15 Ways to Cut Down on Your Home Electric Bill in Winter
The colder months often bring higher energy bills for homeowners. If you live in the north with harsh winters, heating your home may be more expensive than cooling it in the summer. What’s more, many people are at home more during the winter months, which can drive up energy use. Add shorter days and long, dark nights, along with a string of holidays, and it’s easy to see how you could use more energy than other times of year.
It’s important to save electricity in winter to lower your electric bills, not to mention reduce your carbon footprint. Luckily, there are several ways to conserve energy when the temperature drops, including the 15 suggestions below.
1. Weatherstrip your doors and windows
If you’re wondering how to cut down on your electric bill in winter, sealing out drafts is a good place to start. Your doors and windows can leak out more heat than you might imagine, but you can put a stop to it by installing weatherstripping around them. Plus, door sweeps help seal the space between the bottom of your door and the door frame. And even draft stoppers can give you some measure of protection from the cold.
2. Switch to a smart thermostat
A smart thermostat is a high-tech way to save electricity in the winter. Programmable thermostat savings come from the ability to fine-tune and optimize when your furnace runs. You can program the thermostat to turn down while you’re sleeping or when you’re away and then set it warmer for just before your arrival back home at the end of the day. You can reduce your electric bill in winter without sacrificing comfort.
3. Close the damper when not using the fireplace
Relaxing in front of a warm fireplace can be a wonderful end to a cold day, but heat could later escape up the chimney if you forget to close the damper. You can also save electricity in winter by installing a more efficient fireplace and switching from wood burning to gas. Installing a glass screen will make your fireplace more energy efficient as well. It radiates the heat from the fire but prevents warm air from being pulled in and vented out the chimney.
4. Give your heating system a yearly checkup
Schedule an annual heating system check-up early each winter to ensure that your system is clean and ready to run efficiently. A check-up can find problems early and save you the inconvenience, discomfort, and expense of a breakdown during a cold snap. Regular check-ups will increase the lifespan of your system and lower your electric bills during winter, because a smooth-running furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your home warm.
5. Don’t block your air vents
If furniture or drapes are blocking your heating vents, you’re making your furnace work harder than it should. Blocked vents increase air pressure in your ductwork, which can create cracks and leaks. Clearing your vents ensures that every room in your home is getting good circulation and that your system is working as designed. If a piece of furniture is sitting over a vent, try using an inexpensive vent extender to direct air out into the room.
6. Check the insulation in your house
Good insulation can be an inexpensive way to reduce your electric bill in winter. Adding insulation in your attic is a great place to start since it can keep more heat in your living areas. Another area where heat often escapes is through your walls, especially around electrical outlets and anywhere utilities enter your home. Pay extra attention around plumbing, both to prevent heat from escaping and to protect pipes from potentially freezing.
7. Adjust your water heater’s temperature
Your hot water heater might be wasting more energy than you realize, especially if it’s an older model. Today’s energy efficient water heaters can pay for themselves quickly with the energy they save. For most people, keeping the temperature set at 120 degrees provides plenty of hot water. To save even more, consider adding a hot water heater blanket, which is a layer of insulation that wraps around the hot water tank. It helps keep more heat in and the heating element doesn’t have to run as often.
8. Only wash/dry full loads of laundry
One of the most simple laundry energy saving tips is to always run full loads whenever possible. Running small, partial loads of laundry takes as much energy as running a full load. You’ll end up using more power and water with multiple loads. A better approach is to run your machine only when you have a full load. You’ll run your washer and dryer a lot less and cut down on your hot water usage. This can add up to savings.
9. Insulate your pipes
The pipes that deliver hot water to faucets, showers, and appliances around your home can bleed energy. Depending on how far the water has to travel, you could be losing a lot of heat. Adding insulation to hot water pipes can raise the temperature of the water by 2°F–4°F. Besides delivering hotter water, insulated pipes mean you don’t have to run the water as long, waiting for hot water for a shower.
10. Turn your holiday lights off with a timer
Keeping your holiday lights on all night is a waste of energy, but you may not always remember to turn them off or want to go out in the cold to switch them off. If you set up your holiday lights using smart plugs, you can program them to turn on and off without having to think about it and eliminate a source of energy waste during the winter holidays.
11. Unplug unused electronics
Many electronics and appliances draw energy even when they’re set to the “off” position. These energy vampires draw power when you don’t expect it. Prime culprits are devices that operate with a remote control because they basically live in a standby mode. Other common energy vampires include desktop computers and displays, printers, televisions, microwaves, and video game consoles. You can save energy by unplugging these devices when you aren’t using them.
12. Use LED light bulbs instead of CFL or incandescent
Switching to LED light bulbs will save electricity in winter. Light-emitting diodes are among the most energy-efficient light sources available, since they use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer. Think of how many light bulbs you have in your home and you can see how your savings can multiply. That’s one of the biggest LED light benefits.
13. Bundle up and get cozy
Another way to keep energy costs down in winter is by turning down the thermostat. Experts recommend lowering your thermostat a few degrees during the day and then lowering it even more at night. You can save as much as 10% off your heating bill by turning your thermostat down 7°-10°F for just 8 hours a day. If you feel chilly, wear a sweater instead of cranking up the heat.
14. Place rugs on hard floors
Rugs can be more than what ties a room together. They’re a layer of insulation that separates your feet from chilly hard floors. Area rugs, especially with a rug pad underneath, are a decorative way of warming up a room. Rugs can also work as wall hangings to add even more insulation to a room.
15. Let the sun in during the day and close the drapes at night
Sunshine coming through your windows can help heat up a room. Opening and closing drapes strategically can help you save on your energy bill this winter. Open drapes when the sun is shining in, then close them when it gets dark. Be sure to close drapes and shades across all of your windows at night to prevent drafts and slow heat loss through the glass.
When you save electricity in winter, you do the environment a favor while also lowering your electric bill. If you live in a northern state with harsh winters, investing in ways to save can drive down energy use. Yet even in warmer areas, cold snaps can happen. These tips will help keep you comfortable and your energy bills down no matter where you live.