Tuesday, October 4, 2011 / by Justin Hoffmann
Winter heating costs have risen the last few years, meaning many low income homeowners have been unable to properly heat their homes.
Additionally, according to the AARP, "Because more than half (54 percent) of older households in the United States use natural gas as their primary heating fuel, changes in the price of natural gas tend to have the biggest influence on the heating costs of older consumers."
What steps may be taken in order to reduce energy loss and to make energy bills more manageable?
The first order of business is to shop around. If you are using an electric provider, be sure to call competing available providers to see what their rate per kwh is. You might be able to find a cheaper rate for the same service.
If you're in the market for an upgrade or update, consider going green. The initial cost is higher, but you'll reap the rewards for decades to come. There are many companies today that can install solar or wind powered systems in your home. If you don't have the cash upfront to go green, then at least consider all your options. Natural gas and propane costs have risen more than electric over the past few years, but there are other alternatives, such as wood heat.
Regardless of what source of energy you choose, it's important to maintain a properly insulated home. Older homes may have limited insulation in attic spaces or walls. Adding insulation to these spaces can be relatively inexpensive and can be a real money saver, since heat rises and can easily escape through an improperly insulated attic.
Insulation can also go beyond the inside or your walls. Insulated (thermal) curtains can do wonders for conserving energy. This is especially true for North facing windows.
Check for leaks around windows and doors. If you have older, non-insulated windows then consider replacing them with energy efficient upgrades. You can even take a tax credit for these particular improvements. Take this upgrade one step further by using window wrap during installations. Leaks, both old and new, can be filled with caulking. Install storm windows and doors to prevent heat escaping as well.
It gets brutally cold in many areas of the country. Keeping your home toasty warm may not be an option. Be sure to prepare properly for Winter. Stock up on heavy blankets (especially wool) and warm clothes. It may be necessary to pile on the layers instead of turning up the thermostat.
Energy costs will be high this winter. That much is true. Start taking the necessary precautions today to save on costs this season.
by Carla Hill