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Have you turned your heat on yet? We live in Maine, and while in years past we would wait until November 1st to turn on the heat, this year the heat came on in early October. We have had a wonderfully warm November, so you may not be thinking about heating your home yet, but it is something I am constantly thinking about – especially how to save money on heating my home.
Several years back, when oil was over $4/gallon, I knew that we needed to make some changes in order to reduce how much we were spending on oil. Now that oil is less than half that, I am feeling a little more comfortable about relaxing on keeping the thermostat incredibly low, but I still want to be able to save as much money as I can during the *very* long heating season.
Here are my Top 6 Tips for Reducing your Heating Costs.
Keep your thermostat lower.
It seems like a no-brainer, if you turn your thermostat lower, you will pay less to heat your home. However, I think that most people forget about this step.
If you are out of the house all day, do you need to keep your heat on 70? Absolutely not. You can turn it down, and save some money. One thing that has helped us is to get a programmable thermostat. We have this one and it has served us really well. Not having to remember to turn the thermostat down when we know we are going to be out of the house is so helpful.
Turning the thermostat down isn’t just for when you are out of the house. If you turn your thermostat down a couple of degrees, and put on a sweater, you are going to save money.
The next tip is to use good curtains.
You can buy thermal lined curtains like these ones that are inexpensive, but give you a good amount of cold blocking power. I know that a lot of houses in New England are old, and that means that windows are sometimes old. Even if the windows are not old, like in my old house, there still seems to be cold air coming in. If you are able to shut the curtains, it will help keep some of the heat in your rooms better. If you have sun streaming through your windows during the day, keep those shades open in the winter and closed in the summer. Then close the shades when the sun passes over your house in the winter, or vice versa in the summer.
My next tip is to block off your rooms with doors or curtains.
This is something that we have been doing every year for a long time. It may sound strange to hang blankets to close off rooms in the winter, and it does look a little funny, but it definitely helps us keep our heating costs lower, and the rooms that we are in stay much warmer.
We live in an old New Englander home, and that means there are lots of rooms, and lots of doorways. By hanging some blankets or curtains up between some of the rooms, our downstairs stays warmer, and since that is where we are most of the time, that makes sense for us. Of course, it won’t work in every home. And obviously it changes the esthetic of the home to have blankets hanging in your doorways, but I’m not as concerned about that.
Use a space heater.
Space heaters have come a long way; they aren’t nearly as dangerous as they used to be. We have one similar to this one which we purchased several years ago, and it works really well. It isn’t like a typical space heater, but when the room itself is warm, it helps to keep the room warm. It doesn’t work as well if you start it in a cold room, it still works, but it doesn’t circulate the warm air as well as if the room is warm to begin with.
We run the heater in our downstairs, and it helps our thermostat to not constantly kick on. The combination of turning the thermostat down a couple degrees, hanging the curtains in the doorways and running the space heater keeps my family incredibly comfortable all day. Yes, the space heater adds cost to our electric bill, but it is not nearly as much as how much we pay for oil.
My last two tips Drink Tea and Bake.
These two are definitely more fun. I am a coffee drinker. I love coffee, but there is no way that I can drink coffee all day long – even though I might want to. It wouldn’t be healthy to drink that much caffeine, and decaf coffee just isn’t the same. Herbal tea, however, is something you can drink all day just fine.
Drinking hot tea warms me up. It warms up my hands, it warms my body, it is good for you. I think it is definitely a win-win. Winter sees me drinking a lot of tea. And it isn’t just me, my kids will drink it as well. Not as often, but when they see me drinking tea, they want to as well. It probably helps that I will put milk and honey in it for them.
Baking. It is a wonderful way to warm up your house! We do a lot of baking in the winter; bread, casseroles, cookies, anything that I can make in the oven, I try to during the winter. While what I am making is baking, the house warms up. And once the oven has been turned off, I leave the door of the oven open to let the residual heat come into the rest of the house. It is surprising how warm the house stays when I am baking! Plus, all those delicious treats, how can you go wrong?!
These are the main ways we keep our heating costs low in the winter. There are other ways to stay warm in a cooler house as well, sweaters, fingerless mitts, cowls, warm slippers or slippersocks. All of these are wonderful helps to stay warm in a cooler house.
What tips do you have to keep heating costs low? Do you see yourself turning up the thermostat a little more with oil prices lower?