Top Six Hidden Heating Costs

Home-Heating-CostsThey say that time is money; but if you live in a state where winters are cold (like New Jersey), you know that heat is money. It’s expensive to keep that furnace running all the time, and the monthly bill can be a shocker.

What’s worse is knowing that your heating bill could have been lower if you had been aware of the hidden causes of lost heat. Do any of the items listed below apply to you? If so, you might be able to save cash from going out the window.

1. Fireplaces
Nobody can deny the unique comforts of a wood fireplace in winter; but they’re not actually that great in terms of heating efficiency. Because the smoke and ash have to be eliminated through the chimney, much of the heat is lost too.

To minimize heat loss, check your damper regularly to make sure it’s clean and functional. Another thing you can do is install a reflective surface on the back wall of the fireplace. This brings more heat forward into your home. Steel is a popular material for this. It may also be possible to use aluminum foil if the fireplace is big enough. Consulting an HVAC specialist is a good bet.

2. Electrical Outlets
The average house has three electrical outlets in every room. When these are loose and drafty, a substantial amount of heat is lost over time. Fortunately, there’s a very cheap and easy solution. Special insulating pads can be purchased for a few dollars at any hardware store, and installation takes only a few minutes with a standard screwdriver set. This stops heat from traveling out through your outlets.
3. Doors
Obviously you want to seal your exterior doors well to prevent heat from escaping directly. But in terms of staying warm and comfortable, it also helps to prevent interior drafts by sealing the bottoms of doors between rooms. Special insulation is available specifically for the bottoms of doors, but many people report success using ordinary insulation for pipes, which they cut and fit to the bottom of the door. It may not be the most glamorous solution in the world, but it can increase your heating efficiency.
4. Windows
A zero tolerance approach to poorly sealed windows is a must for anyone hoping to retain more heat in the winter. Some people go so far as to cover their windows in bubble wrap. Your view will definitely be obscured, but if you’ve decided to pull out all the stops your quest for lower energy bills, you might want to consider it.
5. Thermostats
Poor thermostat management is one of the main causes of lost heat and higher costs. Avoid letting your house get too cold at night when you’re under the covers—it will take more energy to heat it up in the morning, and your gains will be lost. A programmable or smart thermostat will allow you to manage your heat with greater accuracy, allowing for slight decreases (around three degrees is a good number) when you’re not around.
6. Poorly-maintained HVAC systems
Have you had your furnace, ducts and vents checked lately? Scheduled maintenance from an HVAC professional is a small price to pay for greater efficiency throughout the winter. You’ll also prevent future problems and costly repairs by staying ahead of the maintenance curve.

Eliminate Those Hidden Costs!

Using less energy to heat your home during the winter months is good for you and good for the environment. By understanding and avoiding the common pitfalls that result in lost heat, you’ll have all the comfort you need and a slimmer energy bill. Who knows—you might even save enough cash for a trip somewhere warm…Thanks for reading, and please comment!