Do you have a heart attack every time you get a heat bill in the winter? This year, you can stop stressing and save some money without resorting to living in an arctic tundra abode.
Egypt Sherrod, host of HGTV’s, “Property Virgins,” and personal finance expert, shows us simple ways to keep utility costs down when the weather outside gets frightful.
Prep for winter:
Fix defective plumbing
Don’t ignore leaky faucets. “This should be high on your list,” warns Sherrod. “You don’t want your pipes to freeze over.” That would be an even bigger expense. To avoid this she says insulate your hot water pipes.
“Once a year, you should completely drain your water heater tank and flush out the sediments,” say Sherrod. “It will save you money on your bill because it will make it more efficient.” Another tip: wrap an insulating blanket around your hot water heater. “It gives it a little extra protection,” she says.
Insulation is key
“50 percent of energy wasted in winter months comes from un-insulated walls, floors, ceiling and attics,” says Sherrod. “It’s like putting a jacket on your house. You wouldn’t go outside in five degree weather without a coat, and you wouldn’t want your house to be sitting there without insulation either.”
Keep the temperature at 68 degrees and add two to three comforters to your bed, says the expert. You’ll be bundled up without breaking the bank. “You save three percent for every degree you dial down your heat,” Sherrod says.
Dress your drapes
Head to the fabric store and get a few yards of insulator fabric and some adhesive Velcro strips. Attach the insulator fabric with the Velcro strips to the drapes on the side closest to the window. “My Grandmom always did this trick and now it’s ingrained in our family — you don’t have to be a Martha Stewart to do it,” says Sherrod. “If your drapes have an insulating liner, it can cut your heat loss in half.”
Switch on your ceiling fan
Most people only have ceiling fans spinning when the weather is warm, but they can also benefit you during the colder months as well. “There is a switch on most that reverse the direction of air flow,” Sherrod says. “This blows your heat back down to you instead of going up through the ceiling and roof.”
Read the manual
“A lot of people have programmable thermostats and don’t know how to use them,” Sherrod says. “They walk by and see the arrows up and down and assume that in the winter you push the up arrow a few times, and in the summer the down one a couple times.”
Actually learning how to use it will save you 20 percent on you bill.”
Winter window treatment
Cover your windows in shrink-wrap. “It’s an additional barrier to keep the heat inside,” Sherrod says. “All you need is a little adhesive or duck tape — it doesn’t have to be fancy.”
Light bulb moment
Make the smart choice by buying compact fluorescent light bulbs. “They will save you $50 on a $100 lighting bill,” Sherrod says. “Not only do they last ten times longer, but they also use 75 percent less energy.”
Defend against drafts
“Since you can’t really insulate your apartment walls, be sure to get some draft blockers to go around the doors,” Sherrod says.
Eliminate Excess Energy
Unplug all electronics when you’re not using them. “This will help save on your energy bill,” Sherrod says. “They still use energy when not turned on.”