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It’s that time of year again in Chicago! We’ve already had a more winter-like Autumn with a couple of days where it got down below 30 degrees at night.
This time of year, many places in the U.S. are starting to get pretty cold, which means almost everyone is trying to figure out ways to save money on their heating bill. Even places like Florida, Texas and other more southern states can get pretty cold once the winter months hit.
Something that has always fascinated me was the difference in how people from the northern parts of the U.S. view certain temperatures as warmer than people in the southern U.S., even if it’s the same temperature.
For example, I’m a big fan of Disney World. I like to go sometime between November and February so it isn’t so hot. In January, Orlando can get decently cold for Florida. U.S. Climate Data reports that the average low temperature in Orlando for January is right around 50 degrees.
Being from Chicago, it’s always fun and interesting to see native Floridians bundled up in winter jackets while I’m in shorts and a hoodie in 50-degree weather. 🙂
The point is, everyone will be cold at some point, and there are plenty of ways to save money on your heating bill. Here are nine of them.
1. Buy Flannel Sheets
Say goodbye to that first 10 seconds of freezing when climbing into bed. Seriously, if you haven’t tried flannel sheets you are missing out!
With flannel sheets, as soon as you get in bed you are greeted with a coziness like no other.
To give you an idea of how amazing they are, my two daughters used to climb into bed with my wife and I every night from being cold in their room. We recently bought them flannel sheets and they stay in their own beds!!
Sorry about the exclamation points. I’m a little excited about that.
Flannel sheets like these from Amazon are a great purchase and will help you feel warmer without having to raise your thermostat. They may even allow you to keep your thermostat lower than you normally do.
2. Switch Your Ceiling Fan Rotation
Ceiling fans are a great thing to have in the summer months. But you can also use them to your advantage to save some money on your heating bill.
Hot air rises, so we need something to distribute that hot air above your head to the rest of the room. Enter the ceiling fan.
There is a switch on every ceiling fan that will change the direction the fan blades rotate.
In order to circulate the hot air stuck at ceiling level to the rest of the room, you’ll want to make sure that your fan blades are spinning in a clockwise motion as you’re looking up at them.
Keep it on the lowest speed. This pushes the warmer air down the walls of the room making the entire room warmer.
Heat that is more evenly distributed will help you to save money on your heating bill.
3. Seal Your Windows with a Window Insulation Kit
Unless your windows in your home or apartment have been recently replaced, there is a good chance you are getting some sort of draft letting all of that outside cold air in. Instead of freezing while watching your heating bill rise, why not install some window insulation?
Insulation kits like these essentially put a plastic barrier between your home and the winter elements.
Like a Ziplock bag uses plastic to keep your food fresh as a daisy, these insulation kits will make sure all of the heat you’re paying good money to generate will actually stay in your home.
I started doing this a couple of years ago in our home and we noticed an immediate difference in temperature and a long-term difference in our heating bill. Give it a go!
This is something I have to remind myself to do. I am the type of person that will bundle up for leaving the house, but if I’m lounging I’ll be in shorts and a t-shirt—freezing my butt off!
If you want to stay warm in the winter without having to turn your heat up, try getting a little cozier at home. Wear pajama pants (flannel or otherwise) and socks around the house. If your top half gets cold, put on a hoodie instead of raising the thermostat.
In my home, our living room can get kind of cold regardless because we have a wall without windows that gets cold where our couch is. We always keep a warm blanket handy to snuggle up with when it gets a little too chilly.
This can be a great alternate for bundling up at home if you’re uncomfortable in pants and a hoodie.
5. Lower Your Thermostat by Two Degrees
This is a neat trick I learned a couple of years ago that can have a significant effect on your heating bill. Try lowering your thermostat by two degrees.
I can guarantee you won’t notice the difference. You may even be able to lower it a little more if you’re bundling up or using blankets at home.
A couple of winters ago, we use to keep our thermostat at 72 or 73 degrees while we were home. Now it’s on 70 or 71 most of the time. Still feels the same and I’m not paying to keep our house at a higher temp.
A word of caution on this one though. This may not work if you have younger kids. Toddlers tend to notice the difference in temperature a little more because their bodies are so small.
The risk is having a child climb in bed with you in the middle of the night waking you up with their cold feet!
6. Replace Your Thermostat with a Programmable One
There are some fantastic smart thermostats on the market now. Some of the best that I’ve seen are:
- Nest (purchase here) – Nest thermostats can learn when the house is likely to be occupied to give you heat only when you need it. It is also Amazon Alexa enabled so you can use Alexa to control the thermostat.
- Ecobee4 (purchase here) – Another great choice is the Ecobee4. It is similar in function to the Nest but also includes a speaker and microphone with Alexa voice service built in so you can talk directly to it! It also has a room sensor to help manage the hot and cold spots in the room.
- Sensi Smart Thermostat (purchase here) – This one is similar in function to the above two but comes at a little bit cheaper of a price point.
Alternately, another great option is a standard programmable thermostat such as the Honeywell RTH6450D1009 (purchase here). Lacking the “smart” aspects of Smart Thermostats, these types of programmable thermostats are quite a bit cheaper than their smart counterparts.
They still have the same functionality of being able to program the heat to come on at certain times of the day (like when you’re home) and off for other times of the day.
7. Check or Tune Up Your Heating System
If your heating system is a little older, it may not be working as well as it used to. It may be time for a little tune-up!
If you have a furnace, the first thing to check is your filter. A dirty filter can cause clogged vents and can affect the circulation of your heating system. You can buy one like this. Just make sure you grab the right size or else it won’t fit.
Replacing your filter will have the added benefit of cutting down on dust and other allergens circulating through your home.
A couple of other things you can do are:
- Get your furnace professionally tuned up – Call your gas company to see if they offer this service. There may also be a subscription service where your gas company will come out every month or two to check on your system. This is usually pretty cheap.
- Get your ducts cleaned – A company like Four Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning can come out and remove all of the dust, carpet fibers, food, toys (thank you children), bugs and anything else that is clogging up your vents and keeping them from doing what they are supposed to do. This helps your bill in the summer too.
- Call a local place – Places like Home Depot can also come and tune up your furnace. Home Depot was advertising for a $39 tune-up in my town. Your mileage may vary but it’s worth checking out.
Keeping your heating system running in tip-top shape will help to keep your house warmer for cheaper.
So there is this really powerful and FREE heating option sometimes in the winter called the Sun. I’m betting most of us don’t use it to our advantage.
During sunny days in the winter, open up all of your blinds that face the direction of the sun. Bring in all of that free warmth into your home and keep your thermostat set a little lower to make sure your heat doesn’t turn on with all of the sun.
Alternately, at night when it gets cooler, close up all of your blinds and curtains to help block the cool air from getting into your home.
9. Close Off Rooms You Don’t Use
One of the biggest wastes of energy is heating rooms you never use in your home. If you have an extra bedroom or front room you hardly use, start off by closing the vents in those rooms.
For bedrooms, you can close the doors to make sure you aren’t heating the room indirectly through hallways or other rooms.
Next, use the trick for ceiling fans above and make sure all of the fans in the closed rooms are on low and spinning in a clockwise direction. With the fan on low, it’ll circulate the heat that rises to the ceiling back into the room so it’ll feel a little warmer, even with the room closed off.
The key is to not heat any of the rooms you don’t use regularly. Take a look at your home and see which rooms you can cut off for the winter.
Heating your home doesn’t have to be an expensive effort. With the right tricks like these, you’ll be comfortable all winter while not breaking the bank.
Which of these are you going to try?