CHICO, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 12/12/12 -- With natural gas and oil prices on the rise, U.S. homeowners are expected to pay A LOT more to heat their homes this winter. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, homes that use natural gas will see a 15 percent increase in heating bills this winter -- adding an estimated $89 more to gas bills each month. Homes that rely on heating oil will see an 11 percent increase -- adding an estimated $407 more to the monthly bill. To help counteract rising heating costs, Build.com, the leading online-only home improvement retailer, unveils three things every homeowner can do to slash heating bills this winter.
"We can't control factors like fuel costs or the weather, but we can be smart about how we prepare our homes for winter," said Build.com's DIY Specialist, Sean Murphy. "A few basic repairs and one or two simple changes can add up to big savings in your December and January heating bills."
To reduce winter heating bills, homeowners can consider the following money-saving suggestions from Build.com:
1. Winter-proof the windows: Windows can be a home's most attractive feature. They provide views, lighting, ventilation -- and most importantly, a natural source of heat during the frigid winter months. Unfortunately, they can also account for 10 to 25 percent of a home's total heating bill by allowing heat to escape. This winter, make sure all windows are properly sealed. Replace weather stripping, and re-caulk windows to ensure even the smallest leaks are plugged. When the project is done, be sure to seal the caulking tube properly so it can be reused for future projects. For a quick tutorial, watch this 30-second tip from Build.com on How to Seal a Caulking Tube.
Think of window coverings as a home's blanket. Close curtains, shades and blinds to keep the warm air in. When the sun does decide to come out, keep coverings open to allow it to naturally heat the room. In addition to cutting energy costs, some window coverings qualify for energy-efficiency tax credits. Though tax credits vary by state, the average homeowner can save up to $1,000 with qualifying rebates.
2. Keep tabs on the thermostat: Dialing back the thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees will save 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs. As a general rule of thumb, a home should be kept at, or below, 68 degrees for maximum cost efficiency.
Homes with programmable thermostats should set the heater to turn on 30 minutes before someone arrives, and turn off 30 minutes before everyone heads to bed. Programmable thermostats are a great winter investment, saving the average homeowner about $180 in energy costs every year when using pre-programmed settings, and can be easily installed by the homeowner. To learn how, watch this how-to video from Build.com on How to Install a Programmable Thermostat.
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