Ah, winter. Just around the corner is the season of twinkling holiday lights, get-togethers with friends and family, hot baths and what’s that? … Higher energy bills?
Correct. In some parts of the US, winter time means a major spike in the amount you may have to spend on utilities. But there are ways to make your holiday time (and the resulting invoice) festive, not frightful. Let’s dig into our favorite ways to save energy in the fall and winter.
Keep your thermostat at or below 68 degrees. In the United States, energy costs for heating and cooling together make up about 42 percent of residential energy consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Regulating the temperature in your home is important and can save you a bundle! The Department of Energy suggests setting your temperature to 68 degrees while at home and lowering the temperature before going to bed. Your HVAC system will have less work to do, resulting in lower energy consumption and lower bills. Make temperature optimization a breeze by installing a smart thermostat. Don’t have one yet? Get a great deal in the OhmConnect store (or if you’re an OhmConnect member, an even BETTER deal in the Rewards Marketplace.)
Make the best use of your windows. When it’s daytime, open the blinds and let the sunshine in! At night and during unoccupied periods of the day, close curtains, shades and blinds to help prevent warm air from escaping.
Check for cracks, leaks, and drafts and seal ‘em! Air leakage occurs because of cracks or gaps in windows, doors and walls and can mean higher monthly energy bills when they let heat escape and cold air enter. Before it gets too cold, check your doors and windows for air leakage that could keep your heater running overtime. If your front or back door has space between it and the floor, add weather stripping to the bottom or use caulk to seal the gap. This will prevent excess heat from escaping and could keep your heater from running up your energy bill. Also, be sure to check out the exterior or your home – it’s common to find gaps or cracks around windows and doors or where different building materials meet.
Track your usage and get rewarded for your savings with OhmConnect. One of the big reasons why we sometimes get an unpleasant surprise on our monthly energy bills is simply because generally, people don’t pay attention to how much energy we use during a given period of time. With a free service called OhmConnect (currently available in California and Texas) you can not only track which appliances are using the most energy in your home but actually get rewarded when you can unplug them for a few hours per week! Who knew one of these tips would not only save you money but actually pay you?!
Your fireplace can help. When using your fireplace, turn down your heater. When you're not cozied up, close the damper to block incoming cold air. Also consider purchasing energy efficient fireplace grates – these grates will draw cool air into the fireplace while pushing warm air back into your room.
Reverse the spin of ceiling fans. Ceiling fans can certainly keep you cool in the Summer, but believe it or not, they can also help keep you warm! If you reverse the direction to clockwise, your ceiling fans will push warm air back down. It will also redistribute the warm air from your heating system, making sure pockets of cold air don’t settle in the corners of each room. In the summer, don’t forget to adjust the fans back to counter-clockwise. This will pull hot air up to the ceiling and help with cooling costs, too. Don’t have any fans? Check your nearest home improvement store for deals and install ceiling fans in the rooms you use most. Some improvement stores will even install ceiling fans for you!
Replace your HVAC filter. This tip is easy to forget (who wants to spend time thinking about their HVAC system?), but could save your home from using unnecessary energy and spending more money on your monthly bill. Your air filter is the access point for your HVAC system’s air flow, and the place that filters your home from allergens and dirt particles. If you don’t replace your air filter, it clogs up from excess dust. This reduces airflow, or increases resistance, which puts strain on your heating and cooling system. Check your filter once a month to make sure it’s not too dirty. If you’ve got a Nest thermostat, they’ll remind you when it’s time to change!
Conserve heat with tin foil. Yes, you read that correctly and no, we’re not wearing the tin foil as a hat while we write this – placing a piece of tin foil behind your radiator will actually help reflect heat back into your home. Don’t let that precious heat go out the window; this cheap and simple hack can help you save on winter heating bills. Just make sure the shiny side is facing the radiator!
Make sure your insulation is up to snuff. If you haven’t already, insulate the spaces between your walls with foam or the eco friendly insulation of your choice. Homes often leak warm air in the winter because of spaces between walls. Improving the insulation in your home is a great way to reduce those monthly bills.
Save money on your holiday lights Though festive and shiny, holiday lighting can waste a quite amount of energy. But no need to cancel your Christmas decoration plans just yet. By choosing LED light strings, you can save a lot of money in comparison to incandescent bulbs! According to the Department of Energy of the United States, lighting up a six-foot tree 12 hours each day for 40 days would cost an estimate of $10 when using incandescent C-9 lights. In contrast, the same tree would cost only $0.27 in the same time period with LED strings. As if this wasn’t enough, LED lights are known for being safer, cooler and even easier to install.
Bundle up! Your clothing choices should play a key part in your energy saving strategy. If you insulate your body with proper clothing, you won’t have to rely on your home’s heating system quite as much, which means you’ll be able to set your thermostat at a lower temperature and save money on your energy bill. Thermal shirts, socks, sweaters and rugs will do the work and keep your body warmer. And who doesn’t love feeling cozy in cooler weather?
And that’s it! Let us know on Facebook if you try any of these tips and notice an improvement on your energy bill. Stay cozy, friends!
Katie is an award-winning journalist and digital strategist with more than 10 years of experience in print and digital media and a passion for the environment and fighting climate change.
Welcome to the OhmConnect Blog! We're here to help you navigate the world of energy conservation, smart technologies, and money-saving tips for your home. Whether you're looking for expert advice on reducing your carbon footprint or want to discover the latest gadgets to make your home more energy-efficient, we've got you covered.