Ah, fall. It’s the season of resplendent foliage, harvest moons … and steadily climbing heating bills.
Obvious solutions like installing high-efficiency windows and buying a new furnace and water heater are major undertakings — and cost major money. But if you’ve got a free Saturday afternoon and don’t mind a little elbow grease and a trip to the hardware store, these simple steps can help reduce the $2,200 a year the average household spends on energy bills.
Get an energy audit
Knowing how and where your home leaks heat and wastes energy is the first step towards fixing it. Do it yourself or bring in a pro (some utilities offer this service for free).
Clean your furnace
Dirt in your furnace can make it work much less efficiently. Take some time this fall to clean or replace your furnace’s filter, and check it once a month during heating season. Having a professional out for a full furnace cleaning (or doing it yourself if you’re handy) can cut heating costs by up to 5 percent.
Install dimmer switches
Controlling the level of light in a room can be useful for dinner parties or kids’ bedtime. But dimmer switches also lets you control precisely how much electricity you’re using, eliminating waste. Dimmers may also extend the life of a light bulb by minimizing the mild shock to the bulb’s filaments that comes with flipping on a light switch.
Replacing a light switch with a dimmer isn’t complicated. If you plan to use CFL bulbs, remember to get special ones designed for use with dimmers.
Install an indoor clothesline
It’s easy to line-dry in the warmer months. Bring that major energy savings indoors by finding a spot in your house for a clothesline. Folding racks can accommodate clothing, but a line stretched high across an out-of-the-way room (like a basement) is great for sheets and towels. Look for a retractable line that’s easy to conceal when not in use.
Install a programmable thermostat
Program your heat according to your family’s schedule and save up to $180 a year without sacrificing comfort. Replacing an existing thermostat is a relatively simple electrical job.
Get storm windows
When buying new windows isn’t an option for older homes, installing storm windows is a cheaper way to reduce wintertime heat loss.
Rearrange the furniture
If your couch sits beneath a large window, you’re probably going to be shivering on it all winter. Place your furniture so couches, armchairs and other frequented spots back up to interior walls. It’s a small step that can help you avoid turning up the thermostat.