When the weather outside is frightful, a spike in your heating costs can be just as scary. Large heating bills can negatively affect your monthly budget, and it is even worse when your usage fluctuates.
Regardless of whether your home is heated by natural gas, electric, or radiant systems, cold temperatures and energy price volatility can hurt you financially. However, try some of these ways to lower your heating bills:
Play by the average
Once you have lived in your home for at least a year, you can start to appreciate the differences in usage each season. You can then calculate your average usage per month, and use this value for budgeting. Save any surplus to account for colder months when your expenses tend to be higher.
Budget billing is similar to playing by the average, except that most of the figures are calculated by the business and not by you. Many utility companies provide a budget billing option as a way to help clients handle fluctuations. While every utility has its own specific approach, in general they will average the cost of a year’s worth of use and charge you that amount each month. Keep in mind that at the end of the year, you will still need to pay any amounts owing if you used more energy than the average amount. If you have not budgeted for extra usage or price fluctuations, this extra payment can be hard on your finances. If you use less than the average, some companies may refund the excess, but others may not. Make sure you read your contract to understand the details of your agreement.
Have your furnace inspected
Furnace efficiency can be a factor, particularly for furnaces that are 15-years-old or more. If you want to save on heating bills, consider having a heating professional inspect your furnace and ventilation system annually to ensure your systems is operating at its optimal level.
Reduce your usage
Although some aspects that affect your heating bills may be beyond your control, there are ways you can reduce your usage, and therefore the amount you spend. A few simple yet effective ways include:
- Decrease the temperature on your thermostat by a degree when someone is in the house, and by two or more degrees at night or when people will be away for several hours. A programmable thermostat can make it easier for this to happen. Wear a cozy sweater and slippers if you need a little extra warmth.
- Know the peak periods when energy costs are at their highest and reduce your usage during during those times.
- Ensure your house is sealed from drafts by replacing old or worn weather stripping around doors and windows.
- Turn off appliances and lights when you are not using them.
- Embrace the sun! Open up the curtains on bright days so that you can enjoy some natural heat and lighting.
Everyone who lives in a colder climate will experience fluctuating energy costs. However, with some basic planning and a little thought, you can take control of your heating bills no matter the temperature.