Stop Wasting Energy, Start Lowering Your Winter Bills

Posted by Safeco February 9, 2015

Save on Winter Energy Costs

Lower your winter energy bills.

Cold weather and short days mean high energy bills for most of us. But, even as you turn up the heat and turn on more lights, you can still find ways to lower your bills while keeping your home cozy.

To lower your winter energy bills, it helps to know where you use energy the most.

According to EnergyStar.gov, the typical home spends 29 percent of its yearly energy costs on heating, 14 percent on heating water, 13 percent on appliance usage, 12 percent on lighting and the remainder on such things as cooling and electronics.

With the following tips, you can help to lower your energy use – and costs – in each of these four key areas this winter:

Heating

Nearly a third of the average energy bill goes to heating. So make sure your warm air is circulating from room to room and isn’t escaping the house.

  • Keep your systems maintained. It’s a good idea to give your HVAC equipment a yearly tune-up to keep it running efficiently. You should also check your air filter every month and change it when it looks dirty — at a minimum every 3 months. Dirty filters slow down air flow.
     
  • Install a programmable thermostat. According to Energy Star, programming your settings to use less energy at specific times (while you’re at work, for example) can save you nearly $200 a year.
     
  • Check for drafts. Does it always feel cold by the back door? Find out where cold air is getting in and take steps to seal those areas. Check your ducts, too. Sealing leaks there can improve heating and cooling efficiency.

Water Heater

We know you need hot showers. And you also need to do laundry and wash the dishes. But heating all that water takes a lot of energy.

  • Lower your water heater thermostat. Setting this to 120 degrees (F) or below will reduce heat loss into the surrounding area and likely lower energy consumption as well.
     
  • Insulate. Improve the performance of older water heaters with an insulating jacket. You also can insulate water pipes to help keep water warm as it flows to the tap.

Appliances

First things first, appliances with the Energy Star label can help you save on your utility bills. But using any appliance efficiently may help to curb your energy spending.

  • Wash clothes in cold water. Heating water accounts for most of the energy used when washing clothes. Also make sure to always clean the lint trap in your dryer, and never over-dry your clothes.
     
  • Run the dishwasher only when full. Don’t pre-rinse, if possible, to cut down on water use, and don’t press that power button unless you have a full load.
     
  • Match up your stove burner and pot. Using a burner that’s too big wastes more energy than you realize.

Lighting

When the days are short, you’re naturally going to spend more on lighting. The trick to saving on your energy bills is using the right bulbs.

  • Use CFLs when possible. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are great for high-use fixtures, such as porch or kitchen lights.
     
  • Choose LEDs for decorative lights. They use less energy than standard bulbs.

There are plenty of things you can do to lower your energy bills so you’re not sending a big check to the power company every month. Find the ways that work for you and watch the savings add up.

 

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