Woman Keeping Warm by a Winter Fireplace

The Best Ways to Save Money on Your Heating Bill

January 15, 2020

Angie Schrunk By Angie Schrunk
SNB Market President

Jack Frost doesn’t just nip at your nose — he also takes a bite out of your wallet. Luckily, as the temperature drops, there are plenty of simple things you can do around the house to make your home more energy efficient. 

In this article, we'll break down 10 free or low-cost measures you can take this winter to save on your next heating bill:

1. Turn down the thermostat 1 degree.

Put on some warm slippers, a blanket and cuddle up —because the government's Energy Savers website says that cutting just 1 degree on the thermostat can save you 3-5 percent on your next heating bill. At the very least, try turning down the heater when you go to work, or when no one’s home!

Estimated heating bill savings: $5-10/month

2. Change your furnace filter more often in the winter. 

If you run your heater every day during the winter, it’s a good idea to change your filter at least once a month.  It's a simple task that allows your furnace to heat more efficiently. And according to the Department of Energy, replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can reduce energy consumption by as much as 15 percent!

Estimated heating bill savings: $5-10/month

3. Let the sunshine in.

Heat from the sun is free — so take advantage of it! Open your curtains and let sunlight in during the day, and close your curtains when it gets dark. If you have an energy efficient curtain style, it can even act as a helpful layer of insulation – reducing heat loss in a warm room up to 10 percent (Energy.gov).

Estimated heating bill savings: $3-5/month

4. Reverse your fan blades.

Ceiling fans aren't just for the summer. Flipping the little switch on the side of your fan makes the blades rotate in a clockwise direction (as opposed to counter-clockwise in the summer). This produces a gentle updraft, grabbing the warm air pooled in the ceiling and keeping the room at a steadier temperature — which makes you feel warmer, even if the average temperature of your home doesn't change. In fact, the DOE has found that ceiling fans allow people to adjust their thermostat up to 4 degrees without realizing a change in comfort, and a study by the University of Arkansas cites thoroughly mixed air can save 20-30 percent on heating costs. Even a fraction of those savings will result in a lower heating bill for you!

Estimated heating bill savings: $5-10/month

5. Turn down the water heater.

The Department of Energy recommends keeping your tank-based electric water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit — but did you know a lot of standard water heaters are set at 140? The DOE estimates that lowering your water heater to a more reasonable temperature can save you up to $400 annually on the water you use, plus an extra $36-$61 on the extra water your heater is keeping warm, that you don't use!

Estimated electric bill savings: $400/year ($33/month)

6. Take shorter showers — and avoid the bath.

An average bath can take anywhere between 35-50 gallons of water, compared to a 10-minute shower that uses between 20-25 gallons (per the EPA). Of course in your household, if you’re throwing more than one child in the tub at once, it might even things out. Calculate accordingly!

Estimated water bill savings: $4-7/month

7. Don't wash your clothes on hot (unless you need to).

According to Energy Star, 90 percent of the energy used by your washer is used to heat the water, and just 10 percent is used to run the machine.  Whenever possible, opt for cold or warm water when you throw in the laundry. Most washing machines clean effectively at 86 degrees Fahrenheit (the warm setting on your washing machine).

Estimated electric bill savings: $3-5/month

8. Air-dry your clothes. 

Using the math from “Simple Dollar,” the energy cost for drying an average load of clothes ranges from 35 to 50 cents. If you have enough space, add to your energy savings by hanging your laundry to dry in your doorways or on racks. You’ll also save wear and tear on your clothes — and your dryer sheets!

Estimated electric bill/dryer savings: $3-5/month

9. Dress your bed accordingly.

Using flannel sheets and an extra blanket negates the need to run the heater on full blast, when you aren’t awake to notice it. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a nighttime temp between 60 and 67 degrees, so this is a great opportunity to turn that thermostat down another notch!

Estimated heating bill savings: $3-5/month (if you can turn down your thermostat another 1 degree)

10. Draft proof underneath doors & windows.

Plugging spots where cold air leaks into your home can make a difference. When it comes to “winterizing,” you have options. Use your own blankets or towels, buy one of the hundreds of “draft stopper” products out there, or if you’re crafty, you can even make your own version — like my personal favorite, the sausage dog draught excluder.

Estimated heating bill savings: $2-3/month

 

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NOTE: The estimated savings on this page are based on calculations made by the Department of Energy and other cited sources, but cannot be guaranteed. Many factors might influence actual savings results, including condition of the home, weather, relative air humidity, window installation quality, and several other variables. 

 

About the Author

Angie Schrunk

Angie Schrunk is the Market President of the Security National Bank branches in Lawton, Mapleton, Moville and Climbing Hill.