Q&A: Taming winter heating costs

November 21, 2008

I've read a lot about how home heating costs will be much higher this winter than in past years. Is there anything I can do before winter sets in to keep costs down?

Q: I've read a lot about how home heating costs will be much higher this winter than in past years. Is there anything I can do before winter sets in to keep costs down?

A: Natural gas and heating oil costs are expected to surge from 18 to 23 percent over last year's prices, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. While electricity isn't expected to rise as rapidly, it will still be more expensive than last year. The best approach is to start preparing your home now. If you don't have one, get a programmable thermostat, which will allow you to use less heat at times when you don't need it-when you're at work or while you're sleeping, for example. (They are also valuable for your practice.) Also, look for areas in your home where heat is escaping, such as windows, doors, and fireplaces. You should use caulk, weather stripping, and plastic to seal up any gaps. Other options to think about include buying new insulation, washing clothes in cold water, cutting down on shower times, and opening the blinds to let the sun in.