Five Time-saving Ways to Reduce Winter Heating Costs

By: V. B. Velasco Jr.

I will never forget the shock that I received after the first winter gas bill for my house had arrived. I knew that I had to take drastic action to reduce my heating costs. Like many professionals though, I had precious little time to spare. Work pressures, exercise needs, social obligations, various home maintenance tasks-when there's little time left in the day, saving energy often gets pushed to the end of the priority queue.

In other words, I needed some quick, easy ways to reduce my heating bill without a lot of time investment. These tips also needed to be easy and cost-effective. Here are just a few of the tactics that I used:

1.I used wide strips of masking tape to seal off all but one of the doors that lead into the house. This short-term measure can help block out drafts until more properly weatherstripping can be installed. Make sure to use tape that's not very sticky though, since it can peel the paint away if left in place for too long. If you don't have time to install proper weatherstripping, then I recommend inspecting the tape every few days to make sure that it's not bonding to the paint.

2.Fireplace dampers usually do not provide an airtight seal, and are frequently a neglected source of air leaks. In addition, dampers and sometimes difficult to close properly. It helps if your fireplace has a hinged glass door to block air flow, as the one in my living room does. My basement fireplace does not though, nor would it be easy to install one . To help prevent cold air from leaking in, I used a large piece of plywood to block off the basement fireplace. This helps reduce the amount of cold air that comes down through the flue.

3.Make a point of doing laundry on particularly cold nights. That way, the heat generated by the washer and the dryer also contribute toward heating the house. By doing laundry on the coldest of nights, one can ensure that this excess heat will have maximum impact and be put to the best possible use. If possible, do your ironing on these nights as well.

4.Similarly, try to perform all cooking and dishwashing during cold nights as well. This will also ensure that some of the excess heat generated by these activities will go toward raising the ambient temperature. In fact, all heat-generating household chores (steam cleaning, for example) should be scheduled for nights when the temperature is at its lowest.

5.Finally, when draining pasta, I avoid pouring the water directly down the drain. Rather, I like to pour as much of the water as I can into a small pail or an empty coffee can. That way, the heat from the water will go toward heating the home as well.

Of course, one should also adopt lifestyle changes that help reduce the need to keep the house warm. Wear thick clothing or a warm bathroom at night, for example. Wearing socks around the house can also do wonders for keeping one's self warm.

Money Management
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