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How to Lower Your Heating Bills & Save Money on Winter Energy Costs

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As a longtime environmentalist, I’ve always made a point of trying to save energy at home. Turning off unused lights and doing my laundry in cold water never posed a problem for me, but there was one energy-saving tip I struggled with: turning down the thermostat in winter.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the cost savings and benefits to the planet. The problem is I’m just a wimp when it comes to the cold. If I turned down my thermostat from 70 degrees F to 60 degrees F, I’d shiver all winter long, and the savings just aren’t worth it to me.

But since I still care about my carbon footprint, I’ve kept searching for ways around this problem. Over the years, I’ve learned a series of strategies to lower my winter energy use without freezing. It’s all about using heat when and where you need it most, so none goes to waste.

Stay Comfortable at Lower Temperatures

The first key to lowering your winter heating costs is realizing you don’t always need to keep your whole house warm. You only need to keep yourself warm. There are plenty of tools, from warm sweaters to window treatments, that can help you do that without turning up the thermostat.

Wear More Layers

There’s no point in heating your house to 80 degrees F in the winter so you can walk around in a T-shirt. Instead, turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater — and another sweater over that. The more layers you add, the lower you can set your thermostat and still feel comfortable.

These days, I usually wear at least three layers (and sometimes four) when working at home in wintertime. I wear either long johns or fleece-lined tights under my pants, and on top, I have a shirt, a pullover, and a cardigan. If I’m still cold, I throw on a cover-up I made from a cheap fleece blanket with a hole cut out for my head, like a poncho. It works just like those wearable blankets with sleeves, but it’s a lot cheaper.

Don’t forget your head and feet, either. Although scientists years ago debunked the myth that you lose most of your body heat through your head, it is true your head and chest are more sensitive to temperature changes than the rest of your body. Thus, putting on a hat makes you feel warmer, even if it raises your actual body temperature very little. And since Harvard Men’s Health Watch notes that many people naturally feel the most cold in their feet, warm socks and shoes or cozy slippers can also make a big difference.

Cover Bare Floors

If shoes aren’t allowed in your home or if you just can’t get comfortable walking around the house with them on, keep your feet warm — and thus the rest of you — by covering bare floors with rugs. When you stand on a cold tile or hardwood floor in bare feet, it feels like it’s sucking all the heat out of your body. Adding some inexpensive rugs in the areas where you walk around most reduces the temptation to turn up the thermostat just to keep your tootsies warm.

Use Fans Effectively

Everyone knows you can use a ceiling fan to stay cool in the summertime. However, you might not realize ceiling fans can also help keep your home warmer in the winter. The trick is to reverse the fan’s direction, which you can usually do with a switch on the side. (Make sure the fan is off before switching its direction to avoid damaging the motor.)

Most ceiling fans direct airflow downward when they’re turning counterclockwise, creating a breeze that keeps you cool. When you reverse its spin, the fan directs airflow upward, pulling cooler air from floor level up toward the ceiling and sending warm air — which has a natural tendency to rise — back down toward the floor. That’s particularly useful in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings, where hot air can get trapped near the ceiling.

However, the rush of air created by a ceiling fan can still be chilling, even if it’s directed upward. You can reduce this problem by setting the fan on low speed, but you might still find it chilly if you’re sitting right beneath the fan. If you have this problem, you can turn off the fan whenever you’re in the room and turn it back on when you leave — precisely the opposite of what you’d do with a fan used for cooling.

Add Humidity

Jeff Starkey and Anne Marie Corbalis, two home-heating experts interviewed by Real Simple, say that adding moisture to dry winter air can make it feel warmer. Water in the air holds heat, which is why humidity can be so oppressive in the summertime. A 90-degree day in a humid climate feels much hotter than the same temperature in a dry one.

However, in winter, the warmer feeling of moist air is a plus. Running a humidifier at the same time as your home heating system can allow you to set the temperature lower and still feel comfortable. And as an extra perk, it reduces static electricity in dry air that can cause unpleasant shocks. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can add moisture to the air by boiling water on the stove or taking a hot shower without turning on the bathroom ventilation fan.

Use the Heat You Have

Winter is a fantastic time for baking bread or homemade desserts. Not only does a warm slice of bread taste great on a cold day, the heat from the oven also helps warm up your kitchen. Take advantage of this warming effect by using your oven as much as possible in the winter. Choose roasted or baked family dinners, such as roasted chicken, casseroles, or homemade pizza.

