On a cold February morning in Western Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil was the bearer of bad news for millions of Americans who’ve just about had enough of Old Man Winter. The world’s most well-known groundhog, once again, saw his shadow, an indication that there’ll be another month and a half of winter before the warm temperatures of spring make their long-awaited return.
It’s been a brutal stretch of wintry conditions for much of the Eastern half of the United States. In Buffalo, New York, residents were greeted with a Thanksgiving surprise, after more than five feet of snow fell on the region over two days. More recently, in New England, what little snow the region had seen Mother Nature more than made up for. In Worcester, Massachusetts, the Bay State’s second-largest city was blanketed in nearly three feet of snow, only to see 18 more inches of the white stuff less than a week later.
“Nearly half of all homeowners’ energy bill expenses goes toward the cost of heating.”
In short, winter is most definitely here, and as Punxsutawney Phil has forecast, bone-chilling cold won’t be going anywhere for quite awhile. With this in mind, here are a few suggestions that can help save you some money on your home heating bill.
Oil prices way down
Roughly 6 million homeowners in the U.S. use heating oil to provide warmth to their residences. However, thanks to a glut of oil on the market, prices have come down considerably. Chris Lafakis, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics, told the Wall Street Journal that Northeast residents could save a combined $3 billion thanks to prices being so low. Translation: If you need to fill up on oil, it’s a good idea to get this taken care of now before prices go back up.
Install programmable thermostat
Of course, what determines how much oil you use is your thermostat. Ideally, keep your thermostat at the same temperature as consistently as possible. The variation in temperature is what increases the rate of consumption. Also, you might want to consider installing a thermostat that automatically adjusts to a lower temperature at night or when no one is at home.
Replace weatherstripping if necessary
You’d be surprised by how much the little things affect how warmth is trapped inside. Besides opening and closing the door, the tiny crevices around windows leak out the heat from inside. As noted by Popular Mechanics, as much as 12 percent of a home’s heat is lost around these drafty areas. You can fix this by using weather stripping to seal them off. You should be able to tell if draftiness is a problem by feeling along the frames of your doors and windows.
Take a look at your plug outlets
Another area of the home that you should take a look at are your plug outlets. Home maintenance experts suggest that if you remove the cover plates that house the plug receptacles, you should be able to see if there are any gaps. These can be filled with acrylic latex caulk, which can be found at most hardware stores.
Use a space heater
To preserve your home heating oil, a great way to take the nip out of the air is with a space heater. These are convenient in that they’re portable and pump in warmth relatively quickly. Just be sure they’re positioned several feet away from furnishings that may be flammable. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates around 25,000 residential fires are caused by space heaters every year. New models often have up-to-date safety features, noted by the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label, but if you’re still using a model from last decade, it may be time to upgrade.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, space heating is the largest energy expense for the average homeowner. Roughly 45 percent of energy bill spending goes toward heat.
You can lower that percentage with these suggestions, the savings of which will provide you with a warm feeling all on their own.