I think most homeowners can agree - winter is officially here. As most of the northeast tries to dig itself out from under a blanket of the white stuff, everyone is asking whether if this inclement, frozen weather is an indication of how the entire season will play out.
Average annual heating costs expected to increase
With most heat sources expected to cost more this winter in comparison to past years, it's important to consider implementing new procedures and technologies in the home to reduce utility costs. According to MSN, how much a homeowner pays more for heat for winter 2013-2014 will depend heavily on what type of energy source is being used.
- Homeowners who heat with natural gas are expected to pay 13 percent more this year, with an average cost of $679 this winter.
- Homeowners who heat with propane may experience a 9 percent increase in utility costs to reach an average price of $1,666.
- Homeowners using electric heating will have a slight cost increase of 2 percent compared to last year. This rise will make the average winter heating cost about $909.
- Homeowners who use heating oil are actually expected to see the cost of the energy resource decrease 2 percent. However, this type of home heating is still the most expensive, with winter heating costs averaging $2,046.
Top tips for reducing energy use this winter
By altering a few behaviors and investing in energy-efficient solutions, a homeowner can certainly reduce the cost of heating his or her home this winter. Some of the best ways to reduce energy use or loss are under $100 or even free.
"There's a lot of things that the entrepreneurial homeowner can do, if he's a little bit handy," said John Ryan, team leader for commercial buildings for the Building Technologies Program in the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, according to MSN.
Here are a few ways to slash a home heating bills:1) Turn down the thermostat. It may seem like such a simple solution, but turning down the temperature on a thermostat when no one is home can save a property owner a considerable amount.
"The rule of thumb is that you can save about 3 percent on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat" full time, said Bill Prindle, deputy director for the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, according to the news source.
He went on to say that homeowners who turn down the thermostat 10 degrees when they are at work and sleeping, which accounts for approximately 16 hours in the day, can save about 14 percent on a monthly heating bill.
2) Update to radiant floor heating. By investing in a radiant floor heating system, a homeowner can save considerable money on keeping a property warm during the winter. The technology reduces the chance of heat loss from occurring because the warmth is being applied more directly to the space and in a consistent manner. Because homeowners and guests are in direct contact with the heat, it's very common for the thermostat to be turned down one or two degrees below what a family might consider the norm. The contact with the heat allows someone to feel warmer and more comfortable overall.
3) Seal air leaks. Any slight opening that connects the indoors to outside is a potential energy leak hazard. Windows and doors are primary culprits, which is why it may be a smart idea to fill any spaces with caulk or spray foam depending on the size of the gap. There are also less permanent options out there, like plastic coverings for windows and cloth insulating wraps to reduce the impact of an air leak.