Many Virginia families spend $500 or more heating their homes in the winter. Especially if they use electric baseboard heat, utility bills in January or February can put a big strain on family budgets just at the time when you’re trying to pay off the credit card bills from Christmas.
This winter may be colder than past years. In Virginia, it could be wetter than usual, making it feel colder than the thermometer says, according to national weather forecasts. That means you’ll want to turn up the heat — which can get expensive.
Going solar is one of the best ways to cut your utility bill. Making your own energy at home from a free fuel source, sunlight, will save your family money on electricity for years to come.
Another great way to cut your heating bill that’s relatively cheap and easy is to weatherize your home. Basically, that means doing some simple insulation in key areas to close up holes and cracks that allow heat to leak out and cold to blow in.
It’s easy to do some basic weatherizing yourself in a single Saturday afternoon.
With just a little elbow grease and a caulking gun, you can save $150 or more this winter by plugging up the most obvious places for air to pass in and out of your house. By saving energy, you can also do your part for the environment.
Focus on Four Areas
To get the most benefit for the least amount of work, the PowerHouse website says that you should focus on four areas of your home:
- Exterior of Your Home — Put caulk on the rim joist where the floor meets the concrete foundation along with any openings on the wall of your house, including water spigots, electrical outlets, air conditioner hoses, dryer vents, and gas and water pipes.
- Windows — Caulk the outside edges of the window casing and around the edges of window glazing. Also install storm windows on the outside or clear plastic on the inside.
- Doors — Apply caulk to the outside edges of the door casing and install weatherstripping to the inside of the doorjamb. Stop drafts at the bottom of a door with either a door-sweep (vinyl or rubber) or, in a pinch, a rolled up towel.
- Other Areas — Electrical outlets, the opening to your attic and wood fireplaces all lose a surprising amount of heat when it’s cold outside. Caulking them is also a good idea.
Anybody can make these improvements themselves with little effort and low cost. But the rewards can be significant in terms of money savings, environmental benefit and even added comfort.
Of course, you’ll save more money by turning down the thermostat.
A programmable thermostat allows you to turn down the heat when you’re away at work during the day and then set the heat to go on again an hour or so before you get home. Turning down the heat during the day can save you $100 a year or more. And the beauty of it is that you won’t even notice the difference.
— Andrew Brenner, Main Street Solar