As temperatures drop over the winter, there is one thing that keeps going up and up and up: heating costs.  Whether you use electric, oil, or gas to heat your home, staying warm over the winter means bills can increase. And with our hundred-plus year homes in Mount Rainier, much of that heat leaks out and goes to waste.

But there are small things each household can do to reduce that waste and save money. The easiest step is is to make sure you have a programmable thermostat.  A basic programmable thermostat allows you to set different temperatures for morning or daytime or evenings. This should save you 10% on your monthly bills and only costs about $50.  That means you’ll save more than the cost of the thermostat in just one winter.

Next up are retrofits. First off you should get an energy audit to learn what weatherization your home could benefit from.  We recommend finding an auditor that does not also retrofit so you get an independent opinion. After you get your audit you will know whether you need insulation, sealing, new windows, etc. and what kind of energy and financial savings you could expect.

Energy retrofits can be pricey up front but you will make the investment back from the savings in your energy bills in 5-10 years.  The upfront costs can be daunting especially if you have a tight budget, but that is all of the more reason to save on heating and there are resources to help.

The City of Mount Rainier participates in Maryland Energy Administration‘s EmPOWER Maryland program (url: through the Prince George’s County Municipal Collaboration. Mount Rainier residents may be eligible for home weatherization and retrofits FREE to them, based on the household income. For more information, contact Alison Miller at (301) 908-4079 or James Flynn at

Another potential resource is the BeSMART program from the Dept. of Housing and Community Development (phone: (301) 429-7402, web:, which provides loan and incentive programs to help homeowners make their homes more efficient.

There and many opportunities for assistance with energy efficiency to help both keep warm and save money this winter.