10 Ways to Save on Winter Utility Bills

by CashTime Loan Centers

We all want to stay warm and cozy during the winter, but for many of us our energy bills tend to skyrocket during the colder months. Here are some short-term and long-term changes you can make to reduce your energy consumption and save money on your winter utility bills.

• Lower your thermostat. This is one of the easiest short-term solutions for reducing your electric bill during the winter. If you have a programmable one, set it to 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower during the overnight hours, warming up a couple of degrees in the hour just prior to waking, then lowering the temperature again for the hours you’ll be away from home. In the evenings, don a sweater or grab a fleece throw for an added layer of warmth if needed. Doing the opposite during the summer time works just as well to increase your home’s energy efficiency. Lowering the thermostat on your water heater by just a few degrees will also result in energy savings. Hint: if your thermostat has zones rather than digits, set it for halfway between “low medium” and “warm normal.”

• Adjust the water temperature. Did you know that cooler showers are actually better for your skin than steaming hot ones? Hot water tends to dry out already dry, moisture-deprived skin in the winter. Instead of cranking up the heat on your next shower, try dialing it back. Not only will you use less water and less gas or electricity to heat it, your showers will probably be shorter and more efficient, and your skin will thank you. Adding a low-flow showerhead can increase your savings even more, since these appliances need less heat to warm the water. Applying moisturizing oils or lotions to your body while your skin is still damp will help seal in moisture and keep your skin soft during the drying days of winter.

• Upgrade your appliances. Getting rid of your old kitchen appliances is a great long-term way to help reduce energy bills, since they account for up to 20% of your bill. Choose Energy Star-rated refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines for the best savings. These refrigerators use 50% less energy than their older counterparts, while Energy Star-rated washing machines use 40% less than those that do not have this efficiency rating.

• Fill it up. The dishwasher, that is. Research shows dishwashers are much more energy efficient and water efficient when they are full. So, load it up and get the most out of both your water usage and electricity consumption all year long.

• Cover up drafty windows. Use insulated window coverings to help block cold drafts from coming inside. A simple DIY solution if to use clear plastic sheeting over your windows. Do the same to any glass doors you don’t use during winter, like that set of double French doors that lead to the pool you won’t be swimming in until next summer. Once the weather warms up, this short-term solution is easily undone by simply removing the plastic and/or covers until next winter.

• Seal the cracks. Before covering your windows and doors with plastic or insulated covers, check for cracks that can be sealed with either caulk or weather stripping to help stop cold air in its tracks. Add door sweeps to the bottom of exterior doors to keep cold air from entering over the threshold. This is a long-term solution that will pay you back in the summer time as well by keeping the hot air out and the cool air in.

• Take advantage of oven heat after baking. You know all that holiday baking you love to do? Take advantage of the leftover heat when the cookies, pies, cakes, and casseroles are all done and leave the oven door open until it’s cool. As a bonus, this short-term hack will also spread the tantalizing aroma of your home-cooked goodies throughout the house.

• Unplug unused appliances. This is a money saver you can practice all year long, and you should. Believe it or not, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that idle gadgets cost consumers $10 billion dollars a year, so take that blow dryer, toaster, video game console and stereo, and unplug them (along with those Christmas tree lights!) when you’re not using them. Make it even easier on yourself by plugging several appliances into one power strip that can be turned off with the simple flip of a switch.

• Insulate your attic door. Your attic may be insulated (if not, start there!) but what about the door? Adding a layer of insulation to the inside of your attic door can prevent the air you’re heating for your living space from rising into the attic, where it’s probably not needed. By comparison, this long-term problem solver will help keep the warmer air that naturally rises to the attic during the summer months from working against your air conditioner’s efforts to keep the house cool.

• Close the fireplace flue. If you’re not using your fireplace, closing the damper can help keep warm air in and cold downdrafts out. When the damper is open, you can end up sending your heated air right up the chimney. The flue should always remain closed during the summer months, as birds and other critters may become stuck while exploring your chimney. Always have your fireplace and chimney inspected in the fall annually, to ensure no hazardous buildup has occurred, and no pests have invaded your space.

• Don’t forget to change the filters in your HVAC system and clean the lint trap in your clothes dryer between uses. These little things will help keep your systems running cleaner and reduce the amount of airborne irritants that can cause dry winter eyes and coughs. Utilizing one or more of these money saving tips will help you stay cozy this winter and warm your heart with the energy savings you’ll see on your utility bills.