Cold weather usually means steaming drinks and holiday cheer, but it can also bring expensive heating bills. The cost of heating your home can account for nearly a third of your utility bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And this year, the cost of natural gas is already twice as expensive as last year, and heating oil and propane are also rapidly rising, according to the New York Times. If this winter is somewhat colder than normal, energy bills could rise 94 percent for households depending on propane, 50 percent for those heated by natural gas, and 15 percent for those that rely on electricity for heating, according to projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
While insulation and double- or triple-pane windows are the most effective strategies to keep the heat in, it can be expensive to add them to an existing structure. However, the following tasks and habits can still make a difference in your comfort and reduce your utility bills, even if you rent and can’t make major modifications to your space.
1. Close the gap.
If you’ve ever sat next to a drafty door or a window, you know that small cracks and seams can let in a surprising amount of cold air. Tackle these sneaky heat thieves with weather stripping and caulk. Install new weatherstripping around outside doors if you can see light or feel air where the door meets the jam, or if none is currently in place. You can also use weatherstripping to better seal around an attic or crawlspace hatch. Caulk around baseboards and window frames, and check to see if the weatherstripping on operable windows is worn and in need of replacing.
Smart tip: Electrical outlets and light switches can let heat seep out into uninsulated walls, but inexpensive foam outlet gaskets are both easy to install and effective.