The 5 Best Tips for a Cheaper Winter

Photo (cc) by uberculture

The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder – many states are seeing their first freeze of the season. Is it time to turn up the heat?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, over half of the average power bill is from heating: 18 percent is for heating water, and 45 percent goes to keeping the whole home warm. Finding ways to preserve that heat can mean significant savings for the upcoming season.

Fortunately, most of the tricks to do it aren’t hard or expensive. In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson talks to a nervous but nice guy from Home Depot about getting the biggest bang for your buck in winter energy savings. Check it out, and then read on for details.

As Stacy said, you can do some of this stuff this weekend and it will probably pay for itself before winter’s out. Here are the best bang-for-your-buck projects to get started on…

  1. Seal leaks. Getting rid of that chilly draft will feel good and save money. EnergyStar.gov figures you can save 10 percent of your annual energy bill with proper sealing and insulation (up next). Caulk is a cheap fix, and there are several easy ways to identify leaks. There’s the one Stacy mentioned: Use a candle and watch for the flicker. Another is to grab a flashlight and a helping hand tonight. Light will shine through from the other side of cracks leaking air. You can also test doors and windows with a simple sheet of paper – shut them over the paper and try to pull it free. If it comes out without tearing, you’ve got a leak. Check high and low: attics, basements, foundations, windows, doors, and anywhere different building materials meet or where pipes enter and exit.
  2. Add more insulation. As you heard in the video, this process can run $500 for an average-sized home. But it only takes a few hours, and will save year-round. Adding insulation to walls can be tricky and expensive, but the attic is usually easy to get to and makes a big difference. EnergyStar.gov suggests how you can tell whether you need to add insulation at a glance: If the insulation isn’t level with or above the floor beams, get more. For step-by-step instructions and safety info, check out this insulation guide from the Department of Energy.
  3. Air filters. The cheapest fix on the list is not the least important – air filters should be changed at least every three months. A dirty air filter is wasting energy by blocking air flow. It can also lead to costly repairs for your furnace, so don’t overlook this simple $3 job.
  4. Programmable thermostat. Being able to schedule temperature adjustments for when you’re asleep or out of the house is an easy way to save money. EnergySavers.gov says you can save 10 to 15 percent on your annual heating and cooling costs by turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours. (The savings are greater in milder climates.) They also debunk an old myth: “A common misconception associated with thermostats is that a furnace works harder than normal to warm the space back to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, resulting in little or no savings.” It doesn’t work that way, so don’t be afraid to turn it down. And putting on an extra layer of clothes will save more money than turning it back up.
  5. Water heater. A jacket to insulate your water heater can cost $25, but cuts water heating costs up to 9 percent. As the video mentioned, it only takes half an hour: Here are instructions. EnergySavers.gov also suggests setting the temperature to 120 degrees, noting that each 10-degree drop is worth 3 to 5 percent of energy costs.

Some of the bigger energy-saving investments may be worth your while too. As we mentioned in 4 Reasons to Start Thinking Taxes Now, 10 percent of qualifying expenses (up to $500) purchased this year can be claimed as a tax credit. Also check out 13 Cool Tips for Lower Energy Bills.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Times You’re Right to Be a Cheapskate
10 Times You’re Right to Be a Cheapskate

Clever shoppers can save money without sacrificing quality. Here is how to do it.

8 Key Steps to Planning for Retirement as a Couple
8 Key Steps to Planning for Retirement as a Couple

Ready for retirement? Not so fast. You might be surprised at some of the issues that come up for couples when they plan.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

8 Things I Always Buy at Costco
8 Things I Always Buy at Costco

From bacon to birthday cakes, here are my favorite deals at the popular warehouse store.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car
9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car

Thinking of leaving these possessions in a car? Prepare for unexpected consequences.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020
20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020

These practical products made everyday life a little easier last year — and will do so in the new year, too.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.