14 Tips for Lowering Your Winter Energy Bill
When Old Man Winter rears his frosty head, most homeowners know that it means a higher energy bill. Heating costs account for almost half of the average home’s energy costs. If you’re worried about the cost of your energy bill this winter, just consult our top tips for conserving heat and energy this winter.
1. Set Your Thermostat Lower
The easiest way to save some money on your energy bill is to simply lower the temperature in your home. But you don’t need to make your house a polar bear habitat—setting the thermostat just a few degrees cooler can result in significant long-term savings.
2. Stay Warm with Sweaters and Socks
Of course, you’ll still want to stay warm. Set your thermostat to the lowest temperature in which you still feel comfortable while wearing a comfy sweater, socks, and sweatpants.
3. Use Blankets to Stay Warm at Night
When everyone goes to bed, you can turn the temperature down another few degrees. You and your family will be toasty under thick blankets. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save 10% on your energy bill just by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day.
4. Close Vents and Doors of Unused Rooms
Many homeowners have a room or two that they barely spend any time in. Guest rooms, storage rooms, basements, guest rooms, or your kid’s room while they’re away at college are all prime examples. If you’re heating a room no one goes in, then you’re just wasting money and energy. Close the vents and doors of all unused rooms. When you do have guests or your college student is back for holiday break, you can simply open the vents again for their stay.
5. Seal Up Air Leaks
Is your house feeling a little drafty? Drafts are actually heat escaping from your home. Use caulk and weatherstripping to seal air leaks. Check the weather stripping and seals around all your windows and exterior doors if you suspect you’re losing heated air.
Winter air can also sneak into your house through electrical outlets, light fixtures, AC units, and gaps in your insulation. Be sure to check your attic and basement, as they often hide the worst air leaks. Apply new caulk to any broken seals and replace any damaged or missing weather stripping. You may need to install or replace insulation for larger gaps.
6. Use Free Energy From the Sun
The sun provides us with free, clean energy and you don’t even need solar panels to make use of it. Just open your curtains and blinds when the sun is out and allow that wonderful solar energy into your home.
7. Use Insulated Curtains to Trap Heat at Night
Once the sun goes down, you don’t want to let all that solar heat escape. Close your curtains and blinds at night to add a bit of insulation to your windows and prevent heat loss—before the sun starts setting. Insulated curtains will trap the most heat and are an excellent investment for maximum nighttime energy efficiency.
8. Put Temporary Insulation on Your Windows
Windows are less insulated than your walls, and even properly sealed windows can let precious heat slip away. Insulate your windows for winter by sealing the frame with clear plastic window film. WIth this, admittedly somewhat fussy, product you’re trapping a layer of air in between the interior of your home and the window. This buffer helps slow heat loss. Window film is cheap, easy to apply, and easy to remove in spring.
9. Close Your Fireplace When Not in Use
A lit fireplace is a great way to warm your home in winter, but it can allow cold air to sneak in when not in use. Keep your damper closed whenever you aren’t using your fireplace. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. Tell the kids not to worry—Santa will still find his way in. He’s magic.
10. Check the Temp on Your Water Heater
Most people set the thermostat on their water heater way too high, which is one reason why water heaters come right after your heating and air conditioning as the biggest users of energy in your home. Because water heaters are always on, 24/7, turning down the temperature by just a few degrees can save you a lot of money in the long run. Unless you’re in the habit of taking literally scalding-hot showers every day, you probably won’t even notice the difference in temperature.
11. Use Ceiling Fans to Circulate Heat
Don’t just leave your ceiling fans off in the winter. Ceiling fans usually rotate counterclockwise, pushing air down to keep you cool. However, most ceiling fans have a reverse switch. This creates an updraft, displacing the hot air that gathers at your ceiling and moving it down to where it can help warm chilly people.
12. Use Space Heaters to Heat Small Spaces
If you only need to heat a small area for a short time, then consider using a space heater. With no heat loss through air ducts or combustion, electric space heaters are a great way to heat a small enclosed area like your garage, tool shed, or that one extra chilly bathroom. They’re not very energy efficient for heating the whole house, but they’re perfect for shorter periods in closed-off spaces.
13. Use LED Lights for Your Holiday Display
Regardless of whether you just set up a few strings of tasteful white lights or go completely nuts with your Christmas decorations, LED lights will save you energy and money. LEDs use 75% less energy than standard incandescent lights and last 25 times longer. It might cost a little money up front to upgrade to LED Christmas lights, but the investment will pay off in the long run. LEDs are safer, more energy efficient, and so sturdy that you (or your grandchildren) will likely be using that very same string of lights to decorate for the holidays 40 years from now.
14. Make Use of Residual Oven Heat
Back in the 19th century, the family wood-burning stove was both a way to cook food and a means of warming the house. Today’s modern ovens are very good at cooking food but not very good at heating the home. However, if you just baked a tray of delicious Christmas cookies anyway, leave the oven door open a crack and let some of that heat into your home as the appliance cools.
15. Install a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat is a Wi-Fi enabled device that automatically adjusts temperature settings in your home for peak energy efficiency. These devices learn your habits and preferences and establish a schedule that automatically adjusts the temperature in your home for optimal energy efficiency. They even work when you’re asleep or away from home.
A smart thermostat can be a bit of an investment, but they give you significant long-term savings on your energy bill. Many homeowners can even offset those upfront costs right away. Some state and local governments incentivize smart thermostats with rebates, and responsible energy providers might offer exclusive discounts on the units.
Being Energy Smart in Winter Means Year-Round Savings
The funny thing about saving energy in winter is that many of these techniques will also help you save money in summer. It’s all about keeping outside air out, inside air in, and minimizing energy waste. Insulated curtains, air sealing, LED lighting, and smart thermostats should all be part of your year-round strategy for maximum energy efficiency and maximum savings. So be energy smart and save yourself a bundle all year long.
Is your electricity bill still shockingly high? It might be your energy plan—or lack thereof. If you’re on a month-to-month energy plan, the default plan when you’re agreement expires, you may want to upgrade to a plan with a fixed rate. A fixed-rate plan will lock you into one convenient low rate all year long. See what a new electricity plan can do for your budget.
Heating & Cooling. Energy.gov. https://www.energy.gov/heating-cooling
Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips. Energy.gov. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips
LED Lighting. Energy.gov. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/led-lighting