Lower your natural gas bill before winter strikes and save money!

A lower Natural Gas Bill?!

Do you find that heating your home in the winter is giving you a headache with absurdly high bills? Most people don’t want to spend their hard earned money on heating and cooling. I know I don’t. I’d rather go shopping or out to eat with that money! There are simple things you can do right now to lower your natural gas bill. Some you may already be doing, but why not do them all?

Program or replace your thermostat, stat!

If your thermostat is old, or not programmed correctly you could be losing lots of dollars each month without even realizing it. Buy a thermostat that can easily be programmed for different settings throughout the day, they are easy to install and typically run from $20-$100. Usually if you lower the setting during sleeping hours, you won’t even notice a change, except in your monthly bill! A tolerable setting is 63-68 Fahrenheit in the winter months. For every degree you turn down, you’ll save about 3%.

Around the house!

You and your family shouldn't be prancing around the house in shorts and tank tops in the winter months. Put on a sweatshirt, or layer your cloths. If you’re relaxing on the sofa, use a blanket, housecoat or comfy throw to stay snugly. Doing this may even allow you to set that thermostat as low as 60 degrees, which means bigger savings! If you’re feet are cold, wear some fabulous slippers or thick comfy socks! When you turn down the heat at night, use an electric heated blanket to keep you warm, not heat the entire house.

Close vents and doors to rooms you do not need to heat, and for vents that are open, make sure they are not cluttered or blocked to keep air circulating as evenly as possible. Using vent guards to direct the air can also help. Foam padding can also be installed in electrical outlets that are on outside walls of your home.

Maintenance and self checks...

Have your furnace serviced once a year, and replace the furnace filter every 1-3 months. Doing so will allow it to operate at maximum efficiency. For the most part filters are inexpensive, and can be bought in multiple packs at a home improvement store, like Lowe's or Home Depot. Buy a few packs so you always have some on hand. Most furnaces when well maintained will easily last 50+ years.

If you hear your furnace clicking on every 10 minutes or so, it's most likely that there is nothing wrong with your furnace, it’s more likely you have poor insulation or air leaking out of the house, your heat is escaping! On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick or candle to the most common drafty areas: chimney flashing, recessed lighting, sill plates, window and door frames, all ducts and flues and electrical outlets, doing this will help you spot leaks and seal them up properly.

1. Check windows and entry doors for drafts, weather-strip as needed, replace drafty windows if you can afford to.

2. Use door “sweeps” to retain heat

3. Use foam outlet covers in electrical outlets on all outside walls. These can be purchased at most retailers, or home improvement stores

4. Wrap water supply line pipes in pipe insulation

5. Use HVAC tape to seal up any leaking vents or ductwork

6. Check your attic insulation; attics are responsible for up to 35% heating and cooling loss. There are a lot of DIY insulation options these days. You can roll it out yourself, blow it in, or have a professional install it. Check out this link for more information; http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_insulation_table

7. One way to test for insulation in the walls of older homes is to remove an electrical outlet cover (turn off the power to the outlet) and then stick a long object in and around the electrical box, if you have any insulation, you should feel some resistance when doing this. If you don’t, you may want to look into insulating the walls.

8. If you have a gas water heater, turn down the setting as low as you can tolerate. Wash cloths in cold water, you really don’t need hot unless you’re doing whites. Wear cloths and pants more than once before washing. Also shower with your spouse or partner, not only does it save water and prevent that water tank from having to reheat so much it’s a lot of fun! Have children shower 3 times a week, if they are not going thru puberty, they don’t need to shower every day.

9. Buy a wrap for your water tank and insulate it. Or take an old blanket and duct tape it around the water heater.

10. Use a low flow shower head, saves that heated water

11. Keep the fireplace damper closed

12. Use curtains or insulated window coverings to help keep heat inside!

13. If you replace appliances or have to replace your furnace, buy energy star rated units.

14. Take advantage of tax credits for energy related issues when filing your taxes

15. If you’ve done all these suggestions and still need help paying the heating bill, some agencies and governments offer help. For example, discounts for low-income seniors and low-income disabled people and a tax rebate for all low-income customers who meet certain eligibility requirements may be available. Contact your local utility or local Community Action Agency. National assistance for low-income families who want to make energy-saving home improvements is also available at the Department of Energy Web site

It’s all worth the effort

Make your home as energy efficient as possible. Even following a few of these suggestions can decrease your Natural Gas bill in a noticeable way. Making a personal effort to be more conscious of your energy consumption also gives Mother Nature a nice needed break.

© 2013 Rebecca

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