by Lou Manfredini, Ace’s Home Expert

For a homeowner, it becomes essential to have control over various aspects of the household budget and this includes the energy costs. Controlling heating costs and knowing your electricity rates (click here to know more) is always a good way for homeowners to save a significant amount of money in the winter. Here are my top 10 tips to help you out:

  1. Have your heating system checked annually.A service technician could clean the unit, replace the filters in the humidifier, and inspect the unit for parts like the furnace that needs replacing or repair (click here for an example). The whole process should cost you from about $75 to $100. This helps prevent emergencies and keeps the equipment running at its most cost-efficient and optimum capacity.
  2. Install a programmable thermostat. Well-insulated homes can save up to 30 percent on heating costs with one. You can program these thermostats to coordinate with your schedule. Set it to lower temperatures when at work or while sleeping and to bring the house up to comfortable temperatures when you wake up, or arrive home. Keep your adjustments within about 8 degrees. Any more and it will take more energy to bring your home up to temperature. Look for helpful features like an easy-to-read display, 7 day programming cycles, furnace filter reminders or even wireless controls.
  3. Be smart about setting the temperature. Homeowners can save up to 3 percent on energy bills simply by turning down the thermostat just one degree. You won’t even notice the change in temperature, but your heating bill will.
  4. Add weather stripping around windows and doors. Door thresholds, window caulking and plastic window film can really help. In a drafty home, you could save up to 20 percent with an investment of as little as $25. Use caulk or spray foam around non-moving spaces in your home. Weather-stripping is best for areas that move or open – like doors and windows. You might also want to look at various types of Listed Buildings (and if your building falls under the category) before making any changes to it.
  5. Install ceiling fans. Running the fans slowly and in reverse will keep warm air circulating throughout the house, thereby reducing running time for the furnace. Ceiling fans add a nice decorative touch as well.
  6. Check furniture arrangement. Are you blocking vents and radiators with a sofa, shelving, rug or draperies? If so, you’re restricting the airflow in your home, resulting in higher output from your furnace or boiler. Rearrange the furniture and install a hood over your vent cover to direct warm air out into the room. Although, another reason why you could be blocking air from coming into your home could be dirt and blockage in the vents. If that is the case, you can hire services from companies similar to Texan Cleaners (visit their website) in your area who can clean your air vents for you.
  7. Install a tankless water heater. I always remind people that this amazing technology has been around for decades, yet U.S. homeowners have been slow to adopt it. These days, units are less expensive, and by creating hot water on demand as opposed to continuously heating stored water, homeowners can save hundreds of dollars over time.
  8. Install thermo-pane windows in your home. A typical single pane window has an R-value of 1. These multi-pane windows can have R-values of as high as 9.1. The higher the R-value, the more resistant the glass is to losing heat. If you can’t afford all new windows, replace them one at a time and, use window film kits on your older windows. They can increase the R-value by 90 percent over a single pane window.
  9. Properly insulate your ceilings and attic. Heat rises, and if there isn’t enough insulation in the space above, your money literally is going out the roof. Most ceilings and attic spaces should have at least an R-30 rating, although some areas of the country recommend an R-40-50 rating.
  10. Let the sun be your guide. It’s free energy! During the day, open up drapes and blinds and let the sun heat your home. At night, draw the curtains to keep the heat inside.

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