20 frugal tips on How to cut your winter heating bills and reduce your heating costs

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  • Become A Draft Dodger! 20 Frugal Ways to Cut Heating Costs

    As the temperatures plummet, the only things that are rising seem to be heating costs.
    Shoo away those winter chills with a few frugal tips to help keep your heating bills down and the temperature inside your home at a comfortable level.
    Lately, as you walk through various rooms in your home, you may have noticed drafty cold spots. Perhaps near an older door that you may not use very often or windows that you haven't gotten around to replacing.

    • Clear Tape works wonders in sealing around the edges of unused Doors and doorways, (such as an extra bedroom no longer in use, etc) The tape removes easily in the spring, prevents cold air from blowing in and is virtually invisible.
    • Keep in mind when you turn on your bathroom fan that you are essentially sucking heat right out of your home. If you don't like your bathroom mirror steamed up after a shower, simply turn a hair dryer on for a minute or two and "dry" your mirror. It will dry the steam streak free, avoiding unnecessary heat loss from the fan. The extra moisture in the air from the shower will help add some humidity.
    • Window Covering Kits work wonders for sealing out the drafty air. Not sure whether your windows need to be covered; simply light a candle and hold it near the edge of the window, if the flame flickers or goes out, chances are you need to cover the window with plastic. While heavy curtains are great during the evening and at night, allowing the sunshine in during the day will warm your home.
    • Electrical outlets in your home frequently allow in cold drafts of air. A great inexpensive way to block this cold air in un-used outlets is to plug in child safety plugs.
    • Also, Electrical outlet covers can be removed and insulated with a piece of thin foam (much like the foam craft sheets) to prevent cold air from coming in around the edges. If you don't think the outlets let cold air in, I challenge you to hold your hand over one on a chilly day!
    • If you have a basement, be sure it is insulated in cracks and crevices. While it may seem expensive to buy a roll or two of insulation, you will save literally hundreds of dollars per year with the investment. Get in those hard to reach places with a can of expanding insulation foam.
    • If you don't have a basement or if you have a slab foundation, insulate around the base of your home with bales of hay or garbage bags full of leaves (an excellent use for the fall bounty that falls on your lawn each year). This extra barrier will help keep the wind from penetrating under your home and help fight off the winter cold. If hay or leaves are not available to you and you already have snow, shovel it up against the base of your home to create a layer of insulation.
    • If your home has Ceiling fans, be sure to set the in the "Up" (or clockwise) position during the winter months. This allows the warm air that has collected to push to the outside walls, distributing the heat down evenly.
    • Preheat your Bed before jumping in at night by creating a Rice Heating Pad. Simply warm your heating pad in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, toss in your bed and wait 5 minutes before climbing in.
    • Check the duct work in your home, they may be crushed, dented, flattened, torn, etc. Be sure that the cracks and crevices at the joints are properly sealed, ensuring that the heat is not spilling out into your attic or walls. If your clothes dryer is vented outside, don't forget to make sure that a dryer vent seal is properly installed to prevent cold air from blowing in the duct, into your home. (This will also help prevent unwanted rodent problems!)
    • Cover those drains! Have you ever accidentally stepped over the drain in your shower in the middle of winter, only to feel like you stepped in a snow bank? When your sink, tub and shower drains are not in use keep them covered. For less than $1 you can purchase a rubber drain cover at the hardware store.
    • Change your Furnace filter monthly. Low cost filters are available at the hardware store. You will greatly increase the heater's efficiency by creating proper airflow. In addition, to make your home smell great, you can add a couple drops of essential oil such as peppermint, clove, cinnamon, etc to the filter. Each time the furnace kicks on the whole house will have the scent you applied to the filter.
    • Remember to turn back your thermostat at night. By turning your thermostat back 8º for 8 hours each night, you will reduce your annual heating bull by 10%. You can further save money by installing a programmable thermostat so you don't have to remember to do anything.
    • Contact your Heating Fuel company and ask them if they offer any discounts- some offer senior citizens discounts, good customer discounts (if you pay on time), Large Tank fill discounts and more. It never hurts to ask
    • Find a Fuel Co-Op in your Area- many areas offer a fuel co-op to gain access to majorly discounted oil rates, so for a $20-$25 up front fee, you could save upwards of 20% off your annual heating expenses
    • Use a Humidifier, an increase in humidity will automatically make the air feel warmer.
    • Use a can of expanding foam to fill in cut areas around pipes, like under your sink where the plumbing comes in, sealing off all of the gaps you you possibly can. Don't waste your
      money with caulking, it will fall apart and crack, use the expanding foam, that's what it's for. Bonus- it blocks spots where mice could come in.
    • Switch to flannel sheets and bedding
    • Close Curtains and blinds at night to help keep out the cold and open them during the day to allow the sun in and warm the room naturally.

