Couple relaxing by a fire

With much of the country seeing biting cold air from the Arctic, lowering temperatures to record lows, our energy grid is struggling in some areas to keep the power flowing.  Across the country there are reports of power plants having trouble getting fuel – from natural gas to oil – causing electricity prices to surge.

So what can families do to help blunt price spikes as we enter the beginning of a brutal winter? Here are some tips to save on your heating bill.

  1. Turn down the heat when no one will be home.  It may be tempting to come home to a toasty warm house, but by turning back your thermostat for 10° to 15° for 8 hours, you can save about 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill.
  2. Make sure to seal leaks and gaps in unfurnished spaces like cupboards and closets.  The same goes for chimneys and recessed lighting.
  3. If your house has a fireplace, be sure to check the snugness of the flue damper and keep it closed when not in use.  The Department of Energy also suggests that consumers “purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.”
  4. Draw back the blinds on south-facing windows and take advantage of natural sunlight to heat and warm rooms during the day.
  5. Change your air filter regularly during high use times in the winter and summer. Energy Star recommends doing so at least every three months to keep from overburdening your heating and cooling system with excess dust and dirt.