Prepare for energy costs for the 2017 – 2018 winter

Cold winter weather has hit with a blast. Now is the time to prepare as much as possible, so you can reduce your 2018 heating bills, save money, and use energy in a more efficient manner. Preparing now will not only help you reduce your household expenses, but it is also good for the environment.

The Northeast and Midwest has just been racked by its very first cold spell. There are even some predictions of the infamous “Polar Vortex” soon hitting, and with La Nina forming over the last few days the northeast and northwest may have colder, snowier weather for all of the 2018 winter and 2019 spring. For those looking for financial aid during the winter, be sure to apply for LIHEAP grants for paying energy bills.

How to prepare

It is always a good idea to take a fresh look at your house. Try to find any windows or portions of your house that are drafty. Look for any fading or old weather-stripping around doors or windows that should be done. Also check pipes for any opportunity to weather-strip or caulk them as well. The U.S. Department of Energy says just reducing draft could save as much as 30% on your 2018 winter heating bills! That is as good as free money! The US DOE also helps fund free weatherization services during 2018 for lower income households.

Some drafts can even be addressed by using plastic stripping on windows or hanging drapes. This is easier and quicker than caulk, weather-stripping, etc. Hang them over your windows and/or doors to save money.

A similar approach is to add extra insulation. This is a little more comprehensive (but a lot more effective) then just using caulk and weather-stripping on say pipes, windows, or doors. But it is more expensive to freshen up the insulation, but it will save you money on your bills both in 2018 and following years. As the work lasts!

Heating systems should also be tuned up on occasion. It is generally best to do this on an annual basis, but if your 2018 household budget does not allow that expense of a professional HVAC company, then at least do it every 2 years. They can help ensure the unit is running efficiently, which can save you money on your heating bills.

Another easy way to save money on a heating unit is to put a new filter into the unit. Many of them will capture and/or remove dust and particles from the air. It allows the unit to run more efficiently, and it keeps it operating longer as well with less maintenance on it.

Another quick and easy thing to do is to turn down the temperature on your water heater. If it is turned up to say 150 degrees, and the unit is in a cold part of your home, then you expend a tremendous amount of energy to keep the water at that temperature. Turning it down, even slightly, can pay dividends for your household budget.

Now the general “heating and cooling” of your home will probably take up about 40 to even 70% of your monthly utility bill during the 2017 as well as 2018 winter. The steps listed above (such as reducing drafts and furnace tune ups) will help, but the biggest thing to do is to just turn down the thermostat. Or use a programmable thermostat. Both are bound to save you money this winter. Just turning it down when you leave the home can save up to 15% on your heating bills!

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