Last year’s warmer winter meant a drop in natural gas prices and winter utility bills – people simply used less gas to heat their homes. If we face a more seasonable winter this year, homeowners and renters could be in for a modest increase in utility bills this year. While you can’t control natural gas prices, there are easy ways to keep your home warm and save money on your utility bills.
Figure out where you’re going wrong
One of the first steps to reducing your monthly bills is to find out where you’re wasting energy. Is your house drafty? Are your windows leaking heat? While a professional home energy audit can help you save money, calling the pros can be pricey. To save money, try a do-it-yourself audit to track down air leaks and find inefficient electronics and lighting. Plugging air leaks is one of the cheapest and easiest home fixes that can result in real energy savings— in a typical home, plugging leaks can help save up to 10% on heating bills, fuel consumption and emissions during the heating season, according to the Department of Energy.
Kill the lights (and your other bad habits).
Sometimes the little things make all the difference. Do you ever forget to unplug your phone when it’s done charging? The drain on energy from “off” electronics can add around 5%-10% to the average residential energy bill, so remember to unplug your electronics when you’re not using them. Keep doors, windows and curtains shut. Grab an extra sweater and lower the heat a few degrees. And of course, don’t forget to hit the lights if you’re not using a room.
Try new tricks
Warm air rises, leaving many rooms in the lower parts of the house chilly. To combat this, change your ceiling fans to spin clockwise to push the warm air back down to you. Put away the grill, and get ready to bake – turning on the oven to make those holiday treats can really warm up your house. If you have a fireplace, don’t forget to close the flue, which can let in a big draft.
Take advantage of tax rebates
Making home improvements now can help you save money in the long run. The IRS offers tax credits like the Residential Energy Efficient Tax Credit, which offers a credit on everything from energy-efficient furnaces to heat-saving insulation. This is the last year the IRS is offering this credit, so making your upgrades before the year ends could help boost your tax refund. In addition, state governments offer many tax credits, rebates and savings programs to help make energy-efficient home improvement products more affordable. In some cases, tax incentives can help you save up to 30% of the cost of improvements like insulation new doors, or new windows.” By breaking a few old habits and learning a few new tricks, you can prepare to save on utilities this winter. Make sure to save your receipts and ask your local Jackson Hewitt tax preparer about tax credits you may be eligible for this tax season. For more information, visit Jackson Hewitt’s My JH.