Winter is here and most of us have turned our furnaces on to begin heating our homes. It is also the time to have a technician come in and check your home’s furnace to make sure that it is ready for the next season. Cleaning, a tune up perhaps and any parts that might need replacement will be on the menu for these checkups. While you are at it have your gas fireplace looked at and also your hot water heater. These all use energy and if they are working properly they will reduce your monthly heating costs and also operate safely keeping you and your family safe for the coming heating season.
This was a question that the writer recently had to face as part of my annual furnace check up. I called a technician who is in the business of doing annual checkups and cleaning. His proposed fee was $80 to come in, inspect the furnace, clean it and prepare an estimate of costs for any repairs if any are needed. I would have to pay labor and parts for any repairs that he identified. Sears, coincidentally sent us an insurance proposal that had a fee of $230 coverage for 16 months. This fee includes check up and cleaning fees, plus any repairs including parts and labor for our furnace. Our furnace is about 11 years old at this point and we originally purchased it from Sears. We decided to pay the extra fees just in case there are parts to be replaced. Normally we do not suggest that consumers buy insurance of this kind, however the costs are too high if parts are needed. We would rather pay a little extra to have peace of mind and to potentially save some money.
The cost of oil has gone way up in the past couple of years and the cost of natural gas has not gone up as much, however depending on demand you can be sure that your heating bill is going to be higher than it was last year. Anything you can do to reduce the cost of keeping your home winter this winter will be money in your pocket instead of the oil or gas companies. Here are a few things that home owners may want to consider, if they haven’t already:
This is a great starter list of ways to reduce your heating cost this coming winter. Depending on your home and lifestyle there may be other ways to reduce your energy cost. Take a look at the way you live and how you use energy and make adjustments to reduce your cost of heating even further. Let us know so we can add them to our list for other readers.
If you decide to turn the heat off in some rooms, a word of caution is in order. If that room has water pipes in the walls or feeding that room, consumers should be careful to avoid the pipes freezing in cold weather. A room with no heat could possibly go below freezing and freeze the water in the pipes causing them to burst the pipes and cause a serious water leak.
A final word regarding purchasing insurance coverage for your furnace. It is really all about the amount of risk that you want to take and whether you can afford the bill if and when it needs to be repaired. The return on investment is really peace of mind and not how much money you are going to save. Do the math and make a decision about whether you can afford the risk vs. paying for insurance. Saving money on insurance could help pay for a new furnace if you avoid paying insurance for a long enough period.