It’s not only the price of heating oil that has shot through the stratosphere this fall. Homes that heat with electricity are at risk because many utilities run on natural gas, and the price of it has gone up, too.
Adjust the ThermostatYou really should keep the thermostat at 68 F during the day and 60 F at night. Does it feel too cold? Wear extra sweaters, and don’t forget to regulate the humidity. Keeping the relative humidity between 30 percent and 50 percent can make 68 F feel more like 74 F. You can get a humidifier or keep a pan of water simmering on the stove.
Install WeatherstrippingWeatherstripping is very inexpensive and available at any home improvement center. It is self-adhesive, so it sticks to just about anything. Use it on drafty doors and windows and any place where a crack allows warm air to escape. Weatherstripping does not last indefinitely and should be replaced every year or two. If you are diligent in making sure every possible opening is weather-stripped, you can expect to recoup 15 percent of your heating bill.
Plug the LeaksAll kinds of places cannot be weather-stripped and require caulking instead. If you can visualize money rather than warm air leaking out of all those crevices and open places, you might be more motivated to plug them up.
Water HeaterIf you don’t already have one, spend $20 and get an insulation blanket for your electric water heater. You will save twice that amount each year in lower heating costs. That’s how much heat escapes from an unwrapped heater.
InsulateIf one heater blanket on your water heater can make that kind of a difference, imagine if you put a blanket on your whole house! That’s just about what insulation is. Even if your home is insulated, get an inspection to determine if it is adequate. If the house was built before 1980 and not upgraded since, you can be sure you do not have enough insulation.
Accept HelpIf you fear higher heating costs will cause you undue hardship, there may be help. Call your utility company and inquire about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This is a federally funded block grant program that helps ease the energy cost burden of low-income individuals. Federal requirements are minimal and leave most important decisions to local jurisdictions.
Go to EverydayCheapskate.com/energy, where you will find a link for calculating energy use in residential buildings. The “DIY Home Energy Assessments” can help you manage your energy costs. Key in your zip code and answer a quiz to get a customized energy audit of your home, instant energy use estimates, and a road map to future savings.