Save on Heating Costs

Shopping Savings
on November 17, 2002

Keeping warm costs a pretty penny. An average American household spends about $750 on heating each winter, but you can lower that bill with a few easy steps:

Lower your thermostat. Every degree you lower the thermostat saves 3 percent on your heating bill. Set it at 68 degrees during the day and layer your clothing to keep warm. At night, lower it to 62 degrees. When you’re away for more than four hours, set it at 58. For about $30, a programmable thermostat automatically can make these changes for you.

Use fans properly. Ventilating fans, such as in bathrooms and kitchens, can pull out a whole houseful of warm air and needed humidity in just one hour, so run these sparingly. However, use reversible ceiling fans to push warmer air downward without creating any draft.

Protect and use windows properly. Remove screens and open south-facing drapes to increase solar warmth by 40 percent during the day. At night, 16 percent of your heat can escape through unprotected windows. Consider insulating drapes and be sure to close them nightly.

Eliminate leaks. Check insulation around every border in your house: from exterior and basement walls; to ceilings and attics; to floors and crawl spaces where up to 30 percent of heat can escape. Plug or repair all holes, leaks, or gaps in exterior walls, especially around pipes, ducts, outlets, and vents. Caulking and weather-stripping can cut heating bills by up to 10 percent.

Maintain your heating system. Keep your furnace clean, lubricated, and properly adjusted. Clean or replace the filter regularly. If your furnace is more than 15 years old and unreliable, a new, energy-efficient model could cut heating bills by $100 a year.

Use the fireplace wisely. An open fireplace damper is equivalent to leaving a 48-inch window wide open. Inspect the damper to ensure a tight fit and keep it closed when its not being used. Caulk leaks around the hearth and use tempered glass doors to reduce heat loss when the fireplace isn’t being used.

Heat only what you have to. Close off heating to rooms and areas that don’t need it.

Arrange your house to keep heat in. Use filled bookcases, large decorative area rugs, tapestries, or fabric wall hangings to act as insulation. Cover floors with carpet and a good pad to reduce heat transfer and to keep bare feet warm.

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