In most cases, the residual heat from the oven will continue to warm the room even after you remove your food from the oven — quickly if you leave the oven door open, or more slowly if it’s closed. However, if you have an internally vented oven, the hot air can escape through the vents if the door is closed, so you must open it if you want to capture that heat. (For safety’s sake, though, don’t leave a hot oven door open if you have small children or pets that could burn themselves on it.)

You can capture heat from other sources as well. For instance, if you take a hot bath, don’t just pull the plug and send all that hot water down the drain. Let it cool off first and release its heat into the air. That also adds some humidity, which makes the air feel even warmer.

You can also use sunlight coming through your windows to warm your home naturally. Just open up the curtains or blinds on your sunniest windows — usually those on the south side of the house — during daylight hours. At night, close them back up again so the room’s warmth doesn’t escape through the windows.

Heat Yourself, Not the House

A personal heater is any device that warms you directly rather than the house or the room you’re in. With just a small amount of energy, they can keep you toasty warm even when the air around you is quite chilly.

Personal warming devices include:

  • Heating Pads. Many people use heating pads for therapeutic purposes, but they can also be useful just for keeping warm. There are several kinds to choose from: electric heating pads that plug into the wall, microwaveable pads filled with gel or heat-absorbing pellets, single-use chemical hand warmers, and old-fashioned hot water bottles. You can even make your own microwave heating pad by filling a cloth pouch or an old sock with rice and sewing or tying it shut.
  • Electric Blankets and Mats. Adding an electric blanket to your bed can keep you warm all night in a cold room. For even less energy, you can turn it on for just a few minutes before bed to warm up the sheets before you climb in. Electric blankets aren’t just for the bed, either. You can also use them to warm up a chair or couch or warm yourself directly while sitting in it. Or you can use a heated mat on the floor to keep your feet warm while sitting at a desk.
  • Heated Slippers. The ultimate treat for cold feet is a pair of heated slippers. Some pairs are electrical and plug directly into the wall, some charge via a USB cable, and some heat up in the microwave.
  • Warming Bricks. One of the oldest — and simplest — tricks for warming yourself is to cuddle up to a heated brick. The material absorbs heat and slowly releases it, delivering warmth for hours. You can heat an ordinary clay brick in the oven or use a flat clay disk made for warming bread, which fits neatly into the seat of a chair. Wrap it in a towel first so you don’t burn yourself on the hot clay.
  • Hot Drinks. Finally, don’t overlook the warming power of a nice hot cup of tea — or another drink of choice, such as coffee, cocoa, cider, or broth. Contrary to popular belief, alcoholic beverages are not the right choice for warming you up. According to American Addiction Centers, alcohol dilates your blood vessels, making you feel warmer when your body is actually more vulnerable to the cold.

Heat Only the Rooms You’re Using

Just as it takes less energy to warm your body than a whole room, it typically takes less energy to warm one room than the entire house. Thus, one good way to reduce your utility bill is to heat only the areas you’re using.

One way to do that is with zoned heating. A zoned heating system divides the home into several heating zones, each with its own thermostat. If your house has this kind of system, you can save energy by turning the heat up to a comfortable temperature in the part of the house you’re using and keeping it low elsewhere.

But even if it doesn’t, there are other ways to heat a single room at a time. Don’t attempt to create your own zoned system by closing heating vents in unused rooms. As Angie’s List explains, that can reduce your heating system’s efficiency or even damage the furnace. Instead, try using a heater designed for a smaller space.

Space Heaters

There are several kinds of heaters that warm a single room or even a smaller space within a room, including:

