‘Ol Man Winter is here – It’s getting cold!

So, with winter upon us, short days, wet and windy storms with colder temperatures, just how is a person to keep the heating bill from skyrocketing without feeling like you now live in a freezer? Well, there are a few things that you can do, some of which don’t cost a penny. First are the obvious actions we can take that a lot of people don’t really want to do, but if we want to save some money, these are the easiest and no-brainers. Turn down the thermostat a few degrees (supposedly for every degree you lower your thermostat it saves you about 3% on your heating bill). Use the natural warmth that the sun provides by opening up the curtains on the sunny sides of your home and let the warming rays into your house while the sun is shinning on those areas. Then close the curtains as the sun moves on to hold that free heat in as long as possible. Add a blanket or two to your bed. Find and put on a warm sweater and slippers. Close doors to unused rooms after closing down the heat registers in those rooms. Check the temperature of the water at your faucets and turn down the water heater to 120 degrees maximum, which will save you money to heat the water and avoid you getting scalded. Next, consider buying and installing a programmable thermostat for your heating system so that it only is making heat when you want it to. Check and clean or replace the filter for the furnace/heating system. Consider having the heating system cleaned, evaluated and ‘tuned-up’ each year prior to the heating season. Check for cracks and gaps inside your home as well as the exterior to make sure you don’t have air leaks occurring. Caulking and sealing any of those cracks and gaps should stop the air leaks. Install those inexpensive foam gaskets behind your light switch and electrical receptacle cover plates to stop air from moving in and out of the walls. Finally, look at your windows. Changing out windows for new dual pane high efficiency windows may seem like a good move, but that usually is an expensive proposition and many installers don’t do a proper job and you will end up with moisture leaks into your walls, which creates all kinds of problems. But, check around as there are numerous ways that you can add an additional ‘layer’ to your windows that will give you almost the same result as the new replacement windows would. Some of those remedies are available at home improvement stores and even some window shops. Adding insulation over the ceilings as well as in the walls and under the floor can gain you incredible heating savings and comfort, but can be difficult to accomplish and expensive. And, of course, if your heating system and water heater are old equipment, you could always bite the bullet and upgrade to new efficient equipment. It always seems like it comes down to money, so try all the free and simple things first to see if that will suffice.