5 Steps You Can Take Now to Reduce Your Winter Heating Bills

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Most Americans cringe at the thought of opening their heating bills in the winter.

Staring at a $250 bill can inspire you to act. You can immediately turn down the thermostat, wear sweaters, open your south facing windows during the day, and much more to reduce the amount of energy you use. However, to have the largest impact on your future heating bills, you should begin to act now.

You should start with your heating ducts and insulation

Get up in your attic or down in your basement or crawl space to inspect your air ducts. Look for heavy black smudges around duct joints and in your insulation. This could be dust, which would indicate you have an air leak and are wasting energy by pumping hot air into spaces you don’t want to heat. Repair the duct leaks with metal backed tape that is available at most hardware stores.

Take a look at your insulation. Do you have enough insulation and is it located in the right places?

Don’t forget air ducts and water pipes. Consider applying an insulating blanket to air ducts located in cold spaces. If you have water pipes that run under the house or even worse, in the attic, you should cover them with piping insulation.

If your hot water heater is not insulated, put an insulating blanket around it. Hot water blankets are available at most hardware stores.

You can find out more about insulation and home sealing here.

Seal your home

Heat that escapes through leaks around doors, windows and other areas is wasted money. Here are some areas that you can inspect and seal if necessary:

  • Inspect around your door openings. If you detect leaks, install door sweeps or caulk leaks as necessary.
  • Apply seals to electrical outlets located on exterior walls. These inexpensive gaskets are easy to install and inexpensive. Just be sure to turn off power to the outlet before installing the gasket.
  • Check for gaps and leaks around all of your windows. Once again, an inexpensive tube of caulk or a roll of weather stripping can save you a lot of money in the coming months.
  • Swap out your window screens with storm windows. If you don’t have or can’t afford storm windows, you could apply inexpensive plastic film to windows instead.

Have an afternoon of fall cleaning

Clean your vents and registers. Make sure they are not being blocked. The better the airflow, the more efficient your heating system will work. While you are cleaning, go ahead and tackle the air intake to your furnace and replace the air filter (you should replace air filters monthly). Ensure that nothing is blocking the air to your furnace as well.

Don’t forget your ceiling fans. While you are cleaning the blades to ensure efficient air flow, reverse the direction the fan turns so that it is blowing downwards. You want the fan to move the hot air from the ceiling back down to your level, where you want it most. With most fans, this means you want the motor to turn in a clockwise direction.

Have your heating system inspected

This is the perfect time to have your heating system inspected and maintained by a professional. Your inspector will ensure the system is operating at peak efficiency and will perform any maintenance or repairs that could prevent your system from failing when you need it most.

Consider your fuel costs now

If you use fuel oil or propane, the late summer is often the cheapest time of the year to buy fuel. Shop around by calling several suppliers and have your tanks filled before the price of fuel goes up.

Don’t forget that you can prevent spikes in your energy costs by entering into a bill leveling program with your local utility. Payment leveling plans even out your monthly bills by averaging your estimated energy use over a year. If you plan on living in your home for at least a year, you should consider this option.

Act now

Don’t wait until high winter energy bills arrive before you make changes to save money. While the temperatures are still warm, take steps to seal your home, maintain your heating system, and reduce your energy use.

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