Keeping your home warm in the winter should not leave you broke. But with everything costing so much more amid high inflation rates, it is no wonder that people are looking for ways to lower energy bills when possible. Heating accounts for around 40-50% of the energy bills depending on the area you live in, how big your house is, the quality of the insulation in the walls, how old your system is and on how efficiently you use it.
And there are many ways to lower your heating bill this winter and every winter. Some of these cost you nothing but a little change in your behavior and how you use the system. Some might require a small investment, which you should see paid back in lower energy bills.
What Increases Your Heating Bill?
Your heating bills might be the most expensive part of maintaining a comfortable home this winter. While many factors determine how much you are going to spend to stay warm and cozy this year, many are commonly seen throughout our customer base.
Here is a look at some of the most common reasons why heating bills are higher than they should be.
- Seasonal Changes
Obviously, as it gets colder outside, we tend to turn up the heat inside our homes. Just as our cooling costs go up in the summer, our heating costs rise in the winter. Even in Southern California where the winters are relatively mild compared to other parts of the country, evenings in particular can get quite chilly. Sometimes just putting on a hoodie or adding an extra blanket to the bed is enough to stay comfortable without cranking up the heater.
- Thermostat Setting
One of the most common causes of high heating bills is a thermostat that’s set to high. Dial down your thermostat just a few degrees and you might be surprised at how much you can save. About half of our home energy costs comes from heating and cooling our homes. We recommend keeping your thermostat set to 78°F in the summer and 68°F in the winter. In the extreme summer heat and cold winter months, it takes more energy to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. You cannot control the weather, but you can control your thermostat, which has a big effect on your bill. You can expect a 3 percent to 5 percent increase in energy use for every degree you set the thermostat lower in the summer and higher in the winter.
- Inadequate Insulation
If your home is not well-insulated, a lot of your heated air is making it outside through the attic, vents, cracks and holes. It is important to ensure your attic is insulated well and you will likely need a professional to come in and do it for you. Older homes, in particular, are at greatest risk of needing new insulation due to aging, dirt, and pests. It can be expensive to replace or add insulation in your house, but it is definitely a good investment. Inadequate insulation can be a big cause of high heating bills, but adequate insulation can help you save hundreds of dollars on heating each year.
- Poorly Sealed Windows and Doors
One of the most common reasons behind high heating bills, poorly sealed windows and doors happen to every homeowner. It is essential to inspect your windows and doors at least once a year to ensure they are adequately sealed. If you have drafts in your house, locate the drafts and stop them. Caulk around baseboard, windows, and doors or anywhere else air is getting in. Using plastic to cover windows is also an excellent way to stop the cold air from getting in and lower high heating bills, if you cannot replace them. Weatherstripping should also be placed around doorjambs and windowsills, and door sweeps can be added to the bottoms of doors.
- Inefficient Furnace
The average lifespan of a home furnace is 25 years. If the unit is aging, it is time for a replacement. While replacing a furnace has a large upfront cost, replacing a low efficiency unit with a high efficiency unit will save on monthly heating bills.
Routine maintenance prolongs the unit’s life. A professional is able to diagnose worn-out parts, carbon monoxide leaks, and dirt or rust. This maintenance keeps your home properly heated and the energy bill stable.
How to Lower Your Heating Bill
If you want to bring your heating bill down, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the amount of energy you are using in your home.
- Set Your Thermostat to a Lower Temperature
Every degree by which you try to increase the room temperature accounts for more energy usage, which is paid through electricity, gas, or propane bills, depending on what heating system you use. It is estimated that each degree you lower your heating system’s setting could lead to around 3-5% reduction on the heating bill, depending on the type of the system you have, its efficiency, the insulation, and how extreme the weather conditions are.
For multiple degrees down, you may make serious saving on your heating bills with this method. And it does not mean that you have to suffer the cold atmosphere inside. Actually, you may not notice any difference in warmth and comfort levels if you turn the heating thermostat a couple of degrees down.
And for portable space heaters that usually come with multiple heating settings, you can save money by turning them on with the lowest settings, and see if you feel comfortable before you consider putting them on higher temperature settings.
- Install a Programmable Thermostat
Making small changes on the thermostat can make a big difference in lowering your heating bill. You can save as much as 10% a year if you drop your thermostat down 7–10 degrees for eight hours a day.
Turn down the thermostat if you are going to be gone all day. If you want to make your life a lot easier, invest in a smart thermostat. You can program it to make the changes for you (some even let you control them from an app). These units are not very expensive, either.
- Increase Insulation
Whether you need to add weather-stripping around doors or want to upgrade to double-paned windows, taking these steps can increase the insulation in your home and help keep the heat inside. Not only will the added insulation help keep you warm in the winter, it will also help keep you cool in the summer and save on year-round energy costs.
- Open the Curtains
When the sun comes out, open your blinds and let the vitamin D in. The sunlight in your windows can give you some serious heat the old-fashioned way. And if your house is already warm, then the heater will not have to kick on. Just remember to cover the windows to help keep the cold air out once it gets dark.
- Get Your Furnace Serviced
You can ensure your heating system is running at maximum efficiency by having an HVAC technician pay a service call each year before the cold season sets in and check that all your components are functioning properly. Not only will this keep your bills lower, it will help reduce the risk of a breakdown in the dead of winter.
- Consider Alternative Heat Sources
Bundle up in warm clothing and blankets, and use other heat sources like electric blankets, space heaters or a fireplace to give your central heater a break. Wear thick socks and sweaters, or cuddle up under some blankets so that you can stay warm without spending extra money. Keeping your home at a lower temperature and staying warm with layers can help you stay comfortable while also keeping your heating bill down. With the thermostat lowered, the extra laundry will not adversely affect your energy or heating bill.
Choose a Trusted Service Company for an Inspection and Tune-Up
If you have discovered a problem with the home’s HVAC system, think about calling a trusted local service company before you decide against buying. They can complete a thorough inspection, determining the extent of existing issues and looking for any others. If the problem can be fixed with a simple tune-up, buying the house may still be worth it.
And there is always a chance the previous owner simply wasn’t aware of the problem. If there is something wrong with the HVAC system, it never hurts to ask if potential replacement costs will be factored into the cost of the home itself. In any case, the more info you have, the better decisions you can make.
You can always count on the Aire-Tech to keep your home cool. Perhaps you need repairs, new thermostat installation, or preventative maintenance—whatever the HVAC issue is, Aire-Tech is ready to help. If your system needs repair or inspection before summer, call us on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.