  • Combustion Heaters. These heaters produce heat by burning fuels like natural gas or kerosene. Vented combustion heaters install on an exterior wall and vent their exhaust gases to the outdoors. There are also unvented heaters, but the United States Department of Energy (DOE) recommends against using these indoors since they can release harmful gases into your living space.
  • Convection Heaters. These electric heaters are filled with a liquid, such as oil, that circulates as it’s heated. The motion of the hot liquid creates currents of warm air that distribute heat throughout a whole room. They take longer to warm up than a radiant heater, but they retain their heat longer, making them more efficient for heating a room over a long period. A typical oil radiator costs between $50 and $100 and runs at 1,500 watts.
  • Radiant Electric Heaters. These emit infrared radiation that directly heats whatever’s in front of them. If you only need to heat one spot in a room, aiming a radiant heater at that spot is a quick and efficient way to do it. Radiant heaters are most efficient if you’re only using a room briefly since they heat just the space you’re using, not the whole room. A small radiant heater typically uses around 1,500 watts of electricity and costs less than $50.
  • Fan Heaters. This type of space heater combines a radiant heater with a fan to distribute the heat. That makes them faster at heating a room but also less efficient since it takes extra electricity to run the fan. These heaters vary widely in price, from around $25 for a basic fan heater to over $400 for a high-end model.

According to the DOE, using a space heater isn’t always more cost-effective than just turning up the heat. It depends on how efficient your heating system is, how much energy the heater uses, and the amounts you pay for electricity and heating fuel. There’s no easy way to compare these costs, but the DOE says a space heater is often cheaper as long as you’re using it only in one room.

Fireplaces

There’s one other type of “space heater” that doesn’t use electricity: a fireplace. A roaring fire is an excellent source of both hygge (the Danish word for a cozy atmosphere) and heat. On a day that’s just slightly chilly, it’s also  cost-effective to light a fire instead of running the heating system, especially if you cut the wood yourself for free.

However, like electric space heaters, a wood-burning fire isn’t always the cheapest choice. According to the DOE, if you run the heating system at the same time as an old-fashioned open fireplace — even with the thermostat turned down — it actually adds to your heating bill. The heated air that escapes through the chimney outweighs the heat produced by the fire itself.

Newer fireplaces, by contrast, typically have high-efficiency inserts. These are like wood stoves that fit into the fireplace box and use the same chimney, and they’re nearly as efficient as a stove for heating.

If you have an old-school fireplace, you can make it more cost-effective by:

  • Turning down the thermostat to between 50 degrees F and 55 degrees F whenever you use it
  • Either opening the dampers in the bottom of the firebox or opening the nearest window by about an inch and closing the doors into the room while a fire is burning, which reduces the amount of warmed air the fireplace can pull out of the rest of the house
  • Adding glass doors, a dedicated air supply for the fireplace, and a heat-recovery system (for instance, a grate made of C-shaped metal tubes can draw cool room air into the fireplace and direct warmed air back into the room)

Turn the Heat Off When You Don’t Need It

Just as you can save energy by adding heat only where you need it, you can do the same by using your heating system only when you need it. There’s no point in keeping your home at a toasty 70 degrees F all day while you’re out at work or all night while you’re tucked snugly in bed under several layers of blankets. According to the DOE, you can slash your heating bill as much as 10% by turning down the heat by 7 degrees F to 10 degrees F at these times.

The low-tech way to do that is to simply turn down the thermostat when you go to bed or leave for work in the morning and turn it up again when you get up or come home. However, doing that means you’ll spend a chilly hour or so waiting for the house to warm back up every morning and evening. With an inexpensive programmable thermostat, you can automatically set the temperature to the level you want at specific times of day.

Some people fear that if they let the house cool off, the furnace will use more energy bringing it back to temperature than it would to keep it warm continuously. However, as the DOE explains, that just isn’t true. Whenever your house is warm, it loses heat to the cooler outdoors, so if you keep it warm all the time, it’s continuously losing heat and adding more from the furnace. But once the house drops below its average temperature, it loses heat more slowly, so the total amount you lose and have to add back is less.


Don’t Let Heat Escape

If your home is drafty, a lot of the money you spend to heat it is literally going out the window — or under the door, through the roof, wherever your home loses heat the fastest. You can stop the loss of heat — and cash — by plugging these leaks. You don’t necessarily need to completely winterize your home, but the more sources of heat loss you can find and fix, the more you lower your bill.

These steps can help you keep more heat in your home.

Get an Energy Audit

home energy audit can help you figure out which parts of your home are leaking heat. You can get a rough idea of where the problem spots are with a do-it-yourself audit that takes a couple of hours. The DOE offers instructions on how to perform one. Places to look for air leaks include:

  • Along baseboards or edges of floors
  • At the edges between walls and ceilings
  • Outside your home in spots where two different building materials meet
  • Window and door frames
  • Around lighting and plumbing fixtures
  • Electrical outlets and switches
  • Places where electric lines, pipes, or TV and phone lines enter the house
  • Fireplaces and chimneys
  • Vents, fans, and in-wall air conditioners
  • Attic access hatches

A professional audit can give you an even more detailed picture of heat loss in your home. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost for a professional energy audit is around $420. Check the website of your utility company to see if it offers energy audits at a discounted price.

