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
27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free
27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

33 Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100
33 Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100

A little money goes a long way with these imaginative projects. You can do most of them yourself.

13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest
13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest

These Amazon products can help you finally catch 40 winks — or more.

15 Things You Should Always Buy at Yard Sales
15 Things You Should Always Buy at Yard Sales

You can save a ton of money — especially if you spot any of these items.

11 Signs That You Chose the Wrong Place to Retire
11 Signs That You Chose the Wrong Place to Retire

Health and happiness in retirement rely on some key factors.

View this page without ads

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

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

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

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

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.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar
9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar can save you a lot of money, but using it like this can cost you.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

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.

4 States Where Taxes on Social Security May Fall Soon
4 States Where Taxes on Social Security May Fall Soon

These states are considering reducing — or even eliminating — income taxes on Social Security benefits.

10 Things Successful Retirees Do Differently
10 Things Successful Retirees Do Differently

These habits and characteristics can help put you on the track to success.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50
7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50

As we age, our bodies wear down. Here is how to cut costs associated with some common ailments.

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.