Sunday, February 11, 2018

10 Easy Ways to Lower Winter Heating Bills

In 2008, my family went on a year long experience to try lowering our heating bills by %20 thinking it was a lofty goal we may not meet. a slew of Greenzillas swore up and down that the only solution was to trash everything that came new with our house (and was working great) and replace it by buying new top of the time super energy efficient everything. Replacing working and still fairly new things didn't seem very eco friendly. Instead we focused on changing old habits and a few inexpensive home improvements.

And we beat our goal by reducing our use and bill by 32%.

10 years later and we’re still using less energy to heat our condo than comparable energy efficient rated homes in our area – and we’re toasty warm doing it too!

10 Super Simple Hacks That Keep Your House Warm and Your Heat Bill Low


10 Easy Ways to Lower Winter Heating Bills
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1 Double check your utility meter reading against your bill every month. If there is one thing you need to do, this is it. I found there were months my utility company estimated my energy use instead of reading the meter. They always estimated my use extremely high and charged me for it. It is a pain but  taking the trouble to double check my meter reading has cut my utility bill almost in half.

2. Find any air leaks around doors, windows, outlets, pipes, etc by lighting incense or a candle and carefully running it around the edges (don’t burn yourself or your house!) The smoke/flame flicker if there a draft. Drafts equal air leaks that suck the warm heated air in your house outside (and vice versa in the summer.)

3. Seal any and all air leaks in your home around your doors and windows. This was my biggest DIY during our Project and a cheap one at that.
  • Add door sweeps and draft blockers to drafty doors I put a metal door sweep on my exterior doors. I also had drafts coming from under the closets on an outside wall and added a removable double door draft stopper to those doors and to my unheated utility room. I rely on these products so much I have no problem recommending them to you (and using my affiliate links.)
  • Add adhesive window weather stripping to the bottom of your window sashes and around indoor attic hatches. One of my neighbors was about to replace all of the double pained windows in his condo until gave him this eight dollar tip 
  • Check gaps around outdoor outlets, faucets etc. and caulk if needed.

  • If you can’t replace your drafty windows consider using a window insulation kit on all of your windows. I had these on all of the windows in my first apartment because when the wind blew the windows were so leaky the frame rattled!
  • Check if the garage door leaks. This is one of the most overlooked areas of detecting and sealing air leaks in the home.
How to seal heating air leaks from a garage door

4 Use spray foam in a can to seal the air leaks around pipes on outside walls of your house. I recommend using Great Stuff Insulating Foam Sealant because it sets and hardens within a day or two. The other brand I tried didn’t set at all even after a couple of weeks. Some areas to check:

  • Gaps along the baseboards of exterior walls 

  •  Around electrical outlets – if the gap is larger than an insulated gasket can handle

  • Around switch plates – if the gap is larger than an insulated gasket can handle

  •  Around permanent wall- or window-mounted air conditioners
  • Cracks in cement basement or utility room floors

  •  Look for gaps around pipes and wires, foundation seals, and mail slots in exterior walls. Under my kitchen sink was the worst one!

  • Look for gaps around furnaces ducts and dryer vents

How to seal heating duct air leaks the easy way
This is an example of how my builder used spray foam insulation to seal the heating ducts in my unheated utility room


5. Close the dampener on unused fireplaces and consider sealing it further with a chimney balloon blocker with it is not in use.

6 Install a programmable thermostat and use it! This is the secret to our success and it is pretty darn painless even though we telecommute. It is also the number one suggestion people reject with a ton of excuses. I suggest buying a preprogrammed programmable thermostat like mine because it is easy to change the program to suit your tastes. We changed the program to 72 in the morning, 68 during the workday (our office is upstairs when it is warmer,) 74 in evening, 65 when we are sleeping.

If your family’s schedule varies, consider a Nest learning thermostat.

7. Shut doors to unoccupied rooms. This keeps the heat in the room and not floating out into the colder hallway or into unheated utility room.

8. Put an extra blanket and flannel sheets on your bed and  dress in layers and for the weather. Yes, I realize it’s a thing that some people wear shorts in the snow but I can’t help you lower your bill if you insist on heating your house accordingly.

9. Open south facing drapes to heat a room although this may conflict if you have leaky windows. I was surprised how well this works even on gray days in overcast Ohio!

10. Check your attic insulation and add to it if possible.  Before adding more wall insulation, check if your house is wrapped in vapor barrier first (also called by the brand name Tyvek.) This might be a less expensive option than reinsulating your house.

What do you do to keep your house warm and heat bill low?

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