Aside from your rent or mortgage, few bills are as brutal on your wallet as the heating bill.
All four of the major ways to heat your home will run you a pretty penny, though some less so than others.
Come Winter 2014, average heating costs are expected to run as follows, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration:
Natural Gas: $679
So no matter what, your bank account is going to take a hit.
That’s why it is so important to think about alternate ways to heat your house, rather than just crank up the thermostat and bask in your new-found sweatiness.
Don’t worry – we’re not going to suggest you turn the thing all the way down to zero and bury yourself in a couple dozen heavy blankets.
No, our goal is showcase several cost-effective ways to keep warm while still going about your business as usual.
As you will see, these methods can save you a ton of money, especially if you’re dealing with oil or propane.
But even if you’re not, you can still save a bunch by:
Purchasing a Programmable Thermostat
A non-programmable thermostat is not very likely to keep your heating bills down, unless you stay extremely vigilant with it.
Because you can’t program it ahead of time, you need to manually turn it up or down on your own.
So if you forget to turn it down before you leave for work, that thermostat will keep your empty house toasty and warm at the expense of your grocery bill.
And let’s not even talk about the rude awakening you’d get if you went on a 2-week vacation and forgot to turn the thermostat off beforehand.
Investing in a programmable thermostat can change all that. With one, you can set the time of day, sometimes up to seven days in advance, that you want the thermostat to cool down or heat up.
If you work from 9-5, set your thermostat to stay nice and low for that period every day. If you sleep from 11-7, set it for that time as well.
That hypothetical scenario just netted you 16 hours of minimal heat, and minimal costs, without any vigilance or thought required on your part.
The average programmable thermostat can run as low as $20, and as high as $300.
Either way, you’re going to make that money back real soon. Drastically lowered heating bills tend to do that.
Installing a Pellet Stove
For those of us who don’t have the room for a fireplace, a pellet stove is the next best thing. It all but eliminates the need for additional heating systems, for one.
Also, unless you’re REALLY careless, you never have to worry about leaving a pellet stove on while you’re not home or sleeping (the flames serve as a handy-dandy reminder.)
In addition, the stove might well be tax-deductible, depending on your state, which would hike up the savings even more so.
The only real problem with a pellet stove is the high start-up costs.
The typical stove can run you anywhere from $1000-2000, and the pellet fuels themselves run seven or eight bucks per 40-pound bag, which can add up over time.
However, your vastly decreased heating bill will more than make up for that soon enough, and you can save money on pellet fuel by being smart with them and only using what you need to stay warm.
Insulating Your Attic
Not everybody knows this, and that’s a shame, but if your hose is cold, the answer may lie in your attic.
If your insulation is old, worn out, or nonexistent, drafts can enter your home and trick you into thinking you need to raise the thermostat.
If you schedule an insulation installation, however, those drafts should disappear very quickly, and your house will immediately turn warmer. On certain days, you might forget you have a thermostat!
Insulation prices vary greatly; it all depends on the areas that need insulation and how much of the stuff is required to get the house up to snuff.
But in virtually every single case, you will save massive amounts of money. After all, if you barely have to touch the thermostat, no one can charge you for it.
You don’t have to grit your teeth and bear the cold, nor do you have to take out a bank loan simply to pay your heating bill.
There are many viable ways to stay warm and save money, and you have no excuse not to try them out.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.