5 Ways You're Spending More on Heating Than Planned

You've invested in a programmable thermostat and you turn the temperature down every time you leave the house, so you think you're being responsible and saving on your heating costs. However, there are smaller issues that can also increase your heating costs. Ensure you're spending as little as possible by avoiding these problems that can drive up energy expenses.

1. Not Plugging Air Leaks

While most people know that heat can escape through cracks around windows and doors, there are countless other spots around the house where air leaks can occur. There are many other places in your home that can allow heat to escape, including the areas around electrical outlets, wall switches, fireplace dampers, vents, cable and phone lines, baseboards, and wall-mounted air conditioning units. To check for air leaks, hold a candle near these spots. If you see the flame waver, there's a breeze coming in and you're wasting energy.

2. Setting Your Water Heater Temperature Too High

Most manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet many households can lower the thermostat to 120 degrees and not notice any difference in water heat. The U.S. Department of Energy states that it's possible to waste over $400 every year bringing water up to 140 degrees and up to $61 by keeping water at that temperature.

3. Not Cleaning Your HVAC System

When your HVAC unit runs, it pulls in dirt and dust from the air it's circulating. These contaminants then settle throughout the system and decrease your unit's efficiency. In fact, dirty coils alone can cause your unit to consume up to 37 percent more energy. Once a year, have a professional come to your home to clean and service your HVAC system so it's operating at peak efficiency.

4. Placing Your Thermostat in a Bad Spot

If you want your HVAC system to run efficiently, you need to make sure the thermostat is in a good location. Placing your thermostat in direct sunlight or near appliances that give off a lot of heat will make it think your house is hotter than it actually is. This causes it to run your HVAC unit more than necessary. Similarly, the second floor of a house is typically warmer than the first floor, and having the thermostat up there can make one floor more uncomfortable than the other.

5. Not Using Your Ceiling Fans Correctly

Ceiling fans aren't meant to cool entire rooms, just people. If there's no one in the room, you should turn the ceiling fan off to conserve energy. In the summer, your ceiling fan should rotate counterclockwise. This forces air down on you and makes you feel cooler. In the winter, flip the switch to reverse the motor and have the ceiling rotate clockwise at a low speed. This pulls the warm air from the ceiling and pushes down to your level of the room. While you might think you're doing everything you can to cut your heating costs, if you're missing any of the previous examples, you could be spending more money than you planned.