It’s simple: the less energy you use, the less you spend on bills. But you don’t have to give up comfort to use less energy. If you follow the tips below, you’ll not only save energy (and money), but you’ll also stay warm and comfortable all winter.
1. Set the temperature to 68 degrees
For every degree below 70 that you turn down your thermostat, you’ll save 5% on your heating costs. Just lowering the temperature by 2 degrees, from 70 to 68, will save you 10% on your energy bills.
Also, DON’T turn off the heat while you’re gone. It takes more energy to get your house back to a comfortable temperature, and if the temperature falls below freezing, your pipes could burst. Instead, just turn the temperature down a few degrees.
2. Spend money on a smart or programmable thermostat
Programming your thermostat lets you turn it down when you’re at work or asleep to save energy and turn it up before you get home to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. Most programmable thermostats let you set different temperatures and times to fit your schedule. We recommend smart thermostats like the Nest because they can cut your heating costs by 10 to 12 percent.
3. Turn on your fan
If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, you should flip it when you turn on the heat to make the blades spin in the opposite direction. This makes the fan create an updraft, which pushes the hot air that rises to the ceiling back down into the room.
4. Open blinds and curtains during the day and close them at night.
During the day, open your windows to let in the sun’s warmth. At night, make sure that all of the windows are covered so that you don’t lose heat through the glass and get drafts.
5. Move things away from the vents.
Look around the house quickly and make sure that none of the vents are blocked. Find a way to move your furniture, at least for the winter, if they are. This will make sure that every room warms up as much as it can.
6. Turn the heat on in the rooms you use most.
When it comes to making sure each room gets the most heat possible, closing the doors and vents to rooms that aren’t being used will help the heating system focus on the rooms that matter.
7. Be careful with fireplaces that burn wood
It may be warm near the crackling fire, but all the heat going up through the chimney pulls cold air into the house in other places. Make sure your fireplace has a glass front and that the flue is closed when you’re not using it. This will help keep most of the warm air in your home from going up the chimney when the fire is out.
8. Seal vents and stop leaks around doors and windows
Check how tight the air ducts are, and if you see any holes, fill them with insulation. Check your doors and windows while you’re at it because they could be wasting 10% of your energy costs. Put weather-stripping or caulk around draft doors and windows to stop these leaks. Electrical outlets in exterior walls and gaps around water pipes where they go through walls are also very common ways for heat to escape from your home. Check these parts of your home for cracks and seal them up to save even more money on heating.
9. Add more insulation to the ceiling
Looking for a quick way to cut heating loss by 5–25%? Right above your head is where you can find it. If your ceiling isn’t insulated well, it lets warm air out and forces your thermostat to work harder to keep the temperature up. This drives up your heating costs. For the best results, you should think about putting in R-38 insulation.
10. Keep your heating system in good shape
Keep the filter clean and hire a licensed contractor to check your unit. If your unit has been used for 15 years or more, you might want to upgrade it to make it work better.
11. Give wood floors layers
Up to 10% of a home’s heat loss can come from wood floors that aren’t insulated. Carpets and rugs keep rooms warmer. Add a rug or a roll of carpet to keep your feet warm and safe.
12. Switch to a plan with a fixed rate
Plans with variable rates change every month based on how the market is doing. That means that what you pay per therm this month could be more, less, or the same as what you paid last month. On the other hand, fixed rates are locked in and don’t change during the length of your contract, which is usually 6, 12, 18, or 24 months. Fixed rates are lower than variable rates, and having a consistent rate makes it easier to budget for heating your home in the winter.
13. Dress warmly
This is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to save money on your winter gas bills. Most websites about saving energy suggest setting your heater to no more than 70 degrees. If you feel cold when the temperature is below 70 degrees, a light jacket, sweatshirt, long-sleeved shirt, or sweater can help you stay warm without having to turn up the thermostat and use more natural gas.
14. Cut those trees down
Even though it doesn’t have much to do with energy efficiency, sick trees and branches near your house can be dangerous when the weather is bad. High winds and ice can make branches and trees fall to the ground, break windows, and walls, or even land on your roof. Aside from the damage to your house, this could also hurt other people.
Look around your yard and house for signs of dead trees and branches before the weather gets too bad or before the first snow. You can get rid of what you can on your own, or you can call a reputable tree service to take care of the problem.
Here are some things you can look for to tell if a tree or branch is dead:
- During the spring and summer, no leaves were on the trees or branches.
- Some branches still have dead leaves on them, while others are already bare.
- Exposed wood where the bark has fallen off or where it has rotted and fallen apart.
- Large fungi growing on parts of the trunk or branches
So, there you have it: a guide to making it through the winter while staying warm and not worrying about money. This winter, if you need help getting your natural gas running, send us a message.