Sense & Centsibility Blog

Did Your Heating Bill Make You Cringe?

We are stuck in a deep freeze in Minnesota, barely getting above 0° during the day. My co-worker was lamenting her recent heating bill and suggested it would be a good blog post. I agreed, as I pulled my sweater tighter around me, teeth chattering.

When you live in areas with extreme weather, cold or hot, it can be a matter of life or death to be able to moderate the climate inside your home. Cold is our big worry here in the northern tier, and it is a big expense to stay warm.

What Can You Do?

  1. Get an Energy AuditHeating house

    Do you live in an older home? We didn’t have energy efficiency technology for construction 100 years ago, but there are things you can do to make your old home more efficient. Most utility companies offer energy audits for a reasonable price. Audits can pinpoint where heat loss is occurring and recommend fixes. Adding insulation or caulking holes isn’t a major expense.
  2. Watch Your Windows

    Windows are a huge source of heat loss. Replacing windows is a major expense, but plastic film is easily applied over leaky windows. I’ve read it can save $18/year per window. The film is reusable next season, too. I will testify from personal experience that the film will make your home much more comfortable. Additionally, that cold breeze from the window hitting your neck while you are curled up in your favorite chair is stopped!
  3. Lower Your thermostat

    Each one-degree drop can reduce your energy bill by 1-3 percent. Going from 75° to 68° could potentially save 20% on your heating bill. “No way!” you say. “I’m cold!” If saving money isn’t motivating you to turn down the heat a few degrees and put on a cozy sweater, consider this: cold helps you burn calories. Facing the New Year with some extra pounds and it’s too frigid to go for a run? You can burn as many calories in 15 minutes of shivering cold as you can in an hour of exercise. Watch this cool (pun intended) video from the American Chemical Society: The Cold Truth About Fat.
  4. Utilize the Cold

    Hang your laundry to dry in the winter. String up some lines around the house; use chairs or a drying rack; or hang clothes on shower/curtain rods. Winter air here is desert dry—clothes will dry in a couple of hours. Besides saving money, you are adding badly needed humidity to your indoor air.

Can’t Pay Your Heating Bill?

  1. If, after all those cost-saving measures, you still can’t afford that heat bill, contact your utility for a budget plan, where you spread out your heating costs throughout the year. No more enormous bills in winter.
  2. Look for resources in your community for heating assistance. Read this blog for ideas: The Cold Weather Rule-Keeping the Heat On.
  3. Meet with a financial counselor to review your household finances for other strategies to keep the heat on in the winter. Click HERE to get started!

Author Mary Ellen Kaluza is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling and her specialties include budget, credit, debt counseling, financial education, and frugality.