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Editor’s Note: This story was originally Penny Horder.
Americans are experiencing the biggest surge in heating costs in over a decade, with much of the United States experiencing a bitterly cold season. But he has eight tips that can help lower your bill.
With bitterly cold temperatures blowing our necks off, we’ll list these tips from the simplest to the most complex.
What’s Behind High Utility Bills?
Average home heating costs are expected to rise from $177 to $1,202 this winter, a 17% increase over last winter. according to a recent report From the National Energy Assistance Director Association (NEADA).
According to NEADA, this is the second winter in a row that heating costs have increased significantly. Members of this organization are state directors of the Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps poor households with their energy costs.
What is the reason for the increase? That’s largely because the heat of the summer has driven natural gas prices to their highest in 14 years.
According to NEADA, 90% of heating and cooling costs are due either directly to the price of natural gas or because natural gas is used to generate electricity.
What can you do about high utility bills?
In the short term, with freezing weather continuing, there are a few things you can do right now. If you’re a renter or a homeowner on a tight budget, there are relatively inexpensive ways to cut your utility bills.
In the long run, if you’re a homeowner, the best way to cut your heating costs is to improve your insulation or invest in better windows.
Here are some options to consider, from the simplest to the most complex.
1. Close unused rooms
This is the easiest tip.
If you have a room that is used only for storage, exercise, or guests, keep the door closed and the ventilation in that room closed when not in use. Otherwise, you’re just heating unused space unnecessarily.
2.Block the draft from the door
Door bottoms are a major source of heat loss in winter. If you can see the sun coming in from under your door or feel a cool breeze, you need to take action.
You can temporarily remedy the situation by wrapping a towel around the bottom of the door.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, try Draft Guard.it’s basically 2 pool noodles in a pillow case, Sliding under the door blocks drafts from both sides. Adding a bit of rice or dried corn makes the guard heavier and a better sealer.
3. Stop eating out
Of course, you can save money on food by eating at home rather than eating out, but in the winter you can keep your utility bills down by baking and cooking.
When you cook in an oven or stovetop, heat is released into the kitchen and surrounding rooms. After turning off the oven, crack it open to let the remaining heat escape into the house.
4. Reduce fever
A simple way to lower your heating costs in winter is to run your heating system at a lower temperature.
Obviously you need to keep the pipes warm enough so they don’t freeze, but if you can handle the cold, turn the thermostat down to the low to mid 60s.
Warm yourself up with a sweatshirt, thick socks, and a blanket. Also, don’t forget to cover your pet.
5. Use a space heater
OK, I’ve turned the heat off, closed the rooms I’m not using, and wrapped myself in blankets, but I’m still feeling chilly. A small space heater might do the trick. You can get it for less than $30 at Amazon or home goods stores.
It’s more affordable to use a little heat in one small area than to heat an entire living space. However, to avoid a fire hazard, operate according to instructions.
6. Add weatherstripping
Door and window weatherstripping is key to retaining heat in the winter (and keeping it out in the summer). If your windows and doors are letting in too much heat, replace the weatherstripping.
It’s a small cost (something you can buy for less than $15), but you’ll save a lot on your utility bills.
7. Insulate the windows
Large single-pane windows let in the cold, but you can find temporary ways to keep the heat from escaping.
You can do this by hanging thick curtains in front of your windows, but an even better solution (or a solution in combination with curtains) is to purchase a window insulation film kit. You can get a kit that insulates 10 windows for about $25.
If not installed correctly, the window will look like it is shrink wrapped.
8. Insulate the attic
Attics can let warm or cold air escape, driving up your electricity bill. Look around your attic or basement to see if the insulation is blackened. This is a sign that air is passing through.
Adding insulation to your attic can significantly reduce your energy costs. So the insulation pays for itself in the end.
The Department of Energy website states, how to insulate your homeHowever, we recommend that you seek professional help.
We are not powerless to deal with rising heating costs. A little strategic thinking and perhaps a little elbow grease can help reduce your utility bills.