, including dropping the temperature at night or when no one’s home.
Insulate, insulate, insulate
Your home heating efforts become much more efficient when you cut down on drafts and air leaks. Simply taking a couple hours to apply weatherstripping to your doors and windows can make a massive difference. Applying clear, plastic shrink film over your windows and caulking small leaks are other inexpensive ways to keep the heat in and the cold out.
Let the sunlight in
Once your windows are properly insulated, make sure you leave those curtains open on sunny days to take advantage of natural heating from the sun. Just be sure to close the curtains back up once the dark sets in.
Get a tune-up
Make sure your furnace is in top, working condition before the temperatures really start to plummet. Preventative maintenance can make your system more efficient, and reduce the chances of a much more expensive breakdown later.
When in doubt, wear a sweater
Well, at least that’s what my dad always used to say. It’s true though (said the now-adult man begrudgingly) – if you’re willing to keep the temperature low (not dangerously so, mind you) and make up the difference by wearing heavier clothing around the house, you can save a pretty significant amount of money.