Tips To Keep Your Winter Heating Costs Down

The most recent Department of Energy statistics show that the average American household’s annual utility costs are around $2,000. The average home’s heating costs come to about $900 of that. You, therefore, want to prevent the warm air you pay for from escaping through drafty windows, doors that don’t fit their frames properly, and poorly insulated basements and attics. You can have a better idea of your home through a certified home inspection in Spotsylvania, VA, and therefore determine what areas you should work the most to save on your heating costs. Furthermore, we have highlighted some tips that can help you keep your winter heating costs down.

Decide Whether to Have an Energy Audit

An experienced energy assessor can examine your home’s energy efficiency to look for problems like inadequate insulation or a heating system that you should replace—and help create a strategy to increase efficiency and reduce energy costs. According to the DOE, this can cost between $210 and $670 but could help you find ways to cut your monthly energy costs by up to 30%. In 20 states, consumers are connected with recognized home performance contractors for assessments through the Home Performance with Energy Star program, a joint effort of the DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency. Hence, you can decide on getting this examination and consider long-lasting savings in heating costs.

Sleuth Out Leaky Doors, Windows, and More

Hold a lit incense stick in front of windows and doors to detect air leaks. Horizontal smoke suggests that the closures are not airtight. Alternatively, you might dampen the back of your hand and run it around the door frames to feel for any chilly air coming in from the outside. A portable thermal leak detector is another option; it costs approximately $26. The same methods will disclose electrical outlets, attic hatches, ceiling fixtures, and air leaks close to sinks and toilets.

In the winter, windows that don’t fit properly might let frigid air in. Consider low-emissivity storm windows, which are coated to help keep the heat outside in warmer climates and the warmth inside in colder climates, if the caulking and other solutions cannot stop air leaks.

Seal Those Leaks the Right Way

Start by caulking or installing weather stripping to window and door frames in need. (Components that move, like operable windows, should be weather-stripped; non-moving components, such as non-opening windows, should be caulked.) Consider covering the inside of windows and patio doors with a temporary transparent plastic window film. (At home centers, you can find kits for under $30 that include enough film and tape to cover five windows.) Once you’ve located leaky areas, seal them off.

Foam gaskets should be placed behind outlets and switch plates on exterior-facing walls to prevent frigid air from escaping. You can buy a draft-stopper “snake,” cover the area with a towel folded up, or install a screw-on, stick-on, or slip-on door sweep to stop cold air from seeping in at the bottom of doors. The price for foam gaskets ranges from $5 to $32 each at hardware stores and home centers.

Schedule a Checkup

It would be best if you carried out a certified home inspection in Virginia to know about the defects other than the windows and doors. Your heating system likely needs servicing, and a thorough home inspection can reveal this. If so, you may move forward with professional servicing of your heating system that can typically cost between $150 to $500 depending on the entire ventilating, heating, and air conditioning system. Furthermore, this servicing will include everything from checking for safety issues such as carbon monoxide leaks to replacing dirty filters.

You might save money by using a heating system that operates efficiently. For instance, according to the DOE, a heat pump that is properly maintained can use up to 25% less fuel than one that is not.

Address Attic Issues

Since warm air tends to rise in the winter due to a phenomenon known as the stack effect, the top level of your home can be a notorious source of heat loss. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that warm air from living spaces doesn’t leak into the attic. It’s a good idea to examine the insulation in the attic and look for window drafts and other air leaks.

Depending on what you already have, the climate where you live, and the type of insulating product you select, you may determine the ideal level of insulation. Look in your attic for a quick assessment. According to the Energy Star program, you probably need to add more insulation if it appears uneven or if it is below or just at the level of the floor joists. Because working with attics and insulation materials can be difficult, it’s frequently better to contact a qualified insulation contractor.

Seek Out Savings, Rebates, and Tax Breaks

Despite the rising energy cost, there are more and more ways to pay for it. Notably, depending on your salary, the recently adopted Inflation Reduction Act may entitle you to tax credits ranging from $4,000 to $8,000 for reducing your energy consumption. For instance, from January 2023 through December 2032, you might be eligible to receive $1,200 each year for insulation. You might receive a credit of up to $2,000 for an electric heat pump, and installing a solar energy system can earn you a tax credit of up to 30% of qualifying costs. Additionally, funding is available for improvements to everything from heating systems and water heaters to doors, windows, and insulation.

Furthermore, your utility provider might offer price locks and level billing, which averages your spending over a year (which holds costs at a set rate all year). However, you should know that certain utilities charge more for peak electricity usage. Ask your utility company to find out when you can use appliances most effectively.

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