8 Ways to Shave Energy Bills This Winter

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Winter is unofficially underway, and it’s time to prepare for the many frigid months ahead. Solidifying your home inside and out will save you money on expensive energy bills, and keep you—and your pipes—protected from freezing temperatures. Here are some tips to ensure that your home retains heat this winter:

1. Turn down the thermostat

Put on a sweater and keep your thermostat at around 60 to 70 degrees during the day. According to statistics, you’ll save about 5 percent on heating costs for every degree you turn it down. When you’re about to go to sleep, set the thermostat to about 50 to 55 degrees, which will save anywhere from 10 to 20 percent on your heating bill. If you own a heat pump, set it back only two degrees fewer at night to prevent the backup strip heating from turning on.

2. Reserve your hot water use

Consider replacing your shower head with a low-flow model. Low-flow shower heads can generate the same amount of pressure as higher-flow models without using as much hot water. Decreasing the length of your showers by five to 10 minutes can also save hundreds of gallons of hot water per year—especially for family households. In fact, showers account for almost two-thirds of the average home’s heating costs. Cutting your shower time in half could significantly reduce your bill.

3. Clean and check your furnace

Cleaning your furnace’s air filter once every two months may increase its efficiency by nearly 50 percent. Dirty or clogged filters limit airflow, which increases the amount of energy expended by the furnace. Fall or early winter is a good time to have general furnace maintenance performed by a professional. Having your furnace adjusted, lubricated, and surveyed for any problems cuts down its energy use, which could save you almost 5 percent per month on your heating bill, and those savings accumulate significantly over the winter.

4. Weatherproof any cracks and holes

When your heater kicks on frequently throughout the day, your heating bill may increase a lot as a result. This often occurs because drafts and holes in your home allow the hot air to leak out, requiring more heat to keep it warm. To combat this issue, weatherproof your home in the early months of winter before the temperatures significantly drop. Also, install weather-stripping around your doors and windows or replace it if it’s worn, and fill gaps and cracks in the walls so hot air cannot escape.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

5. Deal with any draining electronics

Electronics that remain plugged in on a regular basis—such as your TV and computer—can suck up energy even, when they’re not in use. To counter this issue, attach outlets to power switches, which are great for your appliances. You can also purchase adapters with built-in timers for wall heaters and any gadgets you forget to switch off when you walk out the door. You should always unplug any electronics when they’re not in use, but these are good backup plans.

6. Switch your ceiling fan

Ceiling fans are built with a switch above the blade area that allows you to change its rotation between summer and winter. When you switch it over to winter mode, the blades’ movement will go in reverse, which forces the warm air trapped in the ceiling to push back down and move the cool air up. Just remember to flip the switch again when temperatures start to rise in the spring.

7. Optimize your curtains

Curtains are great for both upping the heat in your home and keeping it in at night. During the day, let in the sunlight; at night, close the curtains up tight around your windows to counter small leaks. Keeping your curtains closed could make a significant dent in your energy bill. Windows aren’t great sources of insulation, so curtains add an extra layer of protection. If you feel air is still escaping, you can also invest in thermal curtains.

8. Call professionals for any crucial maintenance

While there are a lot of tasks you can perform around the house yourself, some crucial maintenance tasks are best left to the professionals. For example, there might be leaks, cracks or other problems building up on your roof that a professional could fix in the nick of time. What about the insulation in your attic—when is the last time someone checked it for pests or gaping holes? Even having a home inspector come by to look for any areas of significant energy loss could help your house endure the winter five to 10 times better than it has in the past.

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