12 Tips to Lower Your Heating Bill This Winter

This winter season is shaping up to be an expensive one: heating costs are expected to rise 30-50 percent, and natural gas will cost 40-50 percent more this winter than last.

Why the major increase? According to Erin Dammen, an Alliant Energy spokeswoman, three factors are responsible.

• Hurricanes on the Gulf Coast have disrupted gas pipelines and refineries, causing supplies to diminish and costs to increase.

• The economy is strong, prompting competition for fuel.

• Because the summer was so hot, power companies used natural-gas-fired plants to generate electricity for air conditioners, which decreased natural gas reserves.

Just how much your heat bill will increase depends on a number of factors, but the primary one is one you can't control: the weather. "Weather is the No. 1 variable on what people pay for heating costs," Dammen said.

Mother Nature aside, there are many steps you can take to lower your heating bill as much as possible, no matter how low the temperatures go.

1. Add a furnace humidifier. A 68-degree home with some moisture may actually feel warmer than a 72-degree home with dry air.

2. Lock your windows. This ensures the tightest seal to keep warm air in and cold air out.

3. Replace your furnace filters. This should be done at least every few months, but they can be cleaned every month. Clogged furnace filters lower the heater's efficiency.

4. Use ceiling fans to your advantage. Fans are not just for summer. Use them on the "reverse" switch to push warm air down from the ceiling.

5. Seal any gaps. Gaps and cracks can show up all over your home: between brick and wood siding, around windows and doors, in the attic and near the chimney. Identify any gaps and then seal them off with weather stripping or other sealants.

6. Keep the chimney damper closed when not in use. Otherwise, up to 8 percent of your heated air could go up in smoke.

7. Use rugs under doors. Rolling up a small rug and placing it under your door will help to insulate the room.

Open shutters/drapes during the day. When the sun is shining, take advantage of the extra heat by keeping your shutters/drapes open. Close them in the evening for extra insulation.

1. Set the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day, 60 degrees at night. Every degree above these temperatures can increase your bill by 3 percent. If you feel cold, put on a sweater and get cozy under a warm blanket.

2. Keep hot water use to a minimum. This will reduce your costs of heating the water. Also, using low-flow showerheads and faucets can cut your hot water costs by 10-16 percent.

3. Install storm doors and windows. This helps dramatically in keeping cold air out and warm air in.

4. Don't rely on portable heaters. Keeping your home overly cool and relying on small portable heaters to keep you warm is not likely to save you money in the long run. One portable heater that runs for eight hours a day can add over $60 a month to your bill.
Keeping Your Home's Air Clean in the Winter

During the winter, it's important to keep the air in your home clean and well circulated, as opening windows for ventilation is usually not an option. To keep your home's air as clean as possible, follow these important tips:

Keep Dust Out

Several thousand dust mites, along with a host of other unsavory particles, can be found in just a pinch of household dust. A few high-quality mats, like the Waterhog Grand Premier Mats, placed strategically around your home (such as in doorways and other highly trafficked areas), will go a long way toward reducing the amount of dirt and dust that get into your home in the first place. Once inside, that dirt gets circulated into the air, and you breathe it in.

You can also keep house dust to a minimum by using the right cleaning tools. The PerfectClean line of mops, dusters, towels and more, which are used by leading hospitals and other health care organizations are ideal for this. Rather than just pushing dust around, or worse, stirring it up into the air, PerfectClean products are made with positively charged ultramicrofibers that pick up everything in their path--including dust and all of its microscopic attachments.

Filter Your Air

Because most of us spend the majority of our time indoors, and indoor air can be two to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, many people are choosing to filter their home's air. The top-rated PIONAIR Air Treatment System is our most recommended choice for this, as it uses actively generated negative ions to effectively remove particulate such as pollen, dust, pet dander and smoke, as well as mold, mildew, organic odors and chemical vapors from the air.

Keeping in mind these tips to reduce your heating bill while keeping your home's air clean will ensure that this winter you'll be warm and toasty--not left out in the cold.

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