It’s a fact that your Xcel energy bill, or those from other providers, can be among your highest home maintenance expenses. It just makes sense to want to lower it as much as possible, and that’s even more important as we approach the heating season. So, if you're worried about your heating bill this winter, here are some ways you can conserve energy and save cash for other things at the same time.
Check Your Furnace
Taking these steps to make sure your furnace is running at top efficiency is a good place to start.
- Change the filter. Both furnace and air conditioning efficiency are greatly reduced by low airflow, which can be caused by a dirty or clogged filter. The low cost of a new filter will quickly be recouped in fuel savings.
- Get a professional tune-up. Especially if it’s been more than two years since your last one, investing in a tune-up will not only ensure heating efficiency, but it will also check for safety issues. The best tune-up will include a combustion analysis, which determines how much of your heating is actually going into your home, as opposed to up the chimney.
Check Your Home
By far the biggest cause of heat loss in most homes is the infiltration of outside air, or air leaks. This loss occurs as a result of air both leaving and entering your home. This means through doors, windows, and ceilings (because warm air rises). These DIY projects will help keep heat in your home and save on energy costs.
- Inspect and add ceiling or attic insulation
- Be sure all windows and storms are securely closed for the season
- Add door and window seals where appropriate
- Keep door and window opening to a minimum
- Always close doors as you’re coming and going
All utility companies offer home inspections at very affordable rates. There are different levels of inspection, with the best and most expensive being an infrared scan of your home to pinpoint spots that are leaking air or places where the insulation is inadequate. Any level of inspection is well worth the cost. Locally, both Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy offer great programs.
Check Your Thermostat
Of course, one of the easiest ways to reduce your energy usage is by turning down the thermostat. That doesn’t mean you need to be shivering through the winter, but reducing your home’s heat even by one or two degrees can help. While some have argued that the energy used to bring the temperature back up offsets any savings, that has been shown not to be the case.
Check Your Water Heater
Often forgotten, an inefficient water heater can really gobble up the gas. Most heating companies can include a water heater inspection and tune-up along with the furnace. You can also reduce the water temperature setting for added savings.
Check Your Fireplace
Last, but not least, wood-burning fireplaces can drain heat from your home if not properly maintained. Natural drafting fireplaces, especially those that take air from the home for combustion (open hearth and non-sealed) can pull warm air from your home 24/7. Be sure to close the damper and seal the flue for best fuel savings.