Senior Savings: Reduce Your Heating Bills This Winter

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As temperatures drop, many seniors suffer due to high home heating oil or gas prices. These expenses come at a time when seniors also want to enjoy the holidays, which might mean special means or gifts for family and friends. For those on a fixed income, just staying warm could become an incredible burden.

Here are six tips to reduce your heating bills this winter.

Look into Assistance Programs
Many states, through energy providers, offer assistance programs for low-income families and individuals. Often called Heating Assistance Programs (HEAP), Home Energy Assistance Programs (HEAP) or Weatherization programs, these programs promote energy conservation and energy efficiency by helping you pay for certain improvements that will reduce your heating bills. You may also be able to directly reduce your home heating costs through state assistance or get cash assistance paying heating bills. You can find out what’s available in your state by going to http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/browse-by-category/category/ENA. Some of these programs may even allow you to update your home heating system for free.

Insulate and Weatherproof
Qualifying for assistance to weatherproof your home can certainly ease financial burdens. But even if you don’t qualify for help, weatherproofing is the number one way to reduce home heating costs. You may not want to invest in new windows for your home (although, if you plan to sell soon, they might help you sell faster). But you can make inexpensive upgrades with weatherstripping. Talk to your energy provider about a free energy audit to determine which improvements will be most worthwhile and cost-effective in your situation. At a bare minimum, installing gasket sets behind electrical outlets and using a draft stopper at the bottom of doors are inexpensive changes you can make to help your home retain heat.

Waste No Heat
You’ll find a lot of heat available in your home that you can use to stay warm. On sunny winter days, open the blinds on south facing windows to take advantage of passive solar energy. (The cold air that may come in through the windows will be offset by the bright sunlight that heats the room.) When you’re done baking seasonal treats, crack the oven door to let the rest of the heat escape into the room. Consider using your oven more frequently than your stove top to enjoy the ambient heat while you cook, as well. (Baking is also healthier and easier than frying!)
If you have baseboard heating, turn off the baseboards and close the doors to rooms you don’t use so heat will stay in the parts of the house you’re using. However, don’t close vents or doors if you have a central heating system, as you could damage the system.

Turn Down the Heat
Keep the thermostat set at 60 if you’re not going to be home for the day and at night when you go to sleep. Adding a humidifier to your bedroom will help keep the room feeling warmer even at lower temperatures.

Have a Professional Tune Up Your Heating System
Call in a professional to make sure your furnace and heating system are operating at peak efficiency. If you have hot water or steam heat, your radiators might need to be bled for better performance.

Consider an Independent Senior Living Community
If you’re tired of home maintenance as well as high energy costs, it could be time to consider selling your home and enjoying the convenience of an independent senior living community or a Continuing Care Retirement Community.

You can put money into home improvements that someone else will enjoy years from now when you finally sell your home, or make an investment in a better future now. Seniors in independent communities enjoy the convenience of one monthly payment, a host of amenities they probably aren’t getting in their home town, and the knowledge that if something happens to them, they’re not alone.

Heating, cooling and other energy costs, as well as most other utilities, are all rolled into one monthly payment at home independent living senior communities. Enjoy the luxury of turning up the heat; your rate won’t go up just because you want to stay warm this winter.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 662-0435 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.