How to Lower Your Energy Bills in the Winter
As cold temperatures hit, many homeowners brace for the inevitable increase in their energy bills. Here are simple ways to keep your bills down and manageable.
Program the Thermostat and Forget About It
The simplest way to lower heating or energy bills this winter is by backing down the thermostat. In fact, it’s estimated that you can save 10 percent per year on heating and cooling just by lowering the thermostat between 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours every day. The good news is that doing so doesn’t have to be uncomfortable for you and your family — just make those 8 hours when you’re sleeping or at work and you’ll hardly notice. In addition, a programmable thermostat makes the process even easier, so you may want to consider investing in one.
Examine Your Home’s Insulation
When your home is insulated properly, it will help maintain a comfortable indoor temperature year-round, not just in the winter. Without adequate insulation, the conditioned air from inside your home can escape, which makes your HVAC system work harder and results in higher energy usage and costs.
If you have to choose one place to shore up insulation, make it your attic. Proper attic insulation in the winter can prevent warm indoor air from rising and leaving your home.
Replace Old Windows
Most homeowners generally know that new replacement windows will save energy and increase comfort within their household. But how much? The actual numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnergyStar program show that the average home in the U.S. can save between $126 and $465 per year when they replace single-pane windows with EnergyStar-qualified replacements, and between $27 and $111 per year for double-panes. Keep in mind, these numbers are specifically for upgrading windows, rather than new construction.
Add Rugs to Your Decor
This may sound like something that goes without saying, but incorporating rugs into your home’s decor is a very simple way to keep heat in your home. Not only will they serve to insulate floors, they’re a great way to inject a bit of your own personal style as well.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fan
A well-kept secret when it comes to keeping energy bills low is switching your ceiling fans in your home from counterclockwise to clockwise. Set them at a low speed and they will actually push the warm air downward and help circulate it throughout the room.
Upgrade Light Bulbs
Traditional light bulbs are energy guzzlers, consuming large amounts of electricity. Consider replacing them as soon as possible, especially during winter months when the sun sets earlier and you depend on your lights more. The types of recommended lights to replace traditional bulbs include halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescents, and light-emitting diode bulbs. These types use 25-80 percent less energy than traditional bulbs and last up to 25 times longer.
Insulate Electrical Outlets
A large source of air leaks that often go unnoticed are electrical outlets and switches. This is especially problematic nowadays when 2 to 3 outlets in each room is standard. Fortunately, insulating outlets is a very easy fix. All you need to do is stop by the hardware store and purchase some pre-made foam gaskets. When applied to your outlets, these will block a large portion of the air leaks. As a final step, consider inserting removable child safety plugs into less used outlets to further block any leaks.