Lowering Your Energy Bill This Winter
When colder weather arrives, it’s easy to crank up the heat, huddle under blankets and sit comfortably while winter takes its toll just outside your windows. However, that also means an increase in energy bills these next few months. It may take some changing of habits, but by using your appliances more conservatively and efficiently with our tips below, you’ll be saving dramatically on costs and minimizing the amount of energy your house needs, all the while staying warm and toasty!
Weatherproof Your Home:
Before you feel the wrath of winter (and run to turn up that thermostat), weatherproof your home. If you don’t insulate the house properly, warm air will escape through the cracks and cold air will find its way in. Use the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zip Code Insulation Program to determine how much insulation you need and where to achieve the recommended insulation levels for maximum energy efficiency. The Zip-Code Insulation Program also provides insulation cost estimates.
Take Proper Care of Your Furnace:
It’s important to clean furnaces annually so that they operate safely, efficiently and allow for maximum warm air to flow. In addition, make sure to clean the furnace filters monthly – clogged filters tend to accumulate dust and other particles that prevent proper airflow through the furnace. With a clean filter, your furnace will require less energy to heating your home properly, which will help you save on your utility bill. You can also add supplemental heating (such as space heaters) or pile on those blankets and give your furnace a rest every once in a while.
Invest in a Smart Thermostat:
A good thermostat will be able to keep your energy bill low and learn your preferences while keeping your house comfortably warm. Smart thermostats are relatively easy to install and once it’s in place it will immediately start learning based on the temperatures you set. Some smart thermostats are even accessible via mobile apps so that you can adjust the setting from your smartphone while viewing real-time graphics that show how much you’re saving on energy.
Don’t Dry in the Dishwasher:
During the holiday season, it’s easy for dishes to pile up so the dishwasher seems like the most reasonable option to tackle that pile. Most people tend to fill it up partially and send it through a cleaning and drying cycle, wasting a lot of energy, so be sure to fill your dishwasher before running the rinse cycle. Load your dirty dishes in the dishwasher once you’re done with them rather than keeping them in the sink to lower the amount of clutter in your kitchen. Before you turn it on, make sure the dirtiest part of the dishes face toward the spray jets and add in a rinse aid to help remove extra spots. Once they’re done, let your dishes air dry – it will cut down on the energy used to heat your dishwasher.
Eliminate Phantom Power:
It’s hard to keep track of all the electric gadgets and appliances that are eating away at your energy bill (the fridge, the TV, the wireless router, cable boxes, various chargers…) but there are steps you can take to be reduce your energy cost. Create a checklist and go from room to room to see what’s plugged in. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to organize what you can unplug before you go to work and before bedtime. Of course, some appliances can’t go unplugged (such as your fridge), but you can compare Energy Star ratings for standby power before your next large appliance purchase to make sure you are purchasing the most efficient models.