3 ways to reduce heating costs this winter

As temperatures drop and cold weather sets in, heating costs typically rise. You can keep warm without taking a huge hit to your monthly utility budget by taking simple actions that should help drive heating costs down. Here are three things you can do to help reduce your heating bill this winter.

Be “Smart” with the Thermostat

In today’s tech-driven landscape, there are lots of “smart” thermostat options featuring built-in energy-saving and bill-reducing options, like Nest. The Nest Learning Thermostat programs itself, learns what temperature you like and adjusts itself accordingly. It is Energy Star certified and regulates your home temperature with little effort needed on your part. You can monitor it with your smartphone or tablet and it delivers reports on how much energy you’ve saved. Saving energy = cost savings, and independent studies have shown people save an average of 10 to 12 percent on heating bills with Nest.

An optional Nest Temperature Sensor can adjust temperatures in different rooms; it also knows when you’re away from home and turns the thermostat down. Plus, some utility companies will offer rebates or credits for installing a smart thermostat in your home.

If you use a traditional thermostat, a good rule of thumb is to always turn the temperature down at night when you go to bed, as you can use extra blankets to keep warm while sleeping. You should also turn the heat down while you’re away from home. When you are home, keep the thermostat set as low as possible for you to still be comfortable and layer your clothing to stay warm. Once you get used to cranking down the setting, it will start to become a regular routine that should translate to savings on your energy bill.

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Take Advantage of Solar Heat

Solar heat is free and in abundant supply if you have south-facing windows in your home. Whenever possible, open your curtains and blinds to let heat from the sun’s natural light flow into your home and warm it. At night, you’ll want to close the curtains in the absence of the sun, to block any cold resonating from the windows.

Stop Drafts and Seal Leaks

Drafts and leaks around windows and doors can cause a spike in energy usage and heating costs. You can use plastic sheeting around window frames to insulate windows in the cold months or even insulated curtains or drapes to help block out cold air. Use draft-stoppers at the bottoms of exterior doors or patio sliders to keep drafty, cold air at bay. Always check and replace worn weatherstripping and apply caulk where needed around doors and windows, as leaks in improperly sealed frames and fixtures can let cold air in and allow warm air to escape, which will drive up your energy bill. Lastly, be sure to look for chimney leaks and seal them promptly.