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November 2012

How to Reduce Your Heating Costs This Winter

As the hours of daylight grow shorter and the temperatures are dropping, are you wondering how you can save on heating costs and still be comfortable?

How to Reduce Your Heating Costs This Winter

You can save on heating by taking the time to winterize your home. We've collected some tips to try to help you keep heating costs under control.

Lower your thermostat

One of the easiest ways to lower your heating costs, it's been estimated you can save between 1% and 3% on your heating bill for every degree you lower the thermostat. The process can be made easier by installing a programmable thermostat. Another easy thing to do is to have your shades or curtains open during daylight hours to let sunlight in, and then to close them at night to help reduce the amount of heat that escapes.

Dress for the weather

Another simple way to lower your heating costs. It has been estimated that a lightweight sweater can provide roughly 2 degrees in added warmth, while a heavier sweater can supply about 4 degrees of added warmth. Throw on some socks and you'll really feel cozy without having to turn up the heat.

Get your heating system checked

Having a certified professional check your heating system will keep your furnace clean and running properly, which will reduce energy use and potentially save you on heating costs. It is recommended that you turn on the furnace in fall to test it before it is really needed. Check for strange sounds and/or a lingering foul smell (a brief odor when you first turn your furnace on is normal.) Many utility companies offer free annual checkups by qualified technicians, and some furnace manufacturers and dealers also offer free or discounted inspections.

Change your furnace filters

It's important to regularly replace your furnace filters, as a dirty air filter can restrict airflow and increase energy consumption. Check your filters once a month and change them every three months at minimum. As your furnace filter collects household dust, dander and pollen it can get clogged, making it much harder for air to pass through. This causes the blower to work harder, increasing your energy bill (and in a worst-case scenario can cause the blower motor to overheat and burn out).

Run ceiling fans in reverse

By reversing the rotation of the blades, warmer air located near the ceiling is circulated back down towards the floor, creating a much more comfortable temperature and potentially reducing heating costs.

Turn down the temperature on your water heater

Many water heaters are set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit by installers, but most don't need water that hot. Consider lowering the temperature to 120 degrees, which could reduce water-heating costs by 6 to 10%.

Insulate your pipes

You can reduce your hot water costs by insulating your water pipes. If an exposed pipe feels warm to the touch it's a good candidate for insulating, as heat is being lost through the pipes. Insulating your pipes - both hot and cold water - can also help decrease the chance of them freezing.

Invest in a home energy audit

A home energy audit can help to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. This type of audit will tell you where you're losing energy and provide recommendations on ways to improve. This can involve installing additional insulation, sealing drafts to replacing poorly performing appliances. For low-income families the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is designed to permanently reduce energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.

Tax credits can help reduce costs

Tax credits can help homeowners install renewable-energy and energy-efficiency projects. Various local, state and federal tax incentives encourage the use of efficient windows and doors, insulation, roofing, water heaters (including solar water heaters) and alternative-energy technologies, such as solar power and geothermal heating and cooling. You can learn about local incentives by searching the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Spend a little - you may save a lot

By turning down the thermostat and implementing some of these recommendations you should notice a reduction in your heating costs. The trick is to find a balance between saving money and being comfortable. Hopefully these tips will help you do just that.

Note: These tips are strictly for educational purposes and should not be taken as legal advice. Links from 21st Century Insurance to third-party sites do not constitute an endorsement by 21st Century Insurance of the parties or their products and services. 21st Century Insurance is not responsible for any damages that result from use of these products or services.

Sources: ready.gov; fema.gov; energy.gov;

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