Few things conjure up the image of holiday festivities better than snow. For many of us, a few flurries may have covered your area with a thick blanket since October.
Although pretty, snow also accompanies very cold weather, which means you have to face the challenge of keeping yourself warm—without breaking the bank on your heating bills.
Higher Heating Bills for 2012-2013 Winter
According to projections released by the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, in the heating bills will rise 20 percent for heating oil customers, 15 percent for natural gas customers, 13 percent for propane customers and 5 percent for electricity customers. These numbers represent a seemingly dramatic increase, but keep in mind that we had a very mild winter last year, where relatively low amounts of heating oil were consumed per household, which might account for the projected rises.
Still, if you're concerned with saving money on your home's heating bills for this winter, your home heating practices need to come under scrutiny.
One of the best ways to handle runaway heating bills is to install a programmable thermostat. These handy tools can be set to shut off heating during the day. This is great for homes that will be unoccupied during school and working hours, or if you’re planning on leaving for a vacation. For every degree you set your thermostat back over eight hours, you’ll save about 1 percent on your heating bill each year, says Good Housekeeping. Programmable thermostats make sure you won’t have to remember to manually set your household temperature at certain times of the day.
If only a few rooms in your house are occupied at any given time, space heaters can help cut back on heating bill costs by warming a smaller area and not the whole house. For example, the entire basement floor of my house is more like a storage area, so heating that section would be a waste.
However, do your research before deciding to invest in multiple space heaters. Aside from the cost of the heater itself, the savings from using them may be negligible compared to a gas furnace.
"If you have a decent sized house and keep most of it fairly cool while moving a small space heater around to keep only yourself warm, then you might save money," Allison Bailes concluded in her article for Energy Vanguard. If you need to heat a large room or multiple rooms, your savings will be stunted. Take into account the cost of spaces heaters as well.
There are several things you want to look for when buying a space heater. Consider the size of the space it will have to heat, as well as overall performance, durability and safety options. Good Housekeeping has a handy video that compares a range of space heaters to see how they stack up.
Do not use your oven to warm your home. In addition to being an inefficient use of energy, this may prove to be unsafe due to carbon monoxide and fire safety issues. Only items that are intended to be used for heating the home should be used for that purpose.
Home Energy Audits
In order to find out where heat and energy are literally slipping through the cracks, a home energy audit will likely be necessary. These inspections will look at everything from your doors to your insulation. You can have one done by a professional, or do a walk-through yourself. If you don't feel comfortable poking around in crawlspaces, calling a professional in might be best.
Most of these tips call for a home upgrade/repair or the purchase of new appliances; this is one where you have to spend money to save in the long run.
Hopefully these tips will help stay warm and have a safe winter.
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