By Scott Whittemore 12/31/2018
Winter electricity prices are unpredictable, but your bill doesn’t have to be. Try some (or all) of these energy efficiency suggestions and see how to save energy (and money) this winter. Whether you use heating oil, natural gas, or electricity to heat your home, these tips will help you save money on your utility bills.
- Turn your heat down when you’re not home.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning your thermostat down 7-10 degrees for 8 hours per day can save you as much as 10% per year on heating costs. It’s also advised to keep your thermostat lower than 68 degrees during the day and even lower when you’re sleeping.
It’s not a bad idea to look into a programmable smart thermostat either, as you can set your home’s temperature while away if you forget to turn it down. Most allow you to set temperatures based on the time of day so you’re not heating an empty home.
- Switch to more efficient light bulbs.
If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, you may be wasting money. If you switch to LED or CFL lights, you will end up using around 75% less electricity for lighting. This can lead to a savings of $75 or more per year, even if you upgrade only five frequently-used lights!
- Insulate your windows and doors.
Holding the heat in is an incredibly important, yet often overlooked, factor in saving energy. It is a good idea to look into insulation options, particularly if you have an older home. This can be tape or caulk that goes around your doors and windows, or you can get an energy efficiency audit from a number of companies that will give you specialized advice on how best to insulate your home. While this has a relatively higher upfront cost, you’ll see significant savings by saving anywhere from 10% to 50% on heating (and cooling) bills!
- Turn your appliances off when not in use!
No, seriously. Turn your appliances off when you aren’t using them. Unused appliances that are still plugged in can be adding about 5% to 10% to your monthly electricity costs!
Also, when you eventually get rid of that old fridge, upgrade to a refrigerator with an Energy Star rating and get the most efficient model possible. See how much money you can save per year by switching to a newer, more efficient model here.
- Make sure that your chimney is properly cared for.
It’s very important to properly care for your fireplace to maximize home energy efficiency. The chimney can act as a giant vacuum that sucks the heat from your home if you aren’t careful. Make sure that the damper is kept closed when not in use and that the seal is as tight as possible on the flue damper in order to prevent the loss of heat.
- Keep your HVAC system clean.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating accounts for 45% of the average American family’s energy bills but 25% to 40% of the energy used for heating or cooling is wasted. Clean your HVAC system to improve its efficiency. Spending $100 on a tune-up can reduce your heating bill by up to 10%!
The Department of Energy has a great infographic with additional information about your heating system and how to make sure you are heating your home efficiently.
- Install a humidifier.
The same principle of de-humidifying your home in the summer to be more comfortable works in the winter, too! Adding moisture to the air in your home keeps you comfortable at lower temperatures, and also may have some positive health benefits for your skin and respiratory system. A little bit of humidity allows you to turn your heat down and use less energy!
Don’t forget that for every unit of energy that you DON’T use you not only save money, but you do your part to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions. Sounds like a win-win to us!