When temperatures drop outside, the home heating bill can jump up quickly. To be better prepared for the changing seasons and get your house ready for winter, several steps can help lower heating costs and make your residence more energy-efficient.
In colder climates, many people spend more time indoors during the winter and may use more electricity, keep their heat setting higher, and use more hot water. All of these factors can lead to a higher electric bill. Even gas heating systems use electricity to move warm air throughout the house. Some energy usage may mostly stay the same in the winter, but it still requires more electricity to heat a home when the outside temperatures are lower. Sometimes, having an older heating system or water heater, poor insulation, and leaky windows can contribute to higher bills. What uses the most electricity in the winter? Home heating and cooling systems, appliances, and electronics all use electricity, with some using more energy than others. In the winter, HVAC systems typically use the most power, followed by water heaters, home appliances like a refrigerator, washer and dryer, electric stove, and home lighting.
Lowering your energy use can be beneficial during any season but can be especially effective in the winter months. Try dressing in extra layers, even while indoors, to avoid having to hike up the thermostat. Other ways to lower energy usage include:
Wintertime often means more time spent at home, so it can be a good idea to ensure your house is in tip-top shape and ready to head into the cold — helping you save money and energy.
When a storm hits, you don’t want to be caught without snow removal tools. You could make a checklist of important items to have on hand, such as snow shovels, ice scrapers, rock salt or sand for your walkways to improve traction, a snow blower, and snow brushes.
Fallen leaves can quickly clog gutters, resulting in major roof or gutter damage once the weather turns snowy or icy. You may want to clean them out now before temperatures drop and icy or snowy conditions arrive.
Small gaps between door and window frames are invitations for water, cold air, and critters to get inside the house. Replacing worn exterior caulk with new, waterproof sealant that won’t crack or break down over time can make a big difference in keeping warm air in and cold air out. If you have more than an inch wide spaces, you could plug the holes with a foam filler that expands for an airtight seal.
A burst pipe is the last thing anyone wants to deal with this winter. You could keep pipes insulated with foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation. Heating tape can also be wrapped around them before putting on insulation to ensure they do not freeze. You could consider looking for pipes located in crawlspaces and other unheated areas since these pipes can be most susceptible to the cold.
The dirtier the filters, the harder a furnace must work to function properly. Regularly changing the filters in an HVAC system can greatly improve the efficiency of a furnace. Filters should be changed monthly. Consider having your furnace serviced periodically to make sure it is working properly.
Your insulation can deteriorate over time, allowing precious heat to escape through holes and gaps. It’s important to inspect your insulation and add more if needed. Adding an insulating cover over the attic can assist with trapping in heat.
Reducing energy consumption can benefit the environment and your budget regardless of season. With today’s technology, there are now more options for smart thermostats, home appliances, and devices designed to minimize energy use and offer a more hands-off approach to saving electricity. Other helpful year-round energy-saving tips include:
Small steps to be more energy efficient can greatly impact your monthly bill all year. Your energy provider may also share helpful ways to reduce energy consumption and the key maintenance tasks to mark on your calendar.