The U.S. government has warned that surging prices for heating oil and natural gas means households could see heating bills jump as much as 54% compared with last winter. Here are some ways to minimize the pain.

Around half the homes in the U.S. use natural gas for heat. Homes that use heating oil and propane for heat will also see sharp increases.

Households that use electricity for heat, the second most common heating source for U.S. homes, will only see a modest increase in price.

Natural gas prices have increased as economies have recovered from the pandemic and demand for fuel has risen. There’s also less gas available on the market.

Here are some ways to get your home ready for winter and to conserve heat.

Check your crawl space

Look for loose or missing insulation and check that all seams are lapped and sealed with tape. Insulate and add a seal to the crawl space door.

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Grab some caulk

Checking for gaps around windows, pipes, exterior electrical outlets and other places where cold air might enter can help keep precious heat inside. Clear or paintable white acrylic latex caulk can close open spaces that would otherwise let in cold air.

Check your outdoor sprinkler and water systems

Remove outdoor hoses and install freeze-proof faucet covers to prevent burst pipes. Consider hiring someone to drain your sprinkler system or renting a compressor.

Check your gutters and downspouts

Clear out any leaves or debris that might be blocking your gutter and downspout. Seal any leaking areas with gutter sealant. Runoff from rainwater should drain at least 6 feet away from your foundation. Otherwise, pools of water can seep into your crawl space or basement. 

Look at your thermostat

An inaccurate thermostat can result in wasted energy, as can forgetting to lower the temperature at night. Programmable and digital thermostats often allow schedule setting for different times of the day.

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