Make Home Heating Costs More Affordable

By: Ben Franklin

It's a simple fact that home heating costs are on the rise. Whether the source of heating is natural gas or electric, prices for fuel have skyrocketed and they're showing no signs of coming down.

While keeping off every light in the house may help for a while, there are more logical steps that can be taken to fight back against heating costs that are too high in a home. Conservation efforts at home can go a long way toward keeping bills lower.

To start saving money right away on electric or fuel bills, the first place to start is by looking at what's running. Unplug unused appliances that might have a drain on power. There's no need to keep three PCs running all day long if you're not home. The same goes for freezer equipment that might not be getting maximum usage. If it isn't stocked to 50 percent capacity, try consolidating items into a single freezer and unplugging the drain. Do keep lights off when they're not in use and remember fans cool people, not rooms.

Beyond that, the biggest drains on home heating bills are a person's practice for keeping a home cooled or heated. To save some money on bills, check the following things:

Whether it's winter or summer, a thermostat should stay in the range of 68 to 70 degrees with money saving variations on either end depending on conditions. For heating, every degree above 70 increases costs by as much at 10 percent. Considering the costs of heating, that's a whole lot of money.

Make sure filters in heating and cooling machinery are cleaned and changed on a monthly basis. Dirty filters have been known to hike electric costs by as much as 20 percent. That's a lot of cash thrown out the window. They can also damage equipment, which will cost you even more in the long run.

Inspect systems and ductwork on a yearly basis. Sometimes ducts can spring leaks, which cause major drains on the wallet. These inspections can also tell you if your system operates as it should and as safely as it should.

Make sure fireplace dampers are closed when not in use. A chimney can suck a lot of air out of home and cause some serious drains on the heating or cooling system.

Ceiling fans can help circulate both warm and cool air. Remember though, they typically are best used when you're in the room, too.

Make sure windows and doors are properly sealed. This means caulking, sealing and weather stripping.

Storm windows can also help keep leaks from draining the bill.

Close up crawl spaces in the winter.

In the winter, if you plan to be away on vacation, set your thermostat to the lowest setting, but don't turn it off.

Portable heaters instead of firing up entire systems can save money if used wisely and safely. Remember though, these can be dangerous if small children are present.

Keeping heating costs at an affordable rate may be difficult due to circumstances beyond our control, but homeowners can take steps to reduce their use of energy and at least keep their bills in check.

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