Every winter brings with it the disappointing prospect of the heating bill. With Canadian winters always being so cold (and seem to be starting early this year here in Alberta), it's important to consider the impact on your heating bill.
But that doesn't mean that you can't do what you can to reduce your overall costs. Even as you plan for higher costs each year, you can work to keep things as cost-efficient as possible so you aren't paying more than you have to.
Here are 10 ways that you can reduce your heating bill:
- By setting your thermostat to 20 degrees, you can reduce your heating bill by 5% to 10%. It might seem a little bit chilly, you might be surprised at how you can get used to it. After all, once it 25 degrees in the summer, you wish it could be 20 degrees again. 20 degrees really isn't too bad, and it can save you a decent amount of money, especially the colder it gets.
- Reducing your heat by 4 to 5 degrees at night or when you are out of the house can save 15% on heating costs. There's no sense in heating an empty house. And, at night, you can actually benefit from the lower temperature setting. Studies indicate that you will sleep better when you are in a cooler room. The easiest to do this is with a programmable thermostat like Nest (which can save you money in a lot of ways). That way, you can program the heat according to your regular schedule, so that you don't forget to turn it down.
- With all this lowering of temperatures you might be concerned about still being comfortable. Before heading to the thermostat, try putting on socks, a sweater, or a blanket. Adding layers is fairly easy, and you might be more comfortable anyway. Cuddle up with a cozy blanket while watching TV, or put on a pair of thick socks before bed. Where sweaters regularly, and you'll be more comfortable, even with the temperature set at 20 degrees.
- Turn your water heater down to 50 degrees instead of 60 degrees. If you can’t keep the back of your hand under hot water coming out of your sink, it’s being heated more than necessary. Plus, if you have kids, you'll have greater peace of mind, knowing they won't be scalded.
- If you have an older, inefficient water heater, you can insulate it with a water heater jacket. These aren't that expensive, and the cost can be quickly recouped from your monthly savings.
- Reduce hot water use by using a low flow shower head and setting your washing machine to use cold water. These are tactics that can help you avoid using your heat to boost water temperature. The less hot water you use, the lower your heating bill will be.
- Keep windows and doors closed so that heat does not escape the house. For the same reason, only run bathroom and kitchen fans when needed since they will blow the warm air out of your house. You'd be surprised at how often the warm out leaks outside because you leave the door open while you just run next door for “a couple minutes” or because you have your window cracked.
- Let the sun in during the daytime, especially in south facing windows, to heat up the home. Close blinds and curtains at night as it adds an extra layer of insulation to the window. Not only can letting in the sun warm you, but it will also help you improve your mood, fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter months.
- Do you feel a draft in your house? You can check for leaks around windows and doors by holding a candle flame along the frames. If the flame flickers or smoke blows sideways, you’ll know there is a leak that might be able to be fixed with caulking or weather stripping. Don't forget about your outlets, either. These are often sources of air leaks.
- Have your furnace inspected and tuned every one to two years. This will ensure that it’s running safely and efficiently. In between servicing, check the filter to make sure is clean.
These are fairly simple steps that you can take to reduce your heating bill. However, just because they are simple, doesn't mean they are ineffective. You might be surprised at how much money you can save each month with a little effort.