What would you do with the extra cash you could save from taking simple steps to reduce your winter energy bills without compromising comfort? You could take a weekend vacation. Or make your teenage daughter the happiest teen on the planet by gifting her the newest iPhone. Or perhaps opt for something more practical like purchasing term life insurance.
By completing home upgrades and tweaking energy consumption behaviors, homeowners could potentially save hundreds of dollars (or possibly more) every year on their winter energy bills. Keep in mind exactly how much you could save depends on seasonal temperature fluctuations and the type of resources you use to heat your home.
For example, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water “can account for 14 to 25 percent of the energy consumed in your home.” By turning down the water heater to the warm setting (120°F), you could save up to $10 per month while also avoiding surprise faucet-scalding episodes.
So, here they are–the top 18 ways to save money on your energy bills this winter. Some of these tips you can use all year long to save even more on energy bills:
1. Turn Down the Thermostat
Turning your thermostat down to 58 or 59 degrees at night while you sleep may reduce a natural gas heating bill by as much as eight percent.
2. Upgrade Faucets and Showerheads
Replace old faucet aerators and showerheads with energy-efficient ones that decrease water usage by nearly 50 percent without affecting water pressure.
3. Install LED Lights
Use almost 80 percent less electricity by switching to LED lights if you currently use halogen incandescent bulbs.
4. Utilize Power Strips
Instead of plugging TVs and digital equipment into wall sockets, use power strips that allow you to turn them all off when not using them easily. Standby consumption of appliances that are “off” but still plugged in equals the power utilized by a shining, 100-watt bulb. Due to something called “phantom” loading, appliances and electronic devices continue consuming electricity even when they are not in use.
5. Replace Windows
Replace or repair old/poorly fitting windows to potentially save 10 to 20 percent on your winter energy bill.
6. Upgrade Old Doors
Replace doors that are not sealed properly. Consider fiberglass doors or other energy-efficient doors that won’t shrink or crack like cheaply made doors.
7. Get Roof Inspected
Have your roof inspected before winter. Missing shingles, cracked shingles, and other damage allow moisture to infiltrate your home and contribute to expensive heat loss.
8. Consider a Tankless Water Heater
If you’re considering getting a new water heater, consider installing a tankless model. These “hot water on demand” units use up to 50 percent less electricity than standard hot water tanks.
9. Insulate the Attic
Insulating the attic floor helps keep heat in the lower part of a home. Although homeowners can blow insulation into walls, laying about 10 to 12 inches of insulation on an attic floor is easier and more affordable.
10. Go Solar
Going solar. Harnessing the sun’s energy with solar panels can provide enough energy for an entire household to run all devices, appliances, and heating/cooling systems. Investing in solar energy typically pays for itself within a few years. In addition, solar energy is a great way to avoid brownouts or energy disruptions during severe weather.
11. Install Ceiling Fans
Installing ceiling fans in larger rooms can reduce heating and cooling costs because ceiling fans push warm air down and circulate cooler air efficiently.
12. Replace Old Furnace
Replacing older furnaces (before 1992) with energy-efficient heating systems. Furnaces installed prior to 1992 have an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating of only 80 percent. Newer condensing furnaces offer AFUEs of 90 percent or higher.
13. Install a Smart Thermostat
Using programmable thermostats to adjust a home’s temperature with smartphones can save money for homeowners who are frequently away and do not need to heat or cool their homes fully.
14. Only do Full Loads of Laundry
Wash and dry only full loads of laundry. Running partial loads does not save energy. In fact, small loads use up as much electricity and hot water as full loads. So, unless something requires washing by itself, load up that washer to reduce energy and water usage. This goes for dishwashers as well. Load them up and use cold water when possible.
15. Insulate Pipes
Insulate pipes if possible. Pipes providing hot water may lose a little or a lot of heat, depending on how far the water travels from the water heater to a faucet. Insulating pipes before winter may also shorten the amount of time you run them to get hot water.
16. Install Window Treatments
Utilize energy-saving window treatments. Honeycomb shades provide air pocket shells within the polyester fabric that help insulate the home in winter and repel sunlight in the summer. Plastic heat-shrink sheets for windows applied to window frames prevent heat from escaping.
17. Add Shutters
Exterior window shutters made of wood, fiberglass, aluminum, or vinyl provide a decorative component to a home and limit the amount of heat and cold entering it.
18. Insulate Garage
If your garage is attached to your home, you can insulate the garage door by adding a bottom seal and weather stripping to the door. A warmer garage means less cold air infiltrates your home. Or, you might consider replacing an old garage door with an energy-efficient, R-18 door that keeps your garage as much as 10 degrees warmer during winter and up to 20 degrees cooler in the summer.
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