Millions of people appreciate winter as their favorite season, but even these people have to admit that keeping a house warm in winter can be a pain. Regardless of what type of house you have or what type of furnace is heating it, you’ll likely see increased electricity and/or natural gas bills when this potentially bitterly cold season rolls around.
Most of us are interested in learning new ways to reduce utility costs without necessarily sacrificing comfort. So what are the best strategies to accomplish this?
The Obvious Answer
First, we need to address the obvious answer. If you run your furnace less frequently, you’ll see lower utility bills. If you simply keep your house colder, and accommodate for this by bundling up with more layers and blankets, you’ll naturally decrease what you spend each month in utility costs.
However, this method isn’t particularly viable or attractive for most people. Few people like the idea of intentionally making themselves cold to save a few dollars, and even if they did, they probably have family members or friends who aren’t as keen on the idea.
So let’s explore some less obvious, more creative ideas for reducing utility costs.
Creative Ideas For Reducing Utility Costs In Winter
These strategies can help you reduce the cost of heating your home in winter.
1. Invest in a fireplace or insert. One option is to install a fireplace or a fireplace insert. This is going to represent a significant upfront cost, but it will represent a new option for heating the most frequented rooms of your home. Instead of running the furnace and heating the entire home, you can light the fireplace and stay cozy in the living room. Plus, having the fireplace will increase the selling price of your home in time.
2. Get a few small space heaters. A propane heater can be a powerful heating addition to any room of your house, or you can invest in multiple smaller electric heaters. Space heaters might be less efficient than your furnace, but they allow you to plan your heating and heat more efficiently overall. For example, instead of heating the entire house, you can use a portable space heater to heat whichever room you spend the most time in; if you’re only heating a bedroom, a living room, and an office, your utility bills will be much lower.
3. Clean out your air vents and ducts. Consider cleaning out your air vents and ductwork. People often underestimate just how much dust and debris can accumulate in these spaces, ultimately lowering your heating efficiency. An occasional cleanup is certainly warranted.
4. Check for air leaks. It’s also a good idea to check for air leaks throughout your house, especially around windows and doors. Depending on the nature of the leak, you might be able to seal it with caulk, ultimately making your house more insulative and allowing it to retain heat more easily.
5. Reverse your ceiling fans. Did you know that you can actually reverse the direction your ceiling fans turn – and that it’s actually helpful? It’s true. Reversing your ceiling fans so that they recirculate warm air and keeping them running throughout the winter at a low setting can greatly increase the power of your heating potential without increasing your electricity expenditures.
6. Insulate your hot water tank. Heating during winter isn’t just about the furnace; it’s also about heating the water. If you want to make sure your water heater continues running at maximum efficiency, consider insulating it with a wrap.
7. Be smart about laundry. Your utility bills may also be influenced by how you approach laundry. Doing less frequent, bigger loads and running more efficient cycles can help you save money on utilities reliably. Also, if you time things right, you can take advantage of hot clothes right out of the dryer, keeping you warmer for longer.
8. Upgrade your lights. In winter, there’s less daylight, and we rely on more artificial light to live our lives. If you’re currently still dealing with incandescent bulbs or fluorescent bulbs, consider upgrading to LEDs to save money on electricity.
9. Strategically utilize sunlight. You can also save money on heating by strategically using sunlight. Obviously, sunlight is warm, but you can take advantage of this effect to heat your home more reliably. Essentially, this means letting in as much sunlight as possible during the day and closing your curtains at night.
10. Stay active. Physical activity and exercise raise your body temperature, making you feel warmer regardless of the ambient temperature around you. You’ll feel less compelled to increase the temperature on the thermostat if you stay active during winter, regularly working out and moving around the house instead of staying sedentary. Since the effects of physical activity can linger for hours after the activity is finished, this can keep you warm all day.
What will you do with the extra money you save using these strategies? Will you make different home upgrades? Will you splurge on more luxuries? Will you save and invest the money so it continues to grow? It’s up to you, but no matter what, you’ll be better off with greater heating efficiency during the coldest months of the year.