How to Save a Few Bucks on Your Winter Heating Bill

Heating bill got you down this winter? Save a little cash this year

American households spend an average of $2,000 a year on heating and cooling, and a substantial portion of that’s taken up by the winter heating bill. Fortunately, there are some fairly simple ways to save money on your winter heating, whether you use electricity or gas, and I’ll outline them here.

Old standbys

I’m not going to hammer you mercilessly with the old classic tips, like turning your thermostat down to 68 degrees and piling on the sweaters, because I’m going to make the remarkable assumption that you know these things already.

But they do deserve a mention, because here’s the thing: they work.

Permanently turning down your thermostat one degree saves about 3% on your monthly bill, as a rule. So turning it down by three degrees can save you about 9-10%. Not too shabby, right?

Less obvious option

You may have heard of the “greenhouse effect”, which from a general atmospheric perspective can be really bad (if taken too far). However, at the household level, it can be a good thing. Opening your drapes wide during the day can take advantage of the greenhouse effect, substantially warming your house.

Here’s how it works: just like in a greenhouse, the sunlight shines through the glass of the window. To regular sunlight, glass is transparent. But when it bounces off objects in your home, sunlight often turns into infrared radiation — that is, heat.

Glass is opaque to infrared radiation. That is, the heat just bounces off the inside of your window glass and stays inside your house. At night, just close your drapes so they act as insulators, and you’re hunky-dory.

Plugging holes

Now, although heat can’t escape through glass, it can escape through cracks and holes around doors and windows. Needless to say, you need to get in there with some weather-stripping and caulk to plug as many holes as you can, in order to retain heat.

One caveat: don’t plug all the holes. Your house needs to completely exchange its air supply every hour or so to keep the air as clean and safe as possible, so some openings are necessary. Your heating system ought to help with this, though.

Speaking of your heating system…

One simple way to save money on your winter heating is to be sure to replace your furnace and central air filters regularly. If the filter’s clean, your system won’t have to work nearly as hard or as long to heat the house. Replace the filter monthly and save up to 3% on your heating bill!