Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Stay Cozy and Save Money: Homeowner’s Guide to Efficient Heating

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As the temperature drops, homeowners’ wallets start to freeze up with rising heating costs. This winter natural gas households can expect a 25% increase compared to last year, while those heating with electricity can expect a 6.5% hike, and those using oil or propane may face a 54% surge.

At AGCU, we care about sharing the best practical advice for homeowners to save money, no matter if they’ve used our home loan services or not. So, without any further ado let’s take a look at ten simple, practical ways to save money and be kinder to the environment this winter!

1. Stay Warm with Cozy Home Additions:

  • Add rugs to flooring in bathrooms and other rooms to increase insulation.
  • Dress in layers. Wear warm sweaters, socks, and flannel sheets to keep body heat inside.
  • Incorporate blankets and throws into your decor to add extra layers of warmth, and use extra blankets and bedding for extra warmth at night.
  • Use draft stoppers at the bottom of doors to prevent warm air from escaping and cold air from entering

2. Maintain Heating Equipment for Optimal Performance:

  • Regularly clean or replace air filters (typically every 3 months) to improve indoor air quality and circulation.
  • Check the pilot light on your furnace regularly to ensure it is lit and functioning properly.
  • Keep the area around your furnace and other heating equipment clear and free of clutter to allow for proper air circulation.
  • Regularly inspect and clean your chimney, flue or vent pipe to prevent blockages and ensure efficient operation.
  • Check your ductwork for any leaks or damages and have them repaired as needed to prevent energy waste.
  • Make sure your heating equipment is regularly maintained by a professional to ensure it is operating at peak efficiency, and address any issues promptly to avoid costly repairs in the future.

3. Adjust Thermostat for Energy Efficiency:

  • Change the temperature by 7-10 degrees (e.g. 68°F) when you’re home and awake and to a lower temperature (e.g. 60°F) when you’re away or sleeping..
  • Use a programmable thermostat to set temperature changes based on schedule. Try not to override your thermostat’s program, as this can reduce its effectiveness.
  • Don’t turn the temperature down too low when leaving for extended periods to avoid frozen pipes.

4. Furnace Maintenance and Upgrades:

  • Schedule a professional inspection to clean or upgrade your furnace. Regular maintenance is necessary to keep a furnace system working efficiently and safely.
  • Switching to a newer, high-efficiency system can improve efficiency by up to 98%.
  • Upgrades to the furnace system, such as a programmable thermostat or a zone control system, can improve energy efficiency.

5. Take Advantage of Utility Company Services and Tax Credits:

  • Contact your utility company for a free home energy check-up.
  • Participate in energy-saving programs offered by the utility company, such as peak-time rebates, where you may receive incentives for reducing energy consumption during high-demand periods.
  • Take advantage of smart-thermostat programs that allow the utility company to automatically adjust your home’s temperature during off-peak hours to save energy and lower your costs.
  • Check if your state or local government offers energy efficiency tax credits or rebates for HVAC upgrades or weatherization measures.

6. Seal Windows for Better Insulation:

  • Detect air leaks with a candle test.
  • Install window seals or sealing gaskets around the edges of the window to improve insulation and reduce air leaks.
  • Consider adding window insulation foam, which can be sprayed into the gaps around windows for a more comprehensive seal.
  • If you have old windows, consider upgrading to energy-efficient windows that have a higher R-value, which measures the window’s resistance to heat flow.
  • Apply a clear silicone caulk around the exterior of the window to create a seal that will last for many years.
  • Use draft stoppers to seal the bottom of windows, which can prevent cold air from entering the room through the bottom of the window.

7. Maximize Natural Light and Use Insulated Curtains:

  • Open shades during sunlight hours to utilize natural heat.
  • Close curtains at night to retain heat and prevent cold air from entering.
  • Consider using insulated curtains for even better insulation.
  • Consider installing a skylight or adding more windows to rooms that receive direct sunlight, to take advantage of the natural warmth from the sun.
  • When selecting curtains or blinds, choose those made from insulating materials, such as heavy cotton or silk, to trap heat inside the room.
  • Make sure that curtains or blinds fit snugly against the window frame and are not gaping, to reduce the amount of cold air that enters the room.

8. Use Space Heaters for Targeted Heating:

  • Use plug-in space heaters to heat isolated areas instead of entire heating zones.
  • Place heaters in open areas and keep away from flammables and children/pets.
  • Close vents in unoccupied rooms to reduce heating output.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets with multiple space heaters.
  • Don’t use extension cords with space heaters, as they can overheat and cause fires.
  • Don’t leave space heaters unattended or running overnight.
  • Consider using space heaters with a thermostat to maintain a consistent room temperature.
  • Turn off space heaters before leaving the room or going to sleep.

9. Upgrade to LED Light Bulbs and Unplug Devices:

  • Switch to LED light bulbs for energy savings and longer lifespan.
  • Unplug devices that are not in use to reduce energy consumption.
  • Look for Energy Star certified LED bulbs to ensure you’re getting a high-quality, energy-saving option.
  • Choose LED bulbs with a warm color temperature to create a cozy, inviting atmosphere in your home.
  • Don’t forget to replace any outdoor lighting with LED options, too.
  • Consider using a smart power strip to control multiple devices at once and save energy.
  • Turn off lights when leaving a room to conserve energy and reduce your electric bill

10. Adjust Water Heater Temperature for Energy Efficiency:

  • Change the temperature setting of your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Many households have their water heaters set to 140 degrees, which is unnecessarily high and consumes more energy.
  • Reducing the temperature to 120 degrees is safer for skin and easier on heating costs.
  • Consider installing a low-flow showerhead, which can reduce hot water usage and help lower your energy bills.
  • Wrap the tank of your water heater with an insulating blanket to improve its efficiency and reduce heat loss.

Don’t Wait to Weatherproof Your Home!

By following some of our helpful tips, we’re confident you’ll be able to say goodbye to sky-high heating bills and hello to a cozy, environmentally friendly home. By incorporating just a few of the simple solutions outlined in this article, you can make a huge impact on your wallet and the planet.

But let’s be real, being a homeowner is expensive enough, especially when Mother Nature decides to turn up the heat…or turn it off. So don’t let the weather dictate your finances and don’t wait to weatherproof your home! Today’s the day you can start using AGCU’s helpful tips and embrace cost-effective and eco-friendly solutions this winter.

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