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As the season changes, so do our needs in keeping our homes comfortable and cozy. But the rising costs of everything from food to natural resources mean you might experience a bit of a shock when you open your energy bills over the next few months. In that case, you might be looking at how you can save on your electric bill this winter.
According to the Associated Press, the price of natural gas in the U.S. doubled over the past year. A number of factors played into this price spike, including higher prices overseas spurred by shortages in supply and a higher demand for fuel due to the COVID-19 pandemic recovery.
“Consumers got used to very low prices last year because with the pandemic everything was shut down,” Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, told AP. “Now, everything’s coming back online, industry is returning and natural gas is being used again in very large quantities. And that’s pushing up the price.”
While consumers cannot directly control the price of electricity, oil or natural gas used to heat and power our homes, we can make changes in our daily lives to save money on energy costs.
So just how can you save on your electric bill? We’ve rounded up 11 simple ways to help you this winter. Most of the solutions are simple, require little technical know-how, and won’t require your family to suffer in the colder months.
1. Use a Programmable Thermostat
If you’ve been holding off on picking up a smart thermostat, then you might want to take the leap now. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can save 10% on your energy costs just by changing your temperature 7-10 degrees for eight hours per day. A programmable thermostat ensures that you don’t feel these temperature changes.
The ability to program your thermostat keeps your home at steady, energy-efficient temperatures throughout the day. You can program them for various temperature zones in your house and set timers to keep the heat low when you’re not home or asleep.
2. Switch to Energy-Efficient LED Lightbulbs
LED bulbs use up to 90% less energy and last 25 times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs. According to energy company Evergy, by swapping just five bulbs in your home, you can save up to $100 per year on your electric bill.
3. Make Sure Your Heating Registers Are Clear
Take a look around your house and make sure your heating registers are not blocked. Sometimes as we move furniture around the room, we might cover up the vents where heat enters the room. Keep those registers clear to make sure heat can flow efficiently and safely.
4. Keep Blinds and Curtains Open During the Winter Months
The sun still shines in the winter, even if it seems less bright. So, let’s use it to our advantage. Make sure to open the blinds and curtains to let the sun’s rays warm your home. Then, at night, close them back up to minimize heat loss through the windows.
5. Use a Ceiling Fan
It might sound crazy, but a ceiling fan can help keep your home warmer in the colder months. The fan can help circulate warm air around the room. However, make sure to flip the switch on your ceiling fan so the blades spin in a clockwise direction. This allows the fan to pull the warm air up and allow it to move throughout the room.
6. Change Your HVAC Filters
According to SmoEnergy, you should change your forced-air heating system filters at the beginning of the season. Over time, these filters get filled with dust and other particles that minimize efficiency. If you have pets, experts recommend changing the air filter once a month. Most homeowners can replace the filter on their own. But, you can always call your HVAC service provider for assistance, if necessary.
7. Wash Clothes in Cold Water Whenever Possible
Move that temperature dial on your washing machine to cold. Up to 90% of your washing machine’s energy gets used for heating up the water. By switching to cold water, Canadian utility company BCHydro claims you can save up to $70 in electricity expenses each year.
8. Install Weather-stripping Around Windows and Doors
Keep that precious heat inside with some inexpensive weatherstripping around your doors and windows. You can find these self-adhesive strips of rubber foam at any home improvement center. They are inexpensive, easy to install, and will save you money on your heating bills.
9. Replace Old Appliances
This tip might be a bit expensive in the short term, but it can save you money in the long run. Consumer Reports says that by purchasing a new appliance with an Energy Star label, energy use can be reduced from between 25-75%, depending on the appliance and the rating. This can translate into savings of up to $500 a year.
10. Get Your Heating System Serviced by a Professional
Don’t wait until your heating system breaks down before you call in a professional. An annual inspection by your HVAC service provider can make sure your heater is running at maximum efficiency and prevent any future emergencies you’ll want to avoid when it gets really cold.
11. Use a Humidifier
The winter months are dry and this makes the house feel colder. Then, when you crank up the heat, you’re using more energy, which runs up your bills. By using a humidifier in your house, the air holds on to the heat better and keeps you from turning up the thermostat. There are whole-house humidifiers and room humidifiers available, depending on your needs.
Stay warm and safe this winter — and learn how to save on your electric bill, too!