The Big Chill: Fight the Cold and High Energy Bills
The winter months bring with them family holidays, football on TV and an annual visit from Saint Nick.
But it can also bring along higher energy costs that come with warding off the colder temperatures and shifting from daylight saving to standard time in most states.
The switch from daylight saving time means shorter days for the most part, meaning lights burn longer and the days get cooler as darkness falls earlier, keeping the electric meter running.
Decorating for the holidays with lights and with inflatables that require electric air pumps can also raise electric bills during wintertime.
Here are some tips to keep your winter energy bills lower:
- Adjust your thermostat — Set your thermostat as low as comfortable when you’re in the home. When you’re away or sleeping, turn it back 10-15 degrees to save energy. A smart programmable thermostat can make adjustments easy to do. If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat expressly for heat pumps.
- Dress for the weather — Turn down the thermostat a couple of notches and break out the comfy sweatshirt or sweater and wool socks when you’re at home.
- Cover drafty windows — Attach a heavy-duty clear plastic sheet or clear plastic film to the inside of your window. Sealing the plastic tightly to the frame can help reduce air flow from the outside. Tight-fitting insulated drapes and other window treatments can also help.
- Seal any leaks — Air leaks around pipes and other utility cut-throughs and from gaps around chimneys need to be sealed off. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, make sure the flue damper is closed when the chimney is not in use. Make sure to check the attic and basement for any leaks.
- Service your system — Make sure to have your heating system serviced before use each winter. Remember to change your air filter every month to reduce strain on the system, which increases energy usage.
- Upgrade holiday lights — Energy-efficient light bulbs cut energy costs year round. During the holidays, LED light strings make for bright and lovely decorations while also cutting energy costs. Look for ENERGY STAR© certified decorative light strings for your home and Christmas tree.
- Don’t forget the water — Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 degrees). You might also consider a tankless water heater, which will save money in the long run.
- Use your ceiling fans — When rotating counterclockwise, ceiling fans push air down to cool a room. But most ceiling fans have a reverse switch, so you can make the blades rotate clockwise for winter. Use a low speed to gently pull cool air up and move the warmer air near the ceiling down into the room.
- Sunlight — Though the days are shorter during wintertime, natural heat from the sun during the day can warm your home significantly. Open your curtains on south-facing windows during the day and close them at night to keep in the heat.