As winter settles in, you may have rising energy bills on your mind. After the brief lull of fall, those bills begin to increase as the cold weather becomes more intense. But you’re not powerless to rein in your winter utility bills. Here are seven ways to save on your home bills this season.
1. Lower Your Thermostat
Heating your home will be your biggest expense all season. The easiest way to lower your bill is to lower your thermostat across the board, say from 72° down to 68°. But since we all have different temperature tolerances, that strategy may not work for you.
Alternatively, you could lower your thermostat at times when you are either not at home or are in bed at night. If everyone in the household is out at either work or school during the day, you can lower your thermostat considerably. 65° would be more than adequate, and you would be safe going as low as 60°. There’s no point in heating a house where no one is at home to benefit from the warmth.
The situation is similar at night. If you wear heavier sleepwear, and put on an extra blanket or two on your bed, you can easily get away with a lower thermostat setting.
2. Change Your Furnace Filters
This is one of those obvious tactics that’s also very easy to forget. Since we normally only change out furnace filters a few times a year, it can be easy to overlook, particularly in the early days of winter. But this is important. A clogged furnace filter will cause your furnace to work harder in circulating air. That will mean that the furnace will be on longer in order to get the temperature of the house up. By cleaning the filter, you enable your furnace to “breathe,” and therefore to function more efficiently, and in a more cost-effective manner.
3. Optimize Your Ceiling Fans
Many people make use of their ceiling fans during the summer months, but forget them during the winter. Your ceiling fans can help you circulate the rising warm air so it’s evenly distributed in the room.
To do this, set your ceiling fans on a low speed and blowing upwards in a clockwise direction. They will push warm air down from the ceiling and distribute it throughout the room to create a more even temperature. Since the fan is gently blowing warm air, you don’t have to be concerned that it will cause a draft. The more efficient distribution of warm air will make it possible to keep the thermostat at a lower setting.
4. Lower Your Water Heater Setting
A lot of people like “piping” hot water when they take a bath or shower. When it’s too hot, they counterbalance it by increasing the cold water contribution. But you can save money on heating water, and on the amount of water itself, by lowering the temperature on your hot water heater.
Controlling the energy use connected with your hot water heater is important. According to Energy.gov, heating hot water accounts for 17% of total home energy usage. That means that your hot water heater is a rich source of energy savings. If your hot water heater is set at something like 140°, you can do just as well by lowering the setting to 120°. This will lower the cost of running the hot water heater, as well as lower the amount of water that you will need to shower or bathe (less need for offsetting cold water).
5. Get an Annual Energy Tune-Up
Finally, keep in mind that all energy-using appliances and equipment are machines, and all machines need to be serviced and repaired periodically. You get regular tune-ups for your car, and you should do the same with your furnace, hot water heater, and stove.
Part of the reason for doing tune-ups is preventative maintenance; it’s all about making sure that the appliance lasts longer. The tune-ups also help the equipment to run more efficiently, and that can save you money on energy. You should plan to have your furnace and your hot water heater serviced at least annually. But you should also do the same with your air conditioner and perhaps less frequently with your stove.
When all of the machines in your house are running at peak efficiency, you’re using less energy. You won’t save a ton of money as a result of the tuneup on any single piece of equipment, but it can really add up when you do it with several pieces on a regular basis.
Check out how energy efficient home improvements can also help you save on your home bills and taxes this season.