Handy Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill
December 08, 2015
Let’s face it, being trapped inside during the cold winter months doesn’t exactly scream “fun.” It’s only a matter of time before sitting at home in front of the warm fire starts to seem less like relaxation and more like solitary confinement. If you’re feeling handy in these cold times, here are a few ways to productively combat boredom – with the added bonus of reducing what it costs to keep your place warm and toasty.
1. Replace Worn Weatherstripping
Unfortunately, a door's weather seals can rip, compress, bend, or wear out over time, leaving chilly winter air free to enter (or expensive air-conditioned air to leave once the warmer months finally start to roll in). Worn weatherstripping around doors and windows creates drafts. Much of a home's heat loss can occur around windows and doors, prompting homeowners to turn up their furnace to keep comfy. Even the “tough guys” that don't turn up the thermostat will still lose warm air through these openings, causing the furnace to work harder.
Fortunately, attaching new weatherstripping is a straightforward exercise, typically as simple as pulling off the old and tacking on the new. When you consider that even a tiny 1/8-inch gap around a typical entryway door is the equivalent of drilling a 5 ½-inch-diameter hole through an outside wall, closing that gap is well worth the effort. Most weatherstripping needs to be replaced every few years. A Mass Save Home Energy Assessment can also identify opportunities for air sealing and insulation.
2. Adjust Door Thresholds
Daylight is usually a representation of good things to come, but if you can see daylight under your front door, then you're looking at some high energy bills in your near future. If a door is not in contact with the threshold, the air is going right under it and you’re losing the indoor air you've paid to heat or cool.
Some thresholds have screws that let you adjust the height to eliminate a gap. Turn the screws counterclockwise to lift the threshold until daylight is mostly gone. A little light in the corners is okay, but don't raise the threshold so high that it interferes with opening and closing the door. Be careful that the door doesn’t drag on the threshold or it'll wear out the weatherstripping you’ve already made the effort to replace.
Of course, if you don’t feel like busting out your tool box to make these adjustments, another DIY solution is to cover all spaces with draft stoppers.
3. Cover Windows and Sliding Doors with Plastic Film
Windows account for approximately 10 to 25 percent of heat loss in homes, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Covering the windows and sliding patio doors with clear plastic film can reduce that loss.
The transparent film is inexpensive, simple to apply, and won't harm your trim. If it’s put on correctly, you'll barely notice it and once it starts to warm up come spring time, the film comes off easily. It can be purchased at almost any local home improvement store.
Bonus Window Tip: Notice how when you lock your windows, you can feel them pushing together more tightly? This can actually make a difference for your heating bill. Even when doors and windows are closed, they might not be pressed tight against the weatherstripping if they're not locked, which allows cold outside air to infiltrate the home. Lock your windows early though - if they freeze in their current positions, then they won't move and you won't be able to lock them without a lot of work.
4. Seal Air Leaks in Ductwork
It has likely been a while since you’ve visited your attic, but it’s a good time to take a look at the ductwork that's accessible in your home’s attic (and the basement while you’re at it). Look for places where the ducts may have pulled apart at seams and corners. According to ENERGY STAR®, the typical house with forced air heating loses about 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the system to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts.
Unfortunately, because ducts are often concealed in walls, ceilings, attics, and basements, repairing them can be sometimes challenging. However, there are things that you can do to improve duct performance in your house. Some recommendations include placing a mastic sealant or metal tape over any leaks to seal them. Never use duct tape, as it is not long-lasting. The Mass Save Electric Heating and Cooling program also offers incentives for having a professional seal your ducts.
These handy winter tips are relatively quick and easy ways to make adjustments to your home. They will go a long way in saving you money on your home energy bill, while simultaneously keeping you and your loved ones comfortable and cozy.
Be sure to browse our other blog posts for more tips, tricks, and ideas for saving money on energy.