With the high cost of heating oil, many are wondering how they'll keep warm this winter. Don't worry about rushing out and looking into high priced preventive maintenance software or anything of that nature just yet though. A few simple steps can go a long way in keeping the temperature up and the bills down.
One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to save on your heating bill this winter is to block out drafts! Take a trip to Wal-Mart or any discount store and buy some of these inexpensive items:
Clear Tape: Have any doors you're not going to be using this winter? Seal around the edges of them. It stops drafts and, since the tape is clear, it's hardly even noticeable.
Foam Insulation (Great Stuff): In the basement, go around the outside walls and inspect where the house sits on the foundation. Often times there will be spaces where drafts can enter. Squirt in some insulation to make an air-tight seal.Window Covering Kits: These are great for old leaky windows. It covers the entire window in plastic. Shrink to fit with a hair dryer.
Outlet insulation kits: Electric outlets and switches located on the outside wall of a building will frequently leak cold air. These pre-formed insulation kits go behind the faceplate and keep out cold drafts. They're cheap and easy to install!
Close off unused rooms. This works especially well on the upper floors of buildings. If there’s a room you infrequently use, just close the door and you've greatly decreased the amount of space you have to heat!
Close blinds and curtains during the night to prevent heat loss. Be sure and open them up during the day to get the benefit of solar heating.
Make sure your heat outlets (registers) are working at top efficiency. This usually involves two things. First, make sure they are clean. In the course of a year dust and dirt can accumulate on the exchanger fins reducing the amount of heat that gets put into the room. Simply take off the housings and go over them with a vacuum. Likewise, make sure there is nothing in front of them like furniture, etc.
Give your furnace a tune up. Have a licensed tech give your heating system a once over, changing filters, nozzles, etc. A little service fee up front can save many gallons of pricey fuel over the winter.
Buy a programmable thermostat. The importance of turning the temperature down even a few degrees cannot be overstated when it comes to saving money. We're all human and often don't remember to do it. With a programmable thermostat you won't have to.
Climb into a Toasty-Warm bed: Why heat up the entire room to take the chill off your bed? Invest in an electric blanket. It will heat the bed up much faster than turning up the heat and save you money at the same time.
Invest in a space heater. If you spend a majority of your time in one room of the house, a space heater may be for you. With a central heating system you will usually need to heat several rooms (or the whole house) just to warm up the one room you're in. A space heater will keep one room toasty warm, allowing you to turn down your furnace. One increasingly popular choice is a pellet stove, a special type of wood stove the burns pelletized fuel (wood, corn, etc). Whichever space heater you choose, make sure it is safely installed to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Reduce Expenses in other areas. If you've gotten every last drop of efficiency out of your heating system you can start working on other areas of your home to save money and put the extra dollars toward your heating bill.
Lighting: Perhaps one of the quickest and easiest ways is to replace frequently used incandescent lights with highly-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFLs). The bulbs use a fraction of the electricity and last many times longer than regular light bulbs. They are a bit pricey up front, but more than pay for themselves over their life.