Entries in Home Heating (2)


Three Ways to Save Money on Home Heating Bills

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Last winter was the mildest on record for the United States, but temperatures this winter are expected to be close to normal — that is, about 20 to 27 percent colder than last year east of the Rockies, and about one percent colder in the West, where 2011 temperatures were more typical.

So bundle up, and be ready for higher home heating bills. According to the annual Winter Fuels Outlook from the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, heating bills will rise 20 percent for heating oil customers, 15 percent for natural gas customers, 13 percent for propane customers and 5 percent for electricity customers. Heating oil customers are expected to pay an average of $3.80 per gallon, the highest price on record. That will mean record heating bills, at an average of $2,494 per customer for the season. That’s nearly $200 more than the previous high, set in the winter of 2010-2011.

So what’s the best way to save money on your heating bills this winter? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star program:

1. Use a set-back thermostat that can be programmed according to the home’s occupancy levels. Properly set to reduce the heat when nobody’s home, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 in annual energy costs.

2. Seal air leaks in the home and add insulation. You can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs — or up to 10 percent on your total annual energy bill — by sealing air leaks and insulating your home. “A typical household spends approximately $1,000 a year on heating and cooling, so proper sealing and insulation can save homeowners as much as $200 per year,” said Chandler von Schrader, Residential Program Manager at Energy Star.  "Sealing air leaks stops drafts, and adding insulation blocks heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.”

3. Get a home energy audit. The cost of a home energy audit depends on the type of audit — from “clipboard audits,” which are quick but less thorough, to more fully comprehensive audits with diagnostic tools (blower door, infrared scanning and screening of the heating/cooling and distribution system). Clipboard audits take about an hour and often cost less than $100, or are even free in some cases. “Comprehensive audits can cost up to $500 or more, can take many hours to complete, but they produce a detailed report on making whole-house comfort and efficiency improvements,” von Schrader said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How to Cut Home Heating Costs This Winter

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Winter’s here. Snowstorms are hitting the Great Lakes, and temperatures are dropping further south. It’s time to make sure you’re not wasting energy -- and wasting money -- on home heating costs. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average U.S. family spends over $2,000 a year on home energy, with nearly half of that going to heat and cool the home.

To save money, the EPA recommends taking the following five steps:

1. Make sure your home heating system is operating at maximum efficiency. Are its filters clean? Are any ducts leaking? Especially if your system is more than 10 years old, you should have it checked by a licensed contractor to make sure it’s working properly. After that, check your filters once a month and replace them when dirty. Change them at least every three months.

2. Get a programmable thermostat that can automatically lower temperatures when you’re asleep or away from home. By taking just this one step, you can save up to $180 a year.

3. To avoid losing heat, seal all leaks with caulk, spray-on foam or weather stripping. To retain heat, add insulation. This EPA chart will tell you how much insulation your house needs by region.

4. Use the EPA website’s Home Energy Advisor to see how your home’s efficiency compares with others in your area. The Advisor can offer further suggestions on what steps to take to boost your home’s efficiency.

5. Make sure all the appliances and home-improvement products that you buy are energy-efficient. Look for ones that display the EPA’s Energy Star symbol. The EPA has qualified more than 60 types of products, ranging from heating and cooling equipment to light bulbs.

For more information on cutting energy costs this winter, click here.

For ways to save energy year-round, click here.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio