Associated Press just announced today that the US Energy Information Center is warning homeowners that heating costs for this upcoming winter (2021-2022) could jump as high as 54% more than last year. Homes heated with natural gas (approx. 50% of US households) will see 30% price gains, while those heating with electricity will see only a 6% gain. Homes heated by heating oil (4% of households) and propane (5% of households) will see greater than 43% increases.
The midwestern U.S. will see the largest price increases of around 50%, matching the very energy supply-tight winter of 2008-2009. Commodity prices are to blame, with the price of heating oil having doubled and natural gas up 90%, just in the last year.
Fort Collins and the rest of northern Colorado typically sees 300 days of sunshine per year, and winter is no exception. However, with winter temperatures forecasted to be a bit chillier than average, those of us in Colorado can still take some precautions. Here are a few...
Winterizing Your Home
Check for leaks:
Replace worn weather stripping and caulk.
If windows leak, consider replacing them with energy efficient models. If replacement is out of the question, install inexpensive window plastic for relief from wind and cold.
Inexpensive plastic, metal, or wooden draft stoppers can be screwed or glued to the bottoms of doors. Consider replacing old doors, or if you can afford it, hire a contractor to perform a blower door test on your home to locate air leaks.
Purchase and install foam gaskets behind the electric wall switch plates to prevent leaks. Close the damper on your fireplace when not in use. This also keeps small critters from flying or crawling around inside your chimney.
Close crawlspace vents during the summer and winter and leave open in spring and fall.
Check your heating and air conditioning systems:
Remember, it's more cost effective to maintain than it is to repair. Professional service should include cleaning, checking, and lubricating the system.
Replace your heater's air filter monthly so the system will work more efficiently. Ensure that the thermostat and pilot lights work properly, and check ducts for leaks.
Consider updating your heating system to a modern one with an efficiency rating over 97%.
Use your setback thermostat. A setback thermostat turns the heat or the a/c down when you are away or sleeping, then puts the temperature at a more comfortable level when you are home during the day.
In winter, set your ceiling fans so they blow upward to circulate heat without chilling you with a breeze. Remember, ceiling fans circulate clockwise in winter, and counterclockwise in summer, for max effect.
Insulate your attic. In an older home, this is the most efficient way to reduce home heating costs. Make sure your home is insulated at all levels-floor, wall, and ceiling.
After having an energy audit conducted on our house, one of the biggest recommendations was to insulated above our whole house fan. Even though the attic was insulated, we were told that heat escapes right up through the metal louvre doors. By building a crude plywood box around the whole house fan in the attic, I am now able to drape batts of insulation over the box in the fall, and then remove them in the spring.
Trim trees and dead branches to prevent weather-related winter accidents.
Clean your gutters. Fallen leaves in rain gutters block water flow from rain and melting snow.
Check the chimney. Install a screen to prevent falling leaves from blocking the chimney.
Keep snow and ice from accumulating around your garage door.
Learn from the Japanese:
While living in Japan, every family we knew would close doors to bedrooms during the day. Heating only a portion of the house cuts our heating bill dramatically.
James Sack, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
1109 Oak Park Drive | Fort Collins, CO 80525
C: (970) 217-9705 | O: (970) 223-6500 | E: James.Sack@coloradohomes.com | W: www.JamesSack.com