Here’s the bad news: The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is predicting rising heating costs this winter for households using natural gas, propane and heating oil. The good news? According to the Alliance to Save Energy, U.S. consumers can “insulate” themselves against this winter’s projected fuel cost spike by adopting energy efficiency measures now.
About that spike: A 10 percent increase in oil prices is expected to suck an extra $193, on average, out of your household’s budget this winter. Those numbers, along with expected hikes in propane and natural gas prices, clearly come at a bad time, when many American families are struggling to make ends meet.
Here are some of the measures the organization recommends for beating the high cost of heat this winter: plug up leaks to the outside with caulk and weather stripping, and install more insulation; tune up your HVAC system to make sure it’s operating at peak efficiency (by calling a qualified contractor); and set your programmable thermostat to lower temps at night, and when your house is vacant; and keep furnace filters clean (checking once a month is recommended).
Other recommended energy efficiency measures include sealing your heating and cooling ducts (again, with the help of a qualified contractor); keeping the hot water heater set at 120 degrees; opening curtains to south- and west-facing windows during the day to let in sunlight and heat, and closing them at night; installing more efficient windows; and replacing old, inefficient appliances with new ones that are qualified by the EPA‘s Energy Star program.
More energy-saving tips are available online.