As the temperatures outside start to drop, our heating bills naturally move in the opposite direction. Winter weather has a way of sneaking up on us. And hefty bills can sneak up on us, too, if we’re not paying attention.
Thankfully, saving on energy costs may only require a few small adjustments to a home. Staying warm without losing money to the heating bill is often easier than you might think. Read on for some of our favorite winter energy-saving tips.
Before we start with the best ways to save money while staying warm, let’s talk about how much the average heating bill is expected to increase this year as the weather cools off. According to estimates from the Energy Information Administration, nearly half of U.S. households that heat primarily with natural gas will spend 30% more than they spent last winter on average.
Households that heat primarily with propane will spend 54% more, houses that heat primarily with heating oil will spend 43% more, and those that heat with electricity will spend 6% more. With average home heating costs already landing between $500 and $1,500, any increase can be a budget-buster, let alone such a significant increase.
So, let’s talk about some of the best ways to stay warm without breaking the bank next.
If there’s one winter energy-saving tip that matters more than the rest, it’s checking your attic insulation and window and door sealing. Even seemingly small air leaks and drafts can quickly steal the heat from inside of your home.
As a result, your heating system has to work harder, wears down faster, and costs more to keep you comfortable. Thankfully, sealing most leaky areas is easy and affordable. Energy Star’s DIY Guide to Sealing and Insulating will guide you through the steps and benefits.
If you have an unused bedroom or two, close the heating vents and doors. This way, the heat is pushed into the rooms you use, rather than being distributed across the whole house.
Those rooms will get significantly colder, but with the doors closed, it won’t matter.
And there’s no sense in paying to keep empty rooms comfortable.
Thick wool or fuzzy, slipper-style socks help trap the heat in your body. Our heads, hands, and feet lose the most heat. But most of us aren’t comfortable walking around with gloves on while we’re working from home or putting together dinner.
Instead, thick socks won’t distract from the function of your feet and they’ll keep you both warmer and more comfortable. Throw on a wool or knit hat if you feel compelled to, but with the thicker socks, you may not feel like you need it anymore.
Make this step even more budget-friendly by picking up cost-effective winter garb at a local thrift store or grabbing a bundle of yarn and making your own fuzzy socks.
Most of us have a higher threshold for slightly cooler temperatures than we might realize. Turning down the thermostat during the day while the sun is up, even if it’s only by a few degrees, can help lower our energy bills.
Throw on your fuzzy socks, brew a cup of coffee or tea, and open the blinds in the rooms where the sun is shining, and you’ll likely find that the difference is only in your heating costs, not your level of comfort.
If you don’t already have one, you can find a microwave-safe hot water bottle for less than $10 at your local pharmacy, Walmart, or Target. Some you fill with water before heating, and others come prefilled with heatable gel. Both styles are easy to use and provide comfort and warmth.
Heating pads have long been boasted as both a way to keep warm and a way to ease sore muscles. After a long, cold day, we often find ourselves tensed up and our muscles stiff. Placing a heating pad under your blanket or behind your back is a great way to warm up and de-stress.
When the weather drops, most of us need little other reason to stay at home. Save even more money this winter by cooking and baking at home, rather than going out to dinner or picking up takeout. When you’re done, turn the oven off and leave the door open.
Depending on the size of your home, it may only warm the kitchen up for a bit, but it’ll feel nice, and you’ll enjoy the residential heat from a source you’ve already paid for.
Now that you’ve got a plate of delicious homemade goodies to enjoy, fuzzy socks, a warm drink, and a hot water bottle or heating pad, all that’s left to do is get cozy on the couch. Grab a big blanket, turn on the TV, and revel in your cozy living room with your loved ones.