10 Ways to Save on Winter Utility Bills

Family Finances, Living & Spending
on December 17, 2013
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When the weather outside is frightful, hot water and heat are delightful. But when the temperature drops, utilities bills tend to go through the roof. This winter, keep Jack Frost—and unnecessarily high winter utility costs—at bay by making these simple seasonal adjustments.

1. Insulate your attic. Proper insulation is one of the best ways to hang on to your cash. Insulation works, because it physically blocks out the chill and locks in your ideal temperature. Loose fill or spray insulation are efficient choices for insulating an attic space.

2. Prevent air leaks. Blustery winds will do a number on heating costs, but you can seal leaky spaces up yourself. For energy saving success, use quick fixes like sealing wrap for drafty windows, rubber weather stripping for doors, and sealant for holes around pipes entering the home.

3. Program your thermostat. Save up to 15 percent on your heating bill by purchasing a programmable thermostat. You can program different settings to drop the temperature when you are away at work, asleep or even on vacation. Some models even allow you to monitor and adjust temperatures from our own phone. Just make sure that you don’t put these in unusually chilly or bright rooms. It will distort the average reading and take up more energy.

4. Switch bulbs. As simple as a flick of the wrist, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are an easy cost saver. These swirly bulbs last ten times longer than incandescent, lasting through several winters. They also use 1/4 the energy, while still providing bright light.

5. Change your filters. Just like any piece of equipment in your home, your furnace needs to be shown some love. When operating with a dirty filter, the furnace wastes energy, as it works harder to pump air into the home. Nix the dirt and energy waste with a replacement filter.

6. Plug the fireplace. It may be tempting to stage your wood-burning fireplace during the winter, stacked meticulously with fresh firewood. But if you don’t actually use it, plug it up. Chimneys suck the warm air out of your house when left open. A fireplace insert that will act as a plug against drafts is a cost-effective option that seals the chimney, keeping the warm air where it belongs—in your home. Easy to install and running at about $70 to $100, fireplace plugs are a cold weather must-have.

7. Uncover south-facing windows during the day. Harness solar power not through panels, but panes. Leave your south-facing windows uncovered during the day and close the curtains at night. This way you can take advantage of and retain the natural heat of the sun that enters your home.

8. Seal off unused rooms. Closing off that formal sitting room or old office can save you some serious dough. Sealing off rooms prevents heat from going into unused spaces, keeping the rest of your house nice and toasty. Just make sure that the thermostat (or printer, or any other regularly visited item) isn’t located in the sealed off room.

9. Hot water heater blanket. Everyone loves a blanket when it’s cold, and so does your hot water heater. A hot water heater blanket is ideal for older models that leak heat and consequently—savings. Wrap a hot water blanket around the body to retain energy and warm showers.

10. Turn down the temperature of water heater. Don’t get burned by water or your water bill. Turn down your hot water heater to a safe 120 degrees this winter. This safe and cost effective solution will prevent your water heating from working overtime, at the same time preventing scalding and outrageous utility bills.

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