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10 Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill this Winter

Person with a calculator and piggy bank with money on the table as they take notes

As winter approaches, it’s probably important to you and your budget to find ways to save on your heating bill to manage your household expenses effectively. Implementing energy-saving tips for winter can significantly impact your budget, freeing up resources for other essential needs or savings. From upgrading your lighting to insulation, these ten strategies offer practical steps to save on your heating bill and keep your family warm while reducing long-term energy costs.

1. Change Your Filters

Regularly changing your HVAC filters is an affordable yet effective way to improve system efficiency and save money. It doesn’t matter if you have the newest HVAC technology if your air filters are dirty. Dirty filters restrict airflow, forcing the system to work harder, leading to higher energy usage and costs. By investing in new filters, you can ensure cleaner air, a well-functioning system, and lower heating bills, providing a simple solution for cost and energy savings.

In general, you should change your HVAC air filters every 30 to 90 days but it may be different depending on the brand and type of air filter you use in your system. Talk with your HVAC technician for more specific advice.

2. Adjust Your Thermostat

Lowering indoor temperatures slightly, especially while you’re away or asleep, can significantly cut heating costs in winter. Consider layering clothing or using blankets to stay warm without over-relying on your heating system. Use the programming features of smart thermostats to set energy-efficient schedules, adjusting the temperature according to when you’re home, asleep, or away. These small changes can lead to meaningful savings on your electric bill in winter while maintaining a comfortable home environment.

3. Check Your Water Heater Temperature

Your water heater can be a significant contributor to your heating bill. By checking and adjusting its temperature, you can optimize energy usage. Most heaters are set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit by manufacturers, but lowering it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit provides sufficiently hot water for most households, reducing energy costs by 6-10 percent. This simple adjustment not only saves money but also extends the life of the heater by slowing mineral buildup and corrosion in your pipes. Also, consider insulating it.

If your water heater is noisy and smelly, you frequently run out of hot water, or the water is discolored it may be time to replace it. Upgrading to a tankless water heater might be a good fit for your family and will help you save on your heating bill.

4. Efficient Lighting and Appliances

Switching to energy-efficient lighting and appliances can significantly reduce your energy bill. A simple way to switch is by buying LED bulbs, for instance, which use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents. If you are looking to replace older appliances look for energy-efficient appliances, such as ENERGY STAR-rated products, which use less electricity and water, reducing your utility costs. These upgrades not only lower your energy consumption and heating bills but also contribute to a more sustainable environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

You can also consider home automation that will automate lighting, monitor energy consumption, put smart appliances into energy-saving modes, and put devices into standby mode so they aren’t drawing power.

5. Home Insulation

Sealing drafts in your home can significantly reduce heating costs by preventing warm air from escaping and cold air from entering. Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal windows and doors. Insulating curtains trap heat inside, further reducing heat loss. Also, consider insulating your water heater and pipes, which can prevent standby heat losses and save around 7-16 percent in water heating costs. These simple steps can collectively lead to substantial savings on your energy bills.

6. Close Your Fireplace When Not in Use

A fireplace can be a major source of heat loss when not in use. The chimney acts like a giant straw, drawing your home’s heated air up and out. By closing the fireplace damper when it’s not in use, you prevent warm air from escaping and cold air from entering. This helps maintain a consistent temperature in your home, reducing the need for your heating system to work harder, thus saving energy and reducing your heating bills.

7. Seal Off Unused Rooms

Sealing off HVAC vents in unused rooms can help reduce energy usage by directing airflow only to areas in use, potentially lowering your energy bill. However, it’s crucial not to block too many vents. Your HVAC system is designed to distribute air evenly throughout your home. Blocking too many vents can cause pressure imbalances, forcing the system to work harder and potentially leading to wear and tear or even system failure. Always consult with an HVAC professional before making significant changes to your air distribution.

8. Get Your Air Ducts Inspected & Cleaned

Air ducts are an important part of your HVAC system. If they are poorly sized, sealed, or insulated it will contribute to higher energy bills. A thorough air duct inspection and cleaning can significantly improve your home’s air quality by removing accumulated dust, dirt, and other contaminants. It can also reduce allergens, unpleasant odors, and the need for costly repairs. During an inspection problem areas can be addressed and sealed or insulated.

As an alternative, consider installing an electric heat pump ductless system, which offers zoned options for efficient heating and cooling without the need for ductwork. This can help significantly lower your energy consumption and costs while maintaining comfortable temperatures in specific areas of your home. Switching from gas to electric can give you access to ductless inverter technology that heats up quickly and only uses the energy you need. It will also give you the versatility of a cooling system in summer.

9. Invest in High-Efficiency Upgrades

High-efficiency upgrades to your home can significantly reduce heating bills. Improving insulation, installing energy-efficient windows, and upgrading appliances are all effective ways to conserve energy and lower costs. For those considering a major upgrade, heat pumps are a popular choice for their efficiency and reduced fossil fuel usage.

Look at HVAC systems that are two-stage or variable speed vs single-speed. While they offer significant energy bill savings, they also tend to have higher upfront costs. However, these heating systems operate with improved efficiency, fewer on/off cycles, better temperature control, and longer lifespans. Jacobs is equipped to assist with heat pump or furnace installations, ensuring you reap the full benefits of these high-efficiency HVAC upgrades.

10. Schedule Regular Maintenance

Regular HVAC maintenance is key to extending the lifespan of your system and ensuring efficient operation. During a maintenance visit, professionals will clean and inspect your system, identify and fix small issues before they become major problems, and ensure the system is running at optimal efficiency. This not only helps prevent unexpected breakdowns but also keeps your energy bills low by reducing energy waste.

If you notice your furnace regularly cycling, making noises, or just not heating it is time to call in an expert for a furnace repair to avoid costly energy bills.

Portland Heating Experts Since 1952

If you are seeing your heating bills creep up and are worried about your existing HVAC system, a consultant from Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning can carry out a comprehensive inspection of your system and propose solutions. We provide various flexible financing options and will guide you through the payment process for your new system.

Prevent unnecessary heating costs and reduce repairs by arranging a tune-up for your current system before problems crop up. Our maintenance packages ensure your system operates smoothly, eliminating stress and inconvenience. Regardless of your needs, we’re always just a phone call away.

About the Author

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Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.