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Consumer Reports: Tips to save money and stay warm this winter

Posted at 1:39 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 14:45:13-04

(CONSUMER REPORTS/WTVF) — Winter is coming, and so are higher heating bills, according to a recent Energy Administration report.

If you haven't already turned up or even turned on your heat for the season, it won't be long before you do. And whether you heat with gas, electricity or oil, there are ways to keep costs down.

The government report made headlines and shocked consumers: Home heating bills could jump an average of 30% for most Americans, depending on the type of fuel they use.

Consumer Reports can’t make energy costs lower, but its experts can share some easy ways to help you reduce the amount of energy you use.

“Your HVAC system actually uses the most energy in your house, and it’s important to make sure everything is running efficiently and not wasting fuel,” said Dan Wroclowski, Consumer Reports Home Editor.

That usually requires some professional maintenance at least once a year, but there are things you can do yourself.

Start by checking the filters-when they’re dirty — the unit has to work harder, so clean and replace them regularly.

Next, check your doors and windows. Don’t let the warm air you’re paying for inside leak outside.

“You can easily install new weather stripping and draft blockers around your doors and windows to seal in warm air. For Bigger gaps use foam. Cold air can come in through outlets on external walls, so pop in some foam outlet sealers,” said Wroclowski.

And think about installing a smart thermostat. They save energy by lowering the temperature when you’re asleep or away.

“In fact, many of them use sensors and your phone’s location data to learn your routine and adjust your home’s temperature accordingly,” said Wroclowski.

Adding an extra blanket and lowering the thermostat 10 to 15 degrees overnight can cut your heating costs up to 10%.

And for even more savings, check with your utility company. It might even offer rebates and incentives to make some energy upgrades.

And if you haven’t done this already, don't forget to reverse the direction of your ceiling fans, so the blades push the warm air down. Most ceiling fans have a switch on the center column you can flip to change the blades' direction.