CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - Oct 22, 2013) - With the possibility of the season's first snowflakes falling in the region as early as today, Midwesterners will be looking for ways to keep warm without turning the heat up on their energy bill.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration is projecting average U.S. household expenditures for natural gas to increase by 13 per cent and for propane by 9 per cent between October 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, compared to the same period last year.
"For many homeowners, the costs for utilities can come as a surprise," said Joseph Tunk, Director of U.S. Mortgages, Illinois, BMO Harris Bank. "The key is to create a monthly budget that factors in these expenses, and look for as many opportunities as possible to cut down on the costs."
The U.S. Department of Education recommends that you budget 2 to 10 per cent of your monthly net income to pay for utilities, which include heating and cooling systems.
With that in mind, BMO Harris Bank offers the following tips for staying within your budget:
1. Invest in a programmable thermostat: One of the most effective ways to keep heating costs down is to limit the time the furnace is running. Program your thermostat to keep your home comfortable when you are there and to lower usage when you are away or asleep.
2. Winterize your windows: This will prevent colder air from coming into the house through the windows, which can particularly be an issue in older homes. Considering keeping curtains and drapes open during daylight hours to allow sunshine in, naturally heating your house.
3. Insulate properly: Windows will only keep in so much heat, so it's important to ensure there is proper insulation in the rest of the house too to keep warm air in and cold air out. This includes sealing any leaks in the basement and attic. This will reduce the amount of work your furnace has to do and can cut utility costs and emissions by almost 10 per cent.
4. Use other sources: Appliances, such as the dishwasher, laundry machine/dryer and the stove/oven generate a noticeable amount of heat. When they are in use, think about turning down the thermostat.
5. Open up space: Furniture or drapes may be partially blocking heating registers and vents, so you may need to rearrange your rooms to ensure heat is circulating properly.
6. Check your furnace: Have your furnace and ducts serviced every spring to ensure that it is working efficiently. Old furnaces -- or those that work poorly -- have to work harder which can lead to higher heating costs.
To learn more about how to better manage spending and savings goals, please visit www.bmoharris.com/helpfulsteps
BMO and the Environment:
BMO Financial Group achieved enterprise-wide carbon neutrality relative to its energy consumption and transportation emissions in August 2010 by targeting emissions reductions, purchasing renewable energy and using carbon credits to offset the remainder.
BMO Harris Bank is committed to the principals of sustainable development and environmental stewardship. Our goal is to be one of the leading financial institutions in the area of Environmental Sustainability, specifically in the area of understanding and addressing the environmental impacts of our own operational footprint.
BMO Financial Group's overarching ECO5 Strategy is focused in the areas of:
- Energy Reduction and Efficiency
- Sustainable Transportation
- Sustainable Materials
- Waste Management
- Sustainable Procurement