It is no secret that energy prices have skyrocketed over the last few years and that it's a big part of every homeowner's budget, especially those that live in colder climates.
Now that we're at the start of winter, there are some fairly easy and inexpensive things you can do to save additional money and conserve energy.
Most people assume that turning back the thermostat will save them lots of money on heating costs. However, the key is to not turn it too far back. When you are heating a home everything in the house gets warmed as well. So all the furniture, cabinets and other items in the home act as a sponge absorbing heat.
Turning your heat down actually makes your furnace work harder to raise the temperature in your home back to the original temperature. An easy solution is to have a programmable thermostat so you can set the temperature down during the time when you are not home. A difference of no more than 5 degrees is recommended.
One of the easiest things to forget about is closing your fireplace damper, but it's a place where a lot of heat loss can occur in a home.
Proper maintenance is vital to keeping your heating system running as efficiently as possible. Make sure that you have your heating system cleaned and inspected at least once a year if you have oil heat and at least every two years if you are using gas as a fuel source. During the heating season make sure that your filters are changed regularly.
Make sure all your doors and windows are sealed tightly, otherwise add weather stripping and caulking. Be sure to check for drafts coming from the interior door leading to your garage.
If your home is not cooled by a central air system and you are using window air conditioners make sure that all the gaps between the window and exterior have been filled. This is a popular spot for air to escape.
Adding additional insulation to your attic, basement and outside walls is a low cost improvement and can be easily done either with insulation bats or with blown in cellulose.
If you have furniture or draperies blocking your vents you will drastically cut the efficiency of the heating system.
Make sure you keep your baseboard, radiators and registers dust and dirt free, because this will only drain the efficiency of your heating system. If your home has a forced hot air heating system it is easy to accumulate dust and debris.
After taking a shower make sure the bath fan does not stay on longer than necessary. This is an opportunity for heat to get sucked out of your home.
In most homes the water temperature set on a water heater is between 130-145 degrees. Setting the temperature back to 120 degree is more than enough for a hot shower. It is estimated that by reducing your water temperature by 5 degrees you can reduce heating costs by 5%. You can also save up to 10% of your total water heating costs by buying a water heater wrap, which costs approximately $25.