MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On a night like Tuesday night, just about every Minnesotan is turning on the furnace. But with the average homeowner spending $700 on heating costs in the winter, what can we do to cut our heating bill?
• Replace Your Furnace Filter
During the winter, most furnace filters need to be changed every month. The more dirt on the filter, the harder the furnace has to work to move the air around. Keeping your filter clean could cut your energy costs by 5 percent, or about $35 a winter.
• Seal Leaks On Doors And Windows
“That’s the only thing stopping the cold wind from coming into your house,” said Joel Lafonataine, a technician with Home Energy Squad, a joint effort of CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy.
For $50, Home Energy Squad will come into customers’ homes, and replace the programmable thermostat, weatherstrip one door, and provide a High efficiency shower head, kitchen sink aerator, Bathroom aerator, Refrigerator thermometer and Water heater thermometer.
“The average Minnesotan’s home has cracks and holes that equal the size of a basketball,” said Lafontaine. “Windows are one of those places you see those cracks.”
Caulking the windows and changing the weatherstripping on doors can cut your bill by 10 percent, around $70 a winter.
• Use A Window Insulation Kit
You’ve seen people putting a film over their windows and patio doors, and according to Lafontaine, it makes a difference, especially depending on the age and condition of the windows.
According to 3M, a manufacturer of insulation kits, if you seal 10 average windows you can save $113 a winter. Sealing 10 fairly leaky windows saves you $186 over a heating season.
• Make Hot Water Heater Changes
Putting a blanket over your hot water heater isn’t as necessary as it once was, considering the newer hot water heaters have strong insulation as part of the main unit.
“It’s one of the lower savings, it does make a difference though,” said Lafontaine.
Home Energy Squad provides a thermometer to test your hot water, and they recommend setting your heater so the water ends up around 120 degrees.
They also recommend replacing your showers and faucets with low-flow aerators.
“You do have to pay to heat that water,” he said.
All together, those hot water changes can add up to another 10 percent in savings, or $70.
• Use A Programmable Thermostat
“For us it’s the No. 1 thing. It’s also the biggest money saver to you,” said Lafontaine.
He still sees many homes with a locked thermostat, or a thermostat set at “hold,” which doesn’t give the benefit of setting.
“We like to tell people, for every 8 degrees you can go down during the cooling season, for 8 hours, you can save 8 percent on your heating cost,” said Lafontaine.
So if you set your thermostat at 68 degrees when you’re home, drop it to 60 while you’re at work, then back up and down to 60 overnight, you’ll save 16 percent, or $112.
“It depends on the house, but it’s a lot of money,” he said.
• Turn Off Your Fireplace Pilot Light
The big surprise: keeping my fireplace pilot light constantly lit costs $40 a winter. Newer fireplaces can automatically fire up the pilot light when you flip on the fireplace. Otherwise, you can save money by turning the pilot off when you don’t plan on using it.