10 ways to reduce your heating costs this winter
Heating costs likely account for a large chunk of your electricity bill in the winter. It’s normal. What isn’t, is overpaying because your home is not properly insulated. Here are 10 tips to help you get the most out of heating your home this winter and they may even help you reduce your heating costs in the long term.
Doors and windows
Is it cold in your house in the winter? Then check your doors and windows. Your home may lose up to 25% of its heat in the winter over time. After 20 years, you should replace them. The costs will quickly pay for themselves in energy savings. You’ll save 10% in energy costs and reduce outside noise and risk of condensation with Energy Star® certified doors and windows.
Here are other signs that your doors and windows are driving up your heating costs: they are hard to open or close, there are drafts nearby, stripping is worn down or the windows are cold or fogged up.
You can use blinds or curtains to maximize heat efficiency. During the day, open them. This will let the sun in and heat the room. Close them at night to keep the heat in.
Is there an annoying draft in your house? Find the source and seal it up. Move around near doors and windows with a sheet of paper in your hand. If the paper wavers, you’ve probably got a draft nearby. You should also check the fireplace if you have one. Seal and caulk cracks in the joints and edges and then cover the windows with plastic wrap designed for this purpose. It will fit in place as you heat it with a hair dryer.
If you have a heated garage, caulk the door properly and make sure the weather stripping is in good condition. If you receive mail through a slot in the front door, you can also seal it off and have your mail delivered to a mailbox.
Install electronic, programmable thermostats throughout your home, which can reduce your heating bill by 10%. Start with open-plan rooms, where it heats the most. Have them installed by a certified electrician and make sure they are programmed for maximum efficiency.
The right temperature
You'll be surprised how setting your thermostats to the right temperature can reduce your heating costs. During the day, in often-used areas such as the bathrooms or a home office, you can set them between 20 C or 22 C. In other rooms, you can adjust the temperature down between 18 C and 21 C during the day.
At night, or when you’re away, you can lower the temperature by 3 C to 5 C without affecting your comfort level. This can reduce your heating bill by 3 to 5%. Do the math: every degree of heating above 20 C increases energy consumption by 2 to 5% .
You may feel cold because it’s too humid. High humidity makes you feel colder and you’ll turn up the heat. Keep the humidity level in your home between 30 and 50% in the winter. A hygrometer will help you measure the humidity levels. A fan can be installed in the bathroom to remove moisture from the shower or bath. You can also open a window to reduce the humidity in the house. You should do this for 5 minutes every day.
You should also inspect the dryer vent to make sure it’s properly connected and that the clapper is working. Avoid air-drying your clothes when it’s cold.
Air temperature is not evenly distributed in homes with multiple floors. If there is a ceiling fan above your stairs, turn it on. You should set it so that the blades push down the heat that has built up on the ceiling. Since warm air is lighter, it tends to rise and warm the house.
A long, hot shower hits the spot... but it uses up lots of hot water. Your hot water heater is the second largest electricity expense in your home after heating. It can account for 20% of your monthly bill. One way to reduce the cost in the winter is to take a shower instead of a bath, but keep it short. A low-flow showerhead will also help reduce your hot water consumption.
You should only use the dishwasher when it’s full. Make sure to set the cold water cycle on your washing machine. Turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, shaving or soaping your hands.
You can also insulate your water heater and hot water pipes, especially if they’re made of copper.
You could also invest in a heat pump. It is one of the most economical heating systems; however, in really cold weather, the heat pump may not be enough to heat your entire house and a backup system may be needed.
If you're thinking about buying a heat pump, you'll need to consider these things to make sure it’s the right investment for you: the cost of purchase and installation, the maintenance it will require, the area to be heated, your location and climate, and your home’s insulation.
When building or doing a major renovation on your home, you may want to consider installing a geothermal system. It's an environmentally friendly solution that can reduce your winter heating costs by more than 60% compared to conventional heating. Do the math to see if a geothermal system would reduce your winter costs enough for it to be worthwhile.
After all, keeping warm in winter is a good thing. Doing it while keeping your heating costs down is an even better thing. For more house and home tips, see our articles on the subject.