With cold weather closing in on Kansas City, you may be concerned about rising energy costs this winter. Some of you may have already started turning on those heaters to ward off the morning chill. Others may still be waiting for that first freeze. Either way, you should be prepared to pay more this winter to heat your home.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy prices are predicted to rise by more than 50% this winter. Many of our customers here at Cates Heating and Cooling use natural gas furnaces to heat their homes, and these customers will be the ones to see the biggest impact on their energy bill this winter.
Find out more below on why energy prices are continuing to increase, and tips for saving on your utility bill this winter.
Why Are Energy Prices Going Up?
Heating your home this winter is forecasted to increase significantly, according to the EIA. Colder weather means higher fuel and gas consumption, and with fuel prices already higher than normal, you should expect to pay a lot if you’re running your furnace.
Last year, energy prices dropped considerably because of the lack of demand during the pandemic. Since then, fuel demand has increased worldwide, causing natural gas prices to rise much higher than last winter. This is mostly due to economic recovery in the U.S. and other countries.
Unfortunately, global oil inventories haven’t been able to keep up with the rising energy demand. That, paired with a winter season that’s expected to be slightly colder than last year, will cause homeowners to spend more money on energy in the coming months.
How much more you’ll pay this winter will depend on many different factors, including your location, how you heat your home, and what weather patterns occur in the region. The EIA stated, “Compared to last winter, we forecast propane expenditures will rise by 54%, heating oil by 43%, natural gas by 30%, and electricity by 6%.”
You can view the EIA’s full Energy Outlook report here.
Ways to Mitigate Extra Energy Costs This Winter
Although rising energy prices may be out of your control, there are other ways to save energy around your home as you turn your heating system on. Take these tips into consideration this winter as you try to save money and lower your utility bill.
1. Upgrade Your Thermostat
Nowadays, you can purchase many different types of thermostats, including smart or programmable thermostats, which let you customize your heating schedule, saving you money in the long run. With a smart thermostat, you can control your home’s temperature from anywhere using your phone, so if you’re away from home, you can turn the temperature down to save energy.
Smart thermostats will also learn your habits and heating preferences and establish a schedule that automatically adjusts your home’s temperature.
2. Set Your Thermostat Lower
Lowering the temperature in your home can help save you money, even if it’s only a few degrees. Set your thermostat to the lowest temperature you are comfortable with, or even lower at night or when you’re not home.
3. Check Your HVAC Filters
The filters in your HVAC system should be cleaned and replaced regularly. This helps keep your HVAC system working efficiently and maintain proper airflow throughout your home. If you’re using the right filters for your HVAC system, you can save money and lower your energy consumption.
4. Snuggle Up
If you’re setting your thermostat to the lowest temperature possible, you’ll want to make sure you stay warm and cozy while in your home. Snuggle up with comfy clothes, a cozy blanket, and a warm cup of tea or a bowl of soup.
Rugs can be used to help insulate your floors and keep your feet cozy and warm. At night, use extra blankets to stay warm while you sleep.
5. Close Vents and Doors
If you have any rooms in your home that you hardly spend any time in, such as guest bedrooms, storage rooms, or the basement, close the air vents and doors to avoid heating them. Heating these spaces is a waste of money and energy, especially if your family isn’t regularly using them.
If you end up having guests or you use these spaces, you can simply open the vents back up.
6. Seal Air Leaks
If your home is feeling a little drafty, you may have air leaks where heat can escape. To seal these, use caulk or weather-stripping, especially around windows or exterior doors where it feels like cold air is coming in.
Cold winter air can also come into your home through light fixtures, electrical outlets, AC units, and gaps in your insulation. Check your basement, attic, and crawl spaces regularly for any air leaks, and consider replacing insulation where larger gaps have developed.
7. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Your ceiling fan can actually be used during the wintertime to keep you warm. Most ceiling fans rotate counterclockwise; however, you can use its reverse switch to change the rotating pattern, creating an updraft as it rotates clockwise. This displaces hot air that gathers near the ceiling and moves it down to warm your room.
8. Use Space Heaters
If you’re only looking to heat a small area in your home, consider using a space heater. Electric space heaters are compact, affordable, and effective in heating smaller, enclosed areas like garages, sheds, bedrooms, offices, or bathrooms. You can keep your home’s overall temperature lower by heating smaller areas around your home as needed for shorter periods of time.
9. Take Advantage of Residual Oven Heat
The holidays are a perfect time for cooking and baking. Make use of any residual heat from your oven afterward by leaving the door open a crack and letting the extra heat into your home as the appliance cools off. However, those with young children and animals may need to take extra precautions to avoid injury.
10. Adjust Your Water Heater
Having your water heating temperature too high not only is a waste of energy but can also become a safety hazard. If you’re water heating is set at a higher temperature, it’s using more energy to stay heated constantly. Plus, if your water heater is set too high, you are at-risk for scalding the skin, causing serious burns. Unless you want a scalding hot shower, it’s always best to turn your water heater down.
11. Check Your Refrigerator
Check your refrigerator to see if it’s set to its recommended temperature. If it’s too cold, you may be paying more money on your utility bill than you should. Keep your refrigerator at the right temperature, and make sure to close the door as soon as possible to avoid letting cold air escape.
12. Use the Sun’s Natural Heat
Keep your blinds and curtains open during the day to let in the heat of the sun. When the sun starts to set in the evening, close your curtains for added insulation and retain any collected heat. Keeping your home a little bit cooler and using the sun’s natural heat can be a lot more affordable for your family.
13. Unplug Unused Electronics
Any electronics using standby power may be using more energy than you may think. Unplug all unused electronics and use surge protectors to easily turn devices off when not in use.
14. Close Your Chimney Damper
Winter is the perfect time to turn on your fireplace and heat your living room. When not in use, close the fireplace’s damper to prevent warm air from escaping or cooler air from leaking in. You can also plug and seal the chimney flue if you never use your fireplace and want a long-term solution.
15. Have Your HVAC System Checked by a Cates Technician
It’s important to have your furnace looked at every year before the winter months begin. Heating professionals can make sure your furnace is working properly and efficiently. If not, they can perform any furnace repair that may be necessary.
At Cates Heating and Cooling, our expert technicians can perform furnace installation, furnace repair, or heat pump repair. We even offer financing options to fit your budget, so you can get any furnace problems taken care of before that first freeze hits. Contact us today at 913-888-4470 for Kansas residents and 816-944-1844 for Missouri residents.