By all standards, last winter was very mild. The almanacs predicted colder temperatures this year, but so far it’s not too different from 2016. However, fuel prices are projected to be at historic lows this year, meaning your energy savings could be much higher than anticipated. If these projections hold true, many homeowners will experience big-time savings on their home heating bills. Depending on how much you have budgeted to cover your heating costs, a large chunk of that may still be available come spring. While you may be tempted to invest that money into a spring cleaning project or a summer vacation, consider investing in your home’s energy efficiency instead.
“Nothing gold can stay”
Next year is a big maybe, which means you can’t count on natural gas prices to remain this low long-term. Just like any other commodity, natural gas prices are volatile. Additionally, next winter has the opportunity to be drastically different from previous years, which means that there is no way to guarantee another year of savings.
With a presumed surplus of cash, a smart homeowner can begin taking steps to improve their home’s energy efficiency, which can translate to lower heating costs in the future, regardless of gas or electric prices. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- With your extra budget money, upgrade the insulation in your walls and crawl spaces, so that your hard-earned heated air can stay inside the house for you to enjoy. In terms of scale of investment, insulation is rather modest.
- Upgrade to a programmable thermostat, one that lets you adjust the temperature at all times of the day with the push of a few buttons. For maximum savings, the EPA recommends lowering your thermostat at night and during the day when nobody may be active in the house. With a new thermostat, you have control over every degree and can cut costs up to 10% annually.
- Install a heat pump. Heat pumps are a 100% gas and oil-free ventilation system that pulls heat from the cold air and cycles it through your home, without losing the heat that is already indoors.
- Landscape your yard and plant trees. Yes, trees! Trees and shrubs can block those biting winds, while still allowing sunlight to reach your windows, and can even create small pockets of air to help with insulation.
- Upgrade your furnace to a new, high-efficiency model. There may even be tax credits in it for you, making that dollar stretch even farther.
- Hire an HVAC expert to perform an energy audit on your home to discover even more ways your can save.