You don't have to freeze all Winter long in order to save money on your heating bills!
As the days get shorter and the temperature start to fall, anxiety starts to set in about heating bills. I remember the constant struggle between my mom and my step-dad about what temperature the thermostat should be at in order to be comfortable and yet save money. It seemed silly to me at age 14 but as an adult I quickly realized that there's a delicate balance between being warm and being broke. $500 heating oil bills and $300 monthly electric bills are a hard punch to the wallet.
But there are things you can do to save money on your heating bills.
Tips To Save on. Your Heating Bills
- Set it and forget it – don't adjust your thermostat every few hours.
- Install storm windows and doors
- Add a metal or plastic strip to the bottom of the home’s external entrance and exit doors
- Inspect and repair the furnace – Renters can ask their maintenance staff to inspect the furnace prior to the onset of winter
- Keep your furnace tuned up – An oil-fired furnace should be tuned up yearly to be sure it is running properly. Natural gas and Propane units can be tuned up yearly as well but they can go two years if money is tight.
- Install free furnace filters – you don't need to call a serviceman for this. Locate your unit's filter, take it to Lowe's or Home Depot and buy a replacement.
- Add an additional blanket or comforter to beds at night
- Seal cracks in windows and doors
- Turn off electrical appliances that are not in use (e.g. computer, stereo) and turn off their power supply – These power strips make it easy to switch off the entertainment/gaming system set up so it isn't using electricity while you're sleeping or at work.
- Install a wood-burning stove or pellet stove
- Install a fireplace – a fireplace allows you to use what's called zone heating. The fireplace heats the room you're in while the other rooms remind cooler. This can save you up to 40% on home heating costs.
- Open blinds and drapes during the daytime to allow the heat from the sun to warm the house
- Move furniture so that it is not close to windows – this will help family members and guests avoid feeling chilly while they recline on the sofa or relax in a chair
- Wear heavier clothing while inside (e.g. sweaters, thick socks)
- Close the front or back door soon after someone enters or exits the home. Avoid keeping doors open for extended periods of time.
- Install window film over single-pane windows and drafty windows to keep air out. We use these and they work wonderfully!
- If safe to do so, crack your oven door after use to allow the heat to escape to your kitchen/dining room.
- Buy family slippers – If your feet are cold, you'll be cold. Cute slippers can be fun and help you feel warm
- Run a humidifier – If you live in a humid climate you know that “sticky” feeling of a hot, humid August day. Humidity is bad in the summer but good in the Winter. It helps you feel warmer.
Some of these ways to save on your heating bills require an investment. I realize this sounds counter-intuitive to spend money when money is tight but here's the thing to consider: What is your return on investment? How long will it take you to save the purchase price in utility costs?
For example. You purchase and install a fireplace for your living room/dining room area. The cost is $600. Let's say it saves you 40% off your home heating cost which runs $200 a month. That's $80 a month. $600/$80= 7.5. This means in 7 1/2 winter months you'll have saved what it cost you to install the fireplace.
Depending on where you live, that's one Winter heating season. That means after that time has elapsed, you are truly saving money.
What about the propane expense for the fireplace? Yes, you will have to factor in the propane costs here as well. The great thing about propane gas is that you can fill your tank when the prices are the lowest, generally in the Summer, and use it over the winter. Propane does not “go bad” so your tank will last as long as it takes to use up the gas.
Pro Tip – Saving Up to Save on Your Heating Bills
Leveraging your money is another way to save on your heating bills.
As part of your monthly financial plan, you should be saving money for your heating costs. In doing so you'll have funds for the higher electric bill or natural gas bills. Or, if you're using a reservable fuel source like wood, pellets, coal, propane, or heating oil you can purchase in advance when the prices are lowest. For example, fuel oil and propane prices are generally lowest in the Summer months, June through August. You can prebuy or fill your tank then so that you get the best rate possible.
What if the above tips aren't enough?
What if you're doing everything you can to save on your heating bills but still can't make it?
What if installing a fireplace just isn't in the cards?
Getting Assistance to Pay Utility Bills
There's no shame in needing assistance when things are tight. Utilizing utility assistance programs can help alleviate some money stress while you work toward being self-sufficient.
And, if you're retired or helping out your aging relatives, these are wonderful programs for those on a fixed income. Utility companies like Philadelphia’s PECO Energy have financial assistance programs that their customers can sign up for.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal program that consumers around the United States can access to apply to receive financial assistance to pay their utility bills. Monies from the programs are paid directly to utility companies. My grandmother used this program for a number of years as she was a widow on a fixed income and my mother-in-law still uses it. The application process is simple and only requires a few necessary steps.
If you need assistance to pay your utility bills during the winter months I encourage you to contact your utility company.
Getting out of debt is the best way to have more money each month to spend on things you need (like heating costs and food). Join my free 6 Steps to A Debt Free Lifestyle mini eCourse today and get started right away! Learn more and sign up here.