Seal Leaks

Once you know where the air leaks in your home are, seal them up as thoroughly as possible. Ways to do this include:

  • Caulking cracks in walls and gaps around pipes, wires, ducts, or door and window frames
  • Applying weatherstripping around the doors and windows themselves
  • Adding door sweeps under exterior doors
  • Using foam sealant on larger gaps in areas such as baseboards and windows
  • Placing covers over attic stairs and kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans
  • Installing foam gaskets behind wall switch and outlet cover plates
  • Adding a seal on your dryer vent

Stopping drafts is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make your home warmer. You’ll feel the difference right away, and you’ll see it on your heating bill as your furnace is no longer working overtime to make up for the loss of warm air.

However, sealing air leaks is only cost-effective if you do the work yourself. In a 2012 interview with Phys.org, building-science consultant Michael Blasnik reports that caulking and weatherstripping doors and windows can save homeowners $7 to $28 per year ($8 to $32 in 2020 dollars). If you do this job yourself, the materials you use could pay for themselves in a year or less. But if you hire a professional to do it, it will be many years — if ever — before the energy savings offset the cost of the repair.

Reduce Heat Loss From the Fireplace

One particular area where heat tends to escape is the fireplace. If your home has one, you can minimize heat loss by keeping the flue damper closed securely when you aren’t using the fireplace. Leaving it open is like keeping a window wide open, sending warm air from your house straight up the chimney.

Even if the damper is closed, air can still escape if the seal isn’t tight. Check it and make it as snug as possible to minimize heat loss. If you never use your fireplace at all, permanently plug and seal the chimney flue to block heat loss as fully as possible.

Air can also leak out around your fireplace’s hearth and chimney. Check for leaks in this area, and seal them with special caulk designed to withstand high temperatures.

Fireplace Living Room Interior Design Furniture

Cover Windows

Even if your windows aren’t drafty, they still lose heat much faster than a wall. According to the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, the R-value (a measure of how well a material insulates) of a single pane of glass is only 0.03 compared to 13 to 19 (represented as R13 to R19) for an insulated wall. Double-pane windows lose much less heat than single-pane ones, but even the most efficient windows lose more than a solid wall.

You can reduce heat loss from your windows — especially the inefficient single-pane kind — by covering them with storm windows, which add an extra layer of protection. If you don’t have storm windows, a layer of clear plastic taped snugly to the inside of the window frame serves the same purpose. Thick insulating curtains or window shades can also reduce heat loss from your windows at night.

Replacing drafty old windows with newer efficient ones is also an energy-saving option. However, according to Blasnik, the savings are unlikely to pay for the cost of the windows. In a study for a Boston-area utility company, he found that replacing 15 old windows with newer ones would cost around $7,000 ($7,925 in 2020 dollars). Even if the new windows save you $125 per year on your heating bill, they’d take over 60 years to pay for themselves.

Add Insulation

Although walls hold heat in better than windows, they still lose some. You can slow heat loss through your walls and ceilings by adding insulation.

The amount of insulation you need depends on the climate in your area. According to the Insulation Institute, people living in the warmest parts of the U.S., such as Hawaii, should aim for an R value of 30 to 49 in the attic, 13 to 15 in walls, and 13 in floors. In the coldest areas, such as Alaska, you need an R value of 49 to 60 in the attic, 13 to 21 in walls, and 25 to 30 in floors.

Dan DiClerico, another home expert interviewed by Real Simple, says any home built before 1980 is likely to need upgrades to the insulation. One way to tell if your home is underinsulated is to observe your roof after a snowfall. If the snow disappears quickly or melts and refreezes to form icicles, that means heat is escaping through your roof and melting the snow — a sign you could use more insulation.

Adding insulation costs a lot more than most winterizing projects you can do at home. According to HomeAdvisor, paying a professional to insulate your attic can cost $1,700 to $2,100, depending on the material you use. However, doing it yourself can be much cheaper. For instance, back in 2008, my husband and I added a layer of R25 fiberglass insulation to our attic (on top of the existing R19 insulation) for around $875, or $1,056 in 2020 dollars.