    • If you have central heating or heating vents, make sure they are completely unobstructed by furniture or other objects. Dirty vents should be vacuum regularly to keep them free of dust, hair and other debris.

    What are your favorite tips for reducing the heating bill? Please feel free to share them below!

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    Comments 13 Comments
    1. Boudica's Avatar
      Boudica -
      We have home without a cellar, only a crawl space. We also have a portion of the living room (facing the south/west side) that is built out over an open space. This resulted in a very cold living room floor especially when winter winds blow. These are the changes I made to rectify the problem:

      1. The first change was to remove the expensive and inadequate electric wallboard heater in the living room and kitchen with a Rennai gas heaters.

      This eaqualizes the heat throughout the house zones.
      2. We removed the wallboard heater in the Master bedroom
      3. We installed 3 ceiling fans with light fixtures to circulate the heat in winter and dissipate the heat in summer. This compensates for the missing heater in the master bedroom when the door is kept open in the winter during the day. We still have electric wallboard heaters in the two smaller bedrooms but never use them. We retained the floor heater in the bathroom to speed up early morning warm up but do not use it otherwise.

      4. The next necessity was to have a carpenter install rigid foam insulation beneath the livingroom floor on the exposed end.

      5. We rolled out two layers of 4 mill plastic throughout the crawl spaces which keeps both the cold and moisture down. This helped tremendously in reducing the cold through the floors of the two small bedrooms which are closer to the ground than the rest of the house.

      6. I created a triple layer of temporary winter insulation around the open end of the living room base by inserting 1X1 strips into the ground just beneath the lip of the house to act as a back support for 2" rigid foam insulation cut to fit directly below the base. I followed up with running a skirting of aluminum Reflectix Aluminum insulated foil with bubble wrap in the middle. I kept @ 3 inches on the bottom that folds outward at a 45 degree angle to provide a base for anchoring in winter winds. All the tools needed are a hammer for the 1 x 1; an exacto blade to cut the foam insulation; a staple gun and a pair of scissors to cut the aluminum. I covered the aluminum foil with two inexpensive vinyl table cloths purchased at Walmart that match my house colors so it doesn't look tacky. Finally, I used my cement flower boarders to anchor the whole thing down for winter winds and it also provides a preventive barrier for when we use our snow scoops after each storm so there is no tearing of the insulation. It's held up fine. Removal takes @ 10 minutes in spring and we are toasty.
    1. angelsvn24's Avatar
      angelsvn24 -
      My family lives in a very small house, a 2 br ranch which believe it or not saves money in itself. We can close off the bedrooms until about an hour or two before bed. We use the sun to keep our electricity bill down by making use of mostly natural light. Several years ago, we installed new energy efficient windows and a skylight. These windows have reduced our energy bill tremendously, even though the initial expense is high. Our heating bill is around $50 a month and we keep the thermostat at 70 most of the time. In the basement, we use room sized rugs, to keep the floors comfortable enough to tread on barefoot. We use the rooms according to the months of the year, staying upstairs mostly in the winter and staying cool downstairs in the summer. We also shut our heat off as soon as the nights are about 60 degrees.
    1. my4mainecoons's Avatar
      my4mainecoons -
      Having grown up in Maine and lived in the Northeast all of my life here are a few tips that we use:

