ON THE LEVEL: Save Money on Utility Bills This Winter

Here’s some more great stuff from our friends at Hibbard Construction.

Our summer tans have long since faded, the patio furniture and BBQ grill have been stored and the first winter snowfall has already hit the Treasure Valley.  It is safe to say winter has officially arrived and for many so have enormous heating costs.

The television and web are full of great ideas on how to save money on energy costs, but more often than not it takes money to save money. Over the course of building homes for the last 40 years, Hibbard Construction employs building practices to ensure the energy efficiency of our homes.

In 2009, we conducted a survey of our past clients from the last 15 years and inquired about the energy costs of their “Hibbard Home”.  We were delighted to learn that our homes are still some of the most energy efficient homes built and that our customer’s energy costs are still well below the average cost of most homeowners with similar sized homes.

For many, making the initial investment on an energy efficient new home or on major home improvement projects to make a home more energy efficient just isn’t in the cards this year.

But, that doesn’t mean you are out of options. There are some simple things you can do to cut your heating costs. Below you will find nine tips on how to save money on energy bills without breaking the bank. Each tip should cost from nothing to very little. With a little ingenuity you can reduce your heating bills this winter.

1.      Bundle up! Running around with shorts and a tank top in the middle of winter just doesn’t make much sense. Winter is winter because it is cold, so act like it even if you’re just sitting around the house. Put on a sweater or sweatshirt; wear socks and fuzzy slippers (who isn’t more comfortable in their favorite sweats anyways?). Place a soft, comfy blanket on the couch to cuddle up in while watching TV, reading or chatting with friends. Put throw rugs on hardwood and tile floors to eliminate the shock of the ice-cold surfaces. It doesn’t cost anything to wear warmer clothes inside and by doing so you can keep the temperature inside the house a few degrees cooler and save big.

2.       Not all doors and windows are created equal and not all are used in the winter, so plastic up the windows and doors that are going to go unused. There are window kits for sale for about $5 per window. These can help to eliminate drafts to keep in the heat! 

3.      Turn the heat down at night and when no one is home. This doesn’t mean turn the heat to 40 degrees, but turning it down to 60 overnight or while you’re away can make a big difference. Think about it; why keep it 70 degrees when you’re either sleeping (add an extra blanket to your bed) or out of the house for more than 12 hours a day? You can adjust the thermostat manually for free, but if you want to spend a few bucks a programmable thermostat is a great investment.

4.      After baking cookies or making dinner in the oven, leave the door open a crack. There’s a lot of heat in that oven, so letting it escape puts the heat to good use by warming up the kitchen and surrounding rooms.  This means the furnace has to run a little bit less.

5.      Use a space heater only in the current room you are occupying (remember to use caution with space heaters, as they are a very common source of home fires). This will take the nip out of the air to make you feel more comfortable without heating all of the other rooms in the house and wasting energy.

6.      Use silicone to fill any cracks in doors, windows, etc, including the basement floor and walls. You would be surprised at how much heat is lost through cracks that seem insignificant. A tube of caulk or silicone will only run you a few dollars and, it’s an easy weekend project.

7.      Close any vents going to rooms that are not used regularly. That guest room that sits empty when you don’t have any guests? Close the door and the vents. Doing so, can easily cut 100-200 square feet off of your energy footprint.

8.      Put weather stripping around windows and doors. Weather stripping helps quite a bit, especially in older homes. You’d be surprised how the seals around your doors and windows can deteriorate over time.

9.      Cover up the attic entry with plastic, pieces of insulation, old blankets, weather stripping, saran wrap, painter drop cloth, or even a few old shirts. Any of it will help to slow, if not, stop, the drafts and warm air from floating away through your roof. Heat rises and may be getting pulled right up through the attic so you may not notice a cold draft even though your expensive hot air is floating away.

These tips won’t save you thousands like installing all new energy efficient windows would.  But they will help you to save as much as possible and make a noticeable difference on your heating bill and take but a few minutes and maybe a few dollars to implement.

We would look forward to hearing from you regarding questions you may have or discussing ideas and developing a plan that would fit your budget if you are looking to make energy efficient improvements to save more money in the long run.

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~ by The Oetken Group on December 22, 2010.

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