Moreover, adding insulation is one of the best ways to reduce your energy bill. DiClerico says bringing your insulation up to par could save you around 10% on your energy bill. According to the DOE, this project can pay for itself within a few years. To calculate the specific payback time for your home, visit the DOE’s Home Energy Saver calculator.


Reduce Water Heating Costs

There’s one more place to look for savings on your home heating bill: your water heater. According to the DOE, water heating accounts for about 18% of a typical home’s energy use.

Some manufacturers put the water heaters’ default setting at 140 degrees F, but the DOE says this heat level is wasteful and possibly dangerous, as water that hot can scald you straight out of the tap. Turning down the temperature to 120 degrees F is safer, saves energy, and reduces mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes. By turning it down to 120 degrees F, the DOE estimates you can save over $450 per year.

However, there are a few situations in which it makes sense to keep your water heater temperature between 130 degrees F and 140 degrees F. If you have a dishwasher without a booster heater, it may need water this hot for optimum cleaning. Also, water at 120 degrees F isn’t hot enough to kill bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease. Although that isn’t a significant risk for most people, it could be worth keeping your water tank at 140 degrees F if you have a suppressed immune system or chronic respiratory problems.

Another way to save energy on water heating is to make sure the water tank itself is well insulated. Most modern tank heaters have a layer of insulation that keeps them cool to the touch. However, according to the DOE, if you have an older tank that feels warm to the touch, covering it with a premade jacket or blanket can cut your water heating costs by 7% to 16%. A water heater blanket costs between $20 and $30 and should pay for itself in about a year.

You can also save energy by insulating the pipes that carry your hot water. The DOE says insulated pipes can keep water 2 degrees F to 4 degrees F warmer than uninsulated ones. Adding insulation allows you to turn down the water temperature without feeling cold and reduces the amount of time you have to wait for hot water in your shower.

Paying a professional to insulate your pipes isn’t cost-effective unless it’s part of a larger remodeling project. However, covering the pipes yourself with foam sleeves costs only $10 to $15 and can save you 3% to 4% on your energy bill. The project takes around three hours and requires no special plumbing skills.

Finally, anything that reduces your overall hot water use also reduces the money you spend on heating it. You can save water at home by taking showers instead of baths, keeping showers short, installing water-saving showerheads and faucet aerators, washing only full loads of clothes and dishes, and doing laundry in cold water.


Maintain Your Heating System

If your heating system isn’t in proper condition, it could be using more energy than it really needs. To keep your system running at peak efficiency, follow these steps:

  • Get Your System Tuned Up Regularly. DiClerico recommends calling in an HVAC professional to inspect your heating system — furnace, boiler, or heat pump — and make any necessary adjustments. That allows you to spot small problems early and avoid a costly breakdown in the middle of winter. Blasnik agrees that regular checks are essential for keeping your system running safely and preventing problems, but he thinks you only need to do it once every three to five years. He says you should expect to pay up to $42 for a furnace inspection, while DiClerico says it can cost $80 to $200.
  • Get Your Ducts Inspected. Along with your furnace, it’s worth having the HVAC professional take a look at your ducts if you have a forced-air heating system. DiClerico says as much as 30% of heated air escapes through leaks in ductwork. It takes a professional to fix a leak, but it can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
  • Change Furnace Filters. If you have a forced-air furnace, replace the air filter regularly. A filter that’s heavily clogged with dirt restricts the airflow, making your furnace work harder. Changing it for a new one that costs $15 to $30 doesn’t save you a lot of money, but it usually pays for itself, and it helps your furnace last longer. Though the DOE suggests changing your filter every month, DiClerico and Blasnik agree that’s overkill. DiClerico suggests replacing the filter at the start of the winter and at least once more before spring, while Blasnik says once per season is enough. However, he adds that if you have special high-efficiency filters that trap allergens, you should follow the filter’s instructions.
  • Clean Wood Stoves. If you heat your home with a wood stove or pellet heater, clean the flue vent regularly, and clean the inside of the stove with a wire brush. Once per year, have a chimney sweep clean and inspect your chimney. The best time to do that is at the start of the heating season. For pellet stoves, inspect fans and motors regularly and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions for running and maintaining the stove.
  • Maintain Heat Pumps. If you use a heat pump, clean or change the filters as needed — up to once per month — and clean the outdoor coils whenever they look dirty. Keep the outdoor unit clear of vegetation and other clutter, which can block airflow and hamper the system’s performance. Also, turn off power to the fan and clean it occasionally. Keep the supply and return registers inside your home clean, and straighten their fins if they get bent. Aside from that, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance.

