No, the Answer Isn’t ‘Move South.’
If you’re concerned cold weather this winter is going to drive your heating bill up to terrifying heights, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce your heating bill – even as a tenant in someone else’s home. We won’t advise you to do anything your landlord might disapprove of — just the best ways to knock your bill down safely and intelligently.
Dress your Distress
The first step — and we know your mother used to tell you this when you were younger — is to put on more clothes and turn the thermostat down. Get some thick socks, or better yet, fuzzy slippers, a Snuggie, some thick sweaters and learn to love them. Every few degrees you can tolerate turning the heat down will save you tens of dollars per month.
Then Dress Your Windows
One of the best defenses against the cold is to put a layer of plastic over your windows — inside or outside, it doesn’t matter. You can find the right kind of plastic at any hardware store. The trick is to tape twice: first, tape over the window frame itself, covering all of the cracks. Then put the plastic over the windows and tape all the way around the plastic thoroughly so that as little air as possible gets in or out. That will create ‘dead air’ zone that provides surprisingly good insulation.
Keep The Heat In
If you’re going to be cooking, showering, or otherwise generating heat with your activities, try to direct that heat into whatever room you intend to occupy afterwards. Use doors, curtains, and other methods of directing the airflow to keep your warmest air headed toward your most-occupied room. Don’t use your bathroom or kitchen fans unless there’s a smoke problem or a smell you need to be rid of. Similarly, keep your doors, windows, curtains, and fireplace flue shut when you’re trying to keep the heat in.
Actively Use Your Thermostat
It’s easy to leave your thermostat on whatever temperature is the most comfortable — but if you turn it down when you’re going to sleep or going to be gone for more than an hour, you’ll save yourself a little money on your bill every time.
Get a Door Snake
A door snake is a simple device that usually attaches to the bottom of your outside doors. The concept is simple: less drafts come in under your doors, and that saves heat. The cheapest door snakes cost just a few bucks at your local home improvement store, and they’ll pay for themselves inside of a couple of weeks.
Be Conscious of Humidity
Air that’s more humid feels warmer, so if you have dehumidifier, turn it down or even off for the winter. Don’t use your kitchen fan to suck all of the valuable steam out when you’re cooking — but don’t waste electricity boiling water you’re not going to use for any specific purpose, either. Just try to keep the humidity comfortably higher than you would in the summer.
Don’t Use the Fireplace
If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace in your rental, don’t use it. Fireplaces suck the warm air out of your home, feed the fire with it, and then send it spiraling out the chimney. It may feel warmer right up next to the fireplace, but the net effect is to make your ‘real’ heating method work overtime.
Don’t Heat Rooms You Aren’t Using
This should be obvious, but just in case — don’t turn on the heating (and/or keep the registers closed) in the rooms you’re not currently using. And keep the doors closed between them and the rooms you are.
It’s not difficult to save yourself fifty or even a hundred bucks a month – which can add up over the course of an entire winter, and all without risking your landlord’s disapproval. Most of it is common sense and a few small investments that will more than pay themselves off in time. Happy winter, and keep warm!