With the energy costs up, what are some cheap ways to save on heat this winter?
Hoosiers are likely to see higher heating bills this winter. It’s expected to be colder than last year and the price of natural gas and coal is up.
Assuming you’ve turned down your thermostat as low as it can go without freezing your pipes — or your toes — here are some tips on cheap ways to save energy from Olivia Rivera of the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor. All costs are estimates.
FREE: Turn down your hot water heater
The OUCC said water heaters are some of the least energy-efficient appliances in your home. Keeping the water heater at 115-120 degrees should be hot enough for your shower and to kill off bacteria.
FREE: Run your ceiling fans clockwise
There should be a switch on your ceiling fan that turns the fan the opposite direction. Running your fan clockwise pulls the colder air up towards the ceiling and redistributes the warm air in your home.
$5-$20: Put plastic sheeting over leaky windows
Plastic sheeting, double-sided tape, and a hair dryer are all you need for this trick. Most hardware stores carry inexpensive kits with the sheeting and tape included. This quick video shows how to do it.
$3-$25: Use weatherstripping around leaky doors and windows
Weatherstripping can help fill in the gaps that let heat escape to the outside. The cost for weatherstripping can vary a lot depending on what kind of materials you use and how much you need.
If you live in a rental and don’t want to add weatherstripping, you might consider buying a cloth draft stopper like this one. Rivera said you can also make your own at home.
Don’t forget to check the door to your fridge too. Rivera suggests placing a dollar bill between the opening to your fridge and shutting the door. If you pull on the dollar bill and it comes out easily, she said it’s time to replace the weather stripping in the seal.
PRICELESS: Heating your home safely
Rivera said not to use your oven for heat. If you use a space heater, make sure it’s not near anything that could catch fire and that it turns off if it tips over.
READ MORE: Study: People struggling to pay energy bills engage in 'risky' behaviors to cope.
Rivera said winter is also a good time to test your fire alarms.
The OUCC's website has more tips on how to reduce your heating bills.
Contact reporter Rebecca Thiele at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.