      1. Dress in Layers, even at home

      2. Wear WOOL - it's warm, it wicks moisture away keeping you from sweating or freezing

      3. Wear slippers or thick socks, don't go barefoot

      4. Toss some area throw rugs on your floors if you have hardwood or tile flooring

      5. Wear a Hat, they prevent heatloss.

      6. Drink Coffee or other warm beverages- come to think of it, I don't know of any Mainah that doesn't have a mug of coffee in her hand at all hours of the day

      7. Eat Soups and Stews- they're cheap, warm, filling and did I mention WARM.

      8. I learned this one last year from the site, take Cayenne Pepper capsules. Not only does it kill/prevent flu (imho) but it also increases your internal warmth and you feel LESS cold due to the increase in circulation.

      9. If you have a chimney, keep the damper closes. Chimneys create a nasty draft and yank the warm air from the room and pull it out

      10. Check your door thresholds- basically, if you can see light under the edge of your door or along the sides, the warm air is literally going right out it. There are
      usually screws in the threshhold that can be loosened or tightened. Make sure the door isn't dragging on the threshold and make sure that it doesnt interfere with
      opening and closing.

      11. If you have an attic with one of those drop down attic doors, put a strip of insulation on top of it. You wouldn't believe how much money goes right through that stupid access door!

      12. We shovel at least 2 feet of snow all the way around the house to seal the underneath. If you have an open foundation like we do, it doesn't take long for the wind to freeze the pipes. This keeps the wind from getting through.
    1. kimpossible59's Avatar
      kimpossible59 -
      this was a really interesting article, also I know that in our state we have energy programs that will come around and tell you where your losing heat, and they will wrap your hot water tank, help with insulation, fixing doors and windows, ect. it's a very good program, everyone should look into whether their state has such a program, it's a big help for many up here in cold maine, brrrrrrrrrrr
    1. Jinnty's Avatar
      Jinnty -
      I have lined my door curtains with sheets of hollow fibre such as is in duvets. They really help reduce heat loss and its cheap to do.
      My next job is to do the same on winter curtains.
      I also use the old fashioned door roll, again cheap but it works.

      Thanks for such an interesting article and all the great ideas.
    1. Holly777's Avatar
      Holly777 -
      We live in a 100 year old house and the boiler/radiator heating system is 50 years old. I had to quickly learn how to cover old windows with plastic sheeting and put that plastic strip on the bottom of the doors. I was on a website several years ago and got the idea from it to put foil (shiny side out) over cardboard fitted to the size of the rads to help direct the heat to the outside of the room instead of it going directly into the wall. I was amazed, but this really did help! Thanks for the article, I enjoyed it.
    1. ckarol's Avatar
      ckarol -
      Great advice. on saving I am going to give some a whirl
    1. ashley1727's Avatar
      ashley1727 -
      Our pipes froze three timed this year I never thought of putting snow around our skirting great idea!!
    1. AndreaGwyn's Avatar
      AndreaGwyn -
      I found using bubble wrap on the windows, then the window seal kits works amazing, out heat bill dropped by an average of $40/month this winter, with colder temperatures than last year. To apply the bubble wrap take a spray bottle spray the window, apply the bubble wrap with the bubbles facing out the window, using the large bubbles you can still see outside, but the small ones work well also.
    1. Tammy159's Avatar
      Tammy159 -
      I'm going to put bubble wrap on my windows for sure. $40/month less. WOW That;s about $300 a year. Thank you
    1. petmom's Avatar
      petmom -
      There was a bunch of great tips. Thank you to e eryone
    1. maddelena's Avatar
      maddelena -
      Get a decent thermostat and set at say 70 degrees in the day and 68 degrees at night and use plenty of blankets at night.
      Wear a sweater or a sweat shirt in the day time.
      Use flannel sheets on your bed and you will feel warmer right away when you get in bed.
      Flannel pajamas are great and if you are still cold, use a bed jacket or a sweater over them.
      Wear socks or half socks to keep your feet warmer.
    1. jodymarq's Avatar
      jodymarq -
      What about the draft dodgers that you can put at the bottom of doors? I heard homemade ones with sand or cat litter work pretty well. (Don't use rice unless you want to find a hole chewed in one end at some point)
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