WASHINGTON – Last year’s mild winter is history, as it looks like it’ll be a pretty normal and cold winter this year. And that could cost you.
Your bill could be 20 percent higher if you heat your home with oil, 15 percent higher if you use natural gas, 13 percent higher if you use propane and 5 percent higher if you use electricity, according to the annual Winter Fuels Outlook from the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration.
Priscilla Knight, spokeswoman for the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, says there are simple inexpensive things you can do now to keep costs down. They include caulking around windows or adding weatherstripping around doors.
“You can lose about 35 percent of your heating through leaks in your home,” says Knight.
Here is a list of other inexpensive things NOVEC recommends to keep your heating costs down:
Insert foam rubber insulation pads under wall outlet and switch covers. Replace covers and push child-protection inserts into outlets to stop drafts.
Wash windows to let the sun’s warmth help heat the house. Close window treatments at night to help keep warm air indoors.
Apply weatherstripping around windows. As an extra wind barrier, cover windows with plastic available at hardware and home stores.
Adhere weatherstripping around drafty exterior doors and attach insulating door sweeps to help block cold air from penetrating under the threshold.
Keep garage doors closed most of the time if the garage is attached to the house.
Set the furnace thermostat at 68 degrees or lower.
Replace heating-system filters monthly. A dirty filter restricts air flow and makes the system work harder.
An open fireplace without glass doors draws heated indoor air up the flue. When the fireplace is not in use, close the damper and glass doors to prevent as much as 14 percent air leakage.