Americans spent an average of $661 on our heating bills last year, according to the American Gas Association. If you’re racking your brain trying to figure out how to cut heating costs, you’re in luck: To the rescue are five easy tips that will not only keep you warm, but prevent your costs from soaring in the remaining months of winter.
1. Set It and Forget It
A programmable thermostat, like the Google Nest ($169, Home Depot), can save you about $180 per year on heating and cooling costs. “Lowering your thermostat by just one or two degrees can slash your heating bill [dramatically],” confirms home-improvement pro Danny Lipford. If you know you’ll be out of the house for eight or more hours, consider lowering the temperature about 10 degrees when you know you’ll be out of the house for eight or more hours to save up to 15 percent on your energy bills, per the US Department of Energy.
2. Warm Air With a Slow Fan
Since hot air rises, adjust your ceiling fan so it rotates in reverse, turning clockwise and pushing warm air downward, says energy expert Michael Bluejay. Most ceiling fans have a toggle switch on the motor housing. “Just keep your fan on low so it doesn’t blow the air past you so fast that it creates a windchill.”
3. Insulate Your Home With Curtain Smarts
Curtains act as an extra layer of insulation around your windows, where more than 50 percent of heat escapes. “Dark fabric [absorbs] infrared radiation from the sun and conducts more heat, making your house warmer,” notes energy efficiency pro and Buildings Don’t Lie ($75, Amazon) author Henry Gifford, Rather than buying pricey, thick curtains, just insulate your current ones: Get some double-stick tape ($8.99, Amazon) and Velcro ($5.36, Amazon), and attach a piece of fabric, such as fleece, to the side of the curtain facing the window. There’s no sewing required and it will be easy to remove come spring!
4. Turn on This “Hidden Humidifier”
The more water in the air, the warmer you’ll feel. “Adding humidity is an inexpensive way to make you more comfortable,” confirms Gifford. The cheapest “humidifier”? Your slow cooker! Just fill it with water with the lid off and set it on low — it will make the air more moist while using just 10 cents worth of electricity for eight hours.
5. Invest in a Water-Heater Cozy
Insulating your hot-water heater can reduce its heat loss by 40 percent and slash your annual bill by up to 16 percent. How to tell if your heater needs insulation? “It should feel cool to the touch,” says energy expert Jeff Rogers. If it doesn’t, pick up a hot-water-heater blanket ($29.46, Home Depot). Notes Rogers: “Your water heater should be set at 130 degrees Fahrenheit — any hotter will drive up your bill.”
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.
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