Save Money on Your Heating Bills this Winter

Save Money on Your Heating Bills this Winter

Now is the time to prepare your home for the upcoming cooler temperatures to reduce natural gas and electricity usage over the fall and winter. The consumption of natural gas in buildings contributes 27% of Alameda’s greenhouse gas emissions. Weatherizing your home will not only protect the climate, but it will also reduce your energy bills. So where should one start?

If you haven’t insulated your attic yet, that is the most effective thing you can do to reduce your heating bills. Insulating material’s resistance to conductive heat flow is rated in terms of its thermal resistance or R-value. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness.  Insulation with at least an R-30 rating in the San Francisco Bay Area is recommended in the attic.

Next consider getting a smart thermostat. What makes a thermostat smart? They are programmable to create a heating schedule; one temperature during the day, and a lower temperature at night for example. Some smart thermostats can sense if anyone is at home, and if not, lower the temperature. App alert options can remind you when to change heating filters. Energy reports can tell you how much energy you are using and how to cut back. Alameda Municipal Power offers rebates on smart thermostats. See for details.

How long has it been since you installed weather stripping around external doors and older windows? Weather stripping closes gaps that let in cold air and allow heat to escape but can deteriorate over time. Check your weather stripping and install new stripping as needed. It’s a low-cost technique.

Caulking is also cheap and effective. Caulk around windowpanes with leaks. Also caulk around where plumbing, electrical wiring or ducting enters through walls to seal those gaps. For larger gaps use foam sealant. Use caution when sealing leaks around fireplace chimneys, furnaces, and water heater vents. These call for fire-resistant materials such as sheetrock, sheet metal and furnace cement caulk.

Other measures include using heavy curtains or shades on windows to retain heat, closing the fireplace damper when not in use, changing furnace filters regularly, installing foam gaskets behind electrical outlets, and putting on a sweater and slippers so you can lower the heat a bit.

Let’s all lower our heating power consumption this season, protect the climate and reduce our energy bills.