Choose a New Heating System Wisely

No matter how carefully you maintain your heating system, you’ll eventually need to replace it. When that time comes, don’t automatically replace it with the same type of system you had before — say, a new oil furnace to replace an old one. Instead, weigh the costs and benefits of different heating systems, including fuel costs.

Types of heating system include:

  • Furnaces. A furnace heats air and distributes it throughout the home through a network of ducts. Furnaces can run on natural gas, oil, or propane. According to the DOE, furnaces are inexpensive to install and usually last 15 to 30 years. However, they’re also loud and vary widely in efficiency. Some oil and gas furnaces convert only around 56% of the energy contained in the fuel they burn into heat, while others capture over 98% of this energy. The less efficient your furnace is, the more it will cost you in fuel over its lifetime.
  • Boilers. A boiler heats water and circulates either hot water or steam through pipes connected to radiators throughout the home. Boilers can use all the same types of fuel as furnaces, and some also run on biodiesel. They last 15 to 30 years and range in efficiency from 50% to 90%. Boilers make it easy to use zone heating by merely turning off some radiators, but they’re more expensive to install than furnaces.
  • Wood and Pellet Heaters. Some wood and pellet stoves are powerful enough to heat a medium-size modern home. Modern stoves are much cleaner and more efficient than old ones, but they still produce a lot more air pollutants than other heating systems. Because of that, they’re illegal in some areas.
  • Electric Heat. An electric resistance heating system works by converting electricity directly to heat — like a space heater, only bigger. These systems are very inexpensive to install and have a lifespan of 20 years or more. However, they’re usually much more expensive to operate than fuel-fired furnaces or boilers.
  • Heat Pumps. The most efficient way to heat your home with electricity is to use a heat pump. They work by pulling heat from the surrounding air — much like an air conditioner in reverse. In fact, many of them can double as an air conditioner during the summer. Heat pumps are very efficient for both heating and cooling, using about half as much electricity as resistance heating. However, they cost more to install than a furnace or boiler, and their expected lifespan is only 15 years. Geothermal heat pumps, which pull heat from the ground rather than the air, can be even more efficient, but they also cost more to install.
  • Active Solar Heating. In an active solar heating system, the sun heats air or liquid in a solar collector. Because these systems run on free sunlight, they’re very cheap to operate. However, they usually aren’t powerful enough to heat a whole home by themselves. That means you typically need a backup heat source, making the entire system more expensive. Active solar systems have a lifespan of about 20 years.

The costs of installing and running any heating system depend on the specific costs for equipment, labor, and fuel in your area. You can use Home Advisor to get an estimate of the cost of installing a particular system where you live, and the heating system cost calculator from Washington State University can help you calculate its operating cost. Add together the cost of installing the system and powering it over its expected lifetime to find the total cost to own it. Then use that number to compare the overall costs of different types of systems.

Note that some types of heating systems qualify for green energy tax credits, which can lower their initial cost. This credit can tip the balance in favor of a system that costs more to install upfront but saves money over its lifetime. Visit the Energy Star website to find out about federal tax credits, and check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to learn about state and local credits.


Final Word

There’s one more thing you can do to help keep your winter heating bills under control: Find out if your utility company offers “budget billing.” It doesn’t actually lower your energy use, but it can make your bill more manageable.

With this system, the utility looks at your overall energy use over the past year or two and then sends you a bill each month for the average amount. Instead of getting hit with an extra-steep bill when the cold weather hits, you spread out your winter heating costs over the whole year. Likewise, if you live in a warm climate, it can help you avoid high bills for summer cooling costs.

By combining this tip with those to help you reduce waste and keep your thermostat lower, you can save money while living green. And best of all, you can do it while staying warm and comfy.

Do you have any other tips for saving money on heating?

Amy Livingston
Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, "And from that you make a living?" She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

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