How to Save on Energy Costs — And Conserve Energy — This Winter
Heating costs can add up quickly in the winter, particularly if you rely on cranking the heat to stay warm in colder climates.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated household costs for American homes last winter totaled $1,437 using propane, $1,392 for oil, and $930 for electric heat.
No matter what energy source used, winter heating costs can significantly impact your overall budget. But taking some simple steps to conserve energy can help you lower expenses now and in the future, not only by reducing money spent, but also by taking advantage of energy-related tax incentives.
Here are three tips to help you stay warm and comfortable this winter, while reclaiming some of your energy expenses and conserving energy in the process… (Your wallet and Mother Nature will be happy!)
1 – Install Shutters
Interior shutters come in a variety of sizes, styles and colors and enable you to make a distinct statement in any room of your home. Plus, many shutters help prevent drafts and will help you keep heat inside your home during winter. Close your shutters on a cold day, and you’ll be able to prevent some heat loss due to poorly insulated windows, ensuring you can cut down on your energy bills.
2 – Take Advantage of a Zone Control System
A zone control system may prove to be exceedingly valuable, as it gives you greater control over the temperature in different areas of your home. You can adjust the temperature in separate rooms, not wasting heat on rooms you’re not using. This means if you’re sleeping in your upstairs bedroom or watching TV in your den, you’ll be able to use a thermostat to increase or decrease the temperature for that portion of your home only.
A zone control system could provide a significant cost-saver and may help you lower your energy bills winter after winter. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has estimated homeowners could save up to 30 percent on an average heating and cooling bill thanks in part to a zone control system.
It is important to note the the U.S. government offers tax credits on cooling and heating equipment as well. If you purchase a zone control system in conjunction with a heat pump, you may be able to earn money back on your tax return.
3 – Purchase an Energy Star Furnace
Even if your furnace has served you well for many years, it will wear down over an extended period of time. When it comes time to replace your furnace, look into the benefits of a high-efficiency unit. Brands with the Energy Star label are designed for optimal efficiency, and as such, will enable you to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout your home and minimize your energy consumption. At the same time, Energy Star furnaces have been shown to be up to 16 percent more efficient than standard models, resulting in an average savings of $94 annually.
Ultimately, an Energy Star furnace may prove to be a higher upfront investment than a traditional furnace. But thanks to the long-term savings on energy costs, you may wind up reducing your overall bills by hundreds or thousands of dollars.
An Energy Star furnace is eligible for tax credits, too. If you purchase an Energy Star furnace before winter, you may be able to receive a credit on your tax return. In fact, the credit can work retroactively for purchases made in 2015. Energy Star products eligible for tax credits are independently certified to save energy, save money and protect the environment. Use up to 30% less energy in your home and get a tax incentive in the process — a win-win. To apply for the credit, visit this website.
Don’t let home heating costs overwhelm you this winter by cranking (and wasting) energy. Instead, increase your efficiency and follow the above tips. By conserving energy you can stay warm and save money in the process.
[Editor’s Note: This post is a guest submission from Katie Laird of Blinds.com]
Learn more about the tax benefits of college savings accounts like 529 plans and Coverdell ESAs with the experts at H&R Block.