This Simple Step Could Shave 15% Off Your Monthly Heating Bill

Five strategies to beat the deep-freeze—without breaking the bank.

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How to save on electric bill - energy-efficient home in winter
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How to save on home heating bills in Canada

The average Canadian household spends upward of $4,280 on natural gas and electricity bills each year; much of that during winter, when cold drafts entering the home can significantly jack up indoor energy use. Here are some hints on how to stay toasty warm this winter without taking a massive financial hit.

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Home heating bills Canada - replacing furnace filter
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Maintain your furnace

Do-it-yourself: Check furnace filters once a month for lint buildup, and clean or replace them every three months. Clogged with dirt and dust, they can be an energy vampire. Regardless of age or quality, a furnace should undergo a checkup every two years (or annually, for an oil system) to prevent expensive breakdowns and maintain the manufacturer’s warranty.

Read more on how to save on hydro this season.

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How to lose weight without exercise - turn thermostat down
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Turn down your thermostat

Do-it-yourself: Setting your thermostat back by 4°C to 6°C for eight hours each day can shave up to 15 per cent off your heating bill. Direct Energy suggests it’s most efficient to keep your home at 21°C when you’re at home in the daytime and at 16°C otherwise. Contrary to popular belief, your furnace won’t work extra hard to bring temperatures back up. (Here are more home heating myths you need to stop believing.)

Big fix: Try a thermostat with a brain (such as Nest): some will track your daily home-and-away habits, set the temperature accordingly and are programmable using your smartphone.

Find out the best temperatures to set everything in your home.

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House roof in winter
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Inspect your roof and gutters

Do-it-yourself: Before temperatures dip below freezing, clean your gutters and downspouts of any leaves and debris clogs—clogs mean melting ice will seep into roof shingles. If you have an operational fireplace, make sure its damper is still working and keep it closed when not in use.

Big fix: Think of insulation like the tuque your roof needs to wear in winter—up to 25 per cent of a home’s heat can be lost through the roof if it’s not properly insulated.

Need some motivation to tackle this task? Just take a look back at the worst snowstorms in Canadian history.

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Woman looking out window in winter
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Seal windows

Do-it-yourself: A thrifty treatment for thin glass windows is to line them with bubble wrap: mist your windows with water and push the bubbled side of the sheet against the pane. No glue needed—simply re-mist and reattach if the plastic loses adhesion.

Big fix: Adding storm windows to existing frames is one way to boost heat retention. Replacing them entirely with Energy Star-certified windows, double- or triple-glazed and filled with insulating argon or krypton gas, keeps them sealed year-round.

Check out 50 money saving tips you’ll wish you’d known sooner.

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Home heating bills Canada - door with draft snake
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Seal doors

Do-it-yourself: Prevent cold-air leaks with a draft snake: a plush doorstopper placed in entryways to stop drafts. If you’re crafty, make your own, but something as simple as a rolled-up towel will do.

Big fix: If your front door lets in more drafts than people, consider upgrading to an airtight model with double- or triple-glazed glass, an insulated core and good-quality weatherstripping (some newer frames include a magnetic strip that seals more tightly).

Now that you know how to save on home heating bills in Canada, check out 10 financial podcasts worth adding to your playlist.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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