With heating costs on the rise, just about every homeowner is looking for ways to reduce his or her energy bill this winter. We’ve come up with six tips that will save you money while keeping you toasty warm—and many won’t cost you a dime.
TACKLE THE OBVIOUS We forget that even simple steps can make a home heat-efficient. For instance, move furniture that blocks heating vents and always be sure to change your furnace filter every two months—a clogged filter is like sucking air through a cotton ball. When not using your fireplace, close the damper and hearth doors (if you have them) to prevent heat from escaping up the chimney.
LET THE SUNSHINE IN Direct sunlight is the easiest way to heat your home for free. That’s because once the sunlight hits an object, it heats up and emits infrared radiation—a form of radiant heat that gets trapped in your home. To keep more of this heat in rooms, keep your curtains open during the day and close them at night. Floor-length curtains get the best results.
LOOK FOR LEAKS On average, drafts cost $350 a year in increased heating bills. So go for walk around your house with a lit candle. If the flame flickers or goes out around windows, doors or electrical outlets, you have a leak. Just plug them yourself with weather stripping, caulk or expandable foam—it will cost you $40 tops.
RISE TO THE OCCASION Heat goes up, and a poorly insulated attic can increase your heating bill by up to 15%. A common problem is poorly sealed kitchen and bathroom vent holes. If special aluminum duct tape (not the generic stuff found in most stores) isn’t used to seal the vent in the attic, then warm air gets sucked into the attic and cold air is pushed into your home.
GET YOUR DUCTS IN A ROW Up to 40% of heated air is lost through duct leaks, according to Consumers Report. If your ducts are accessible, you can seal them yourself with aluminum tape. But if your ducts are behind walls, a new technology, owned by Aeroseal, sprays microscopic particles of sealant into ducts. Costs start at $2,000, but you’ll shave $250 off your annual heating bill.
BLOW AWAY YOUR TROUBLES Homes built 25 years ago often have inferior or no insulation in the walls. A simple fix is to hire a company to blow insulation into fist-size holes they cut into your walls. The service starts at $2,000 and goes up—depending on the size of your house—but at an approximate savings of $150 per year, your home’s energy bills should drop.