Sustainable Saturday - 5 Low Cost Ways to Reduce Winter Heating Bills

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Guest post by Joshua Lloyd from Symhome.

The temperature is dropping and many are looking for ways to control their winter heating costs.  There are some easy, low cost strategies that everyone can use to help control their winter heating bills.  These are my top 5 tips that even the not so handy homeowners can use to keep the heating cost at bay:

1. Open the blinds: Some of the coldest days of the year are the clearest and brightest, so let the sun shine in and help heat your home.  There are homes designed to utilize the sun’s rays as their primary heating source (Passive Solar), so there is no reason your home can’t take advantage of this free heat source.  Just be sure at night to close the blinds to retain the heat in the home and help reduce drafts.

2. Add layers: Not only am I surprised by the number of people that live in complete darkness during the day, but how many want to keep their home warm enough to wear shorts & a t-shirt.  By wearing clothing appropriate to the weather outside can greatly increase your comfort and allow you to reduce the temperature in your home, thus saving you money.

3. Set back your temperature: The rule of thumb is you can save between 1-3% for every degree that you set your thermostat back for an 8 hour period of time while you are at work and sleeping.  The Department Of Energy estimates that you can save up to $180 a year with this simple strategy.  You can make this even easier by installing a programmable thermostat that you can have automatically adjust the temperature in the home and can have it start to heat the home before you wake up in the morning or get home from work so you do not have to contend with the cold temperatures.

4. Maintain your heating equipment: Servicing your heating units and replacing filters regularly can boost efficiency by 3-10% according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).  It is recommended to have oil-fired boilers cleaned and tuned annually, and gas systems, every two years.  Not only will regularly servicing your oil and gas fired heating equipment help improve efficiency, but ensure safety if your heating contractor performs combustion testing, in the hopes they catch high levels of carbon monoxide.

5. Seal those leaks: Excessive air leakage into the home can waste up to 25% of your homes heating and cooling costs.  Installing foam gaskets behind outlet and switch covers on exterior walls is the simplest strategy.  Sealing the gaps around window & door trim is another easy cost effective way to reduce infiltration and reduce drafts.  However sealing those air leaks in the attic is where you will get the most bang for your buck as you will trap the warm air in the home as it rises.

If you are a handy homeowner and looking for other ways around your home to conserve energy and reduce your heating and cooling costs,  follow my blog series Kill’n a Hog….an Energy Hog as my family reduces the energy consumption of our 1960’s home.

Joshua has a degree in architecture and is a LEED Accredited Professional that has worked in the design and construction industry for over 10 years, focusing his efforts on energy efficiency and building science. He has organized multiple events in Ohio to give young designers the opportunity to learn about “green” home design and produce actual projects. He was also a key player in Ohio’s first LEED for Homes Platinum project. Joshua is also a certified Building Analyst through the Building Performance Institute and performs home energy audits, assisting home owners in reducing their energy usage.  

You can follow his blog Symhome here.  You can also follow him on facebook and twitter

Note:  Some of the links referenced in this post are my referral links.  You can read Saving Family Green's Material Connection Disclosure Policy here.


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