The Everyday Home: Free things you can do to save on winter heating costs

Sonya McDaniel, Extension Educator, FCS/CED
OSU Extension Center

As overnight temperatures across the state begin to fall into the teens and twenties this weekend, we might see increases to our utilities bill next month! While keeping your home warm is a priority, so is keeping down the cost of your utility bill.

Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist, said there are free things homeowners and renters can do to help keep heating costs from going through the roof.

“Heating bills can really put a strain on your wallet during the winter months, so it’s important to take advantage of some cost-saving tips,” Peek said. “You should see a change in your heating bill after implementing these tips.”

The easiest thing that you can do is to turn the thermostat down when you go to work or leave the home for extended periods of time. You do not want to pay for heat that you are not home to enjoy. Also, turn down the heat a few degrees when you go to bed.

“When you return home, set the thermostat to the lowest, comfortable setting. For every degree you lower the thermostat, consumers can save about 3 percent on heating costs. Also, instead of turning up the heat if you get chilly, dress for the weather. Wear warm clothes, including a sweater and socks, around the house and add an extra blanket to your bed,” Peek said. “To help keep your heat set where it should be, make sure you lower it when you leave for work and raise it up a bit when you return home.”

Sunlight, even in the winter, is a way to add natural, free warmth to your home. Open your blinds and curtains to let the sun stream through the windows, particularly on south-facing walls. As the sun sets, close them to help keep trap that warmth inside.

Peek said make certain that heat is not escaping from your home.

“Be sure doors and windows are closed tight. Check to make sure your fireplace isn’t letting air enter and escape your home. Obviously, a roaring fire in the fireplace creates a space of warmth and comfort in your home, but it also can be a source of air leaks. When not in use, keep the damper closed to help prevent cold air from coming in and warm air from escaping,” she said. “If your fireplace has doors, keep them closed when there isn’t a fire burning. You should definitely see some extra money in your pocket throughout the winter season.”

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