The most obvious yet overlooked step you can take to cut your winter heating costs is to have your furnace serviced in the fall to ensure that it's working as efficiently as possible. Some companies will offer free tune-ups, but you'll have to be proactive about hunting them down. Also consider a programmable thermostat; its ability to lower the heat automatically during hours when the family is away or asleep can save bundles on your monthly bill.
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- 9 Sneaky Ways to Cut Your Home Heating Bills
9 Sneaky Ways to Cut Your Home Heating Bills
Service the Furnace
When it comes to heat loss, windows are one of the biggest culprits, so it's important to insulate them properly. For an inexpensive fix, cut a piece of bubble wrap to fit perfectly inside the window frame, spray a thin film of water on the window, and place the bubble wrap on the glass. The layer of plastic will let the sunlight in while keeping the warmth where it belongs: inside.
Flip the Fan
We all know that warm air rises, but this common fact can have a chilling effect on our heating bills. Although it seems like switching your ceiling fan on would cool things off, doing so can actually make your spaces toastier, so long as you set the blades to spin in a clockwise manner. (To reverse the rotation, check for a switch at the base of your fan.) This change of direction creates a slight updraft that will push the warm air toward the walls and back down into the room.
Take the Test
Air leaks are a major source of heat loss. Check your home for possible gaps with this easy test: Hold a piece of toilet paper in front of your window and door frames. If the toilet paper moves, you've found a crack that needs to be sealed. Use weatherstripping to fill the gaps so that the heat stays tucked inside, and consider adding foam insulation to outlets to reduce heat loss even more.
Reflect Your Radiator
If you have radiators in your home, try fashioning reflective plates out of aluminum foil and placing one behind each unit. Instead of just heating up your wall, the radiator will heat the foil, which will reflect warmth back into the room and allow you to make the most of the unit's output.
Consider the Cost of Exhaust
Exhaust fans do a great job of ridding your bathroom of humid air after a hot shower. But running them continuously can actually run up your monthly heating bills, because as the fans pull warm air out of the room, that air is replaced by colder air that then needs to be heated. Switch your fans on only when necessary to ensure that you're not wasting any of your hard-earned heat.
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Stop Drafty Doors
If you have drafty doors, craft an inexpensive DIY fix from foam pipe insulation. Cut the foam to size, and wrap it around the bottom of your doors—yes, even the interior ones!—to prevent heat from escaping and utility costs from increasing. The best part is that these draft dodgers are easy to remove when the weather warms up, so you have no excuse not to try out this budget-saving solution.
Grab a Jacket
If you don't have a jacket for your water heater, odds are you're wasting the warmth. Consider insulating your unit to reduce heat loss and save a little cash—about $20 a month, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To test to see if your water heater needs additional insulation, simply touch it. If it feels warm, it could probably use a blanket, but check your owner's manual first to make sure your model can be covered.
Let the Sunshine In
This is by far the easiest thing you can do to lower home heating bills: Raise the blinds when the sun is out! It's especially important to keep window coverings open on south-facing windows, because they bring in the warmest afternoon sun. Just remember to close your blinds and curtains again at night to keep all the toasty air inside until the sun returns.
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