5 Tips to Save Money on Utilities This WinterDecember 20, 2016
The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year — for everything except your wallet. With the average American spending $752 on holiday gifts and existing utility bills increasing as temperatures start to drop, the winter months can challenge even the most budget-conscious individuals. Luckily, there are several things you can do to prevent your bills from skyrocketing, so here are five tips and tricks for saving on utilities this winter:
Lower the thermostat:
Possibly the simplest way to keep your utility bills low this winter is by being mindful of what temperature your thermostat is set. This doesn’t mean that you have to walk around the house wearing a winter coat, gloves, and your thickest socks — but a sweatshirt or blanket could be manageable in exchange for the potential cost savings. Lowering the number on the thermostat by even a few degrees can really add up, especially if you’re leaving the house for an extended period of time.
Fix drafty doors and windows:
Repairing windows and doors with air leaks can save you up to 30 percent of money on your energy bill each year. Weatherstripping is easy to do — almost like applying tape — and can make a big difference. To see if your windows and doors need a little facelift for the winter, try the flashlight test — have someone shine a flashlight into the edges of windows and doors, and step outside to check if you can see the light shining through. For more information on how to install weatherstripping, reference this online tutorial.
Seal off rooms you do not use:
If you have rooms in your home that do not get used often, such as a guest room or extra storage room, sealing them off can be helpful. Keep the doors, windows, and heating vents closed will help you retain the heat in the rest of your home.
Replace light bulbs:
With the shorter days and fewer hours of light that come with the winter months, it can help to replace traditional light bulbs with more energy-efficient bulbs. Using compact fluorescent bulbs can cost more initially, but they can last up to ten times longer than traditional bulbs.
Install a programmable thermostat:
Programmable thermostats can save homeowners up to 30 percent on utility bill by allowing you to program the times in which you want the temperature in your home to go up or down. For example, you can set your heat to a lower temperature while you are at work, and then have it work on resuming comfortable temperatures an hour or two before you return home. If you like cooler temperatures while you sleep, you can program your thermostat to a lower heat during the night, and then turn it back up a few hours before you wake up. Just try not to turn to your heat completely off during the day, as large jumps in temperatures can cost more and, in extreme weather, could cause pipes to freeze. Before you set your system, learn more about the benefits of programming your thermostat — including a few key limitations.
Don’t let high utility bills break your budget
Ah, winter — holiday music, twinkling lights, cozy nights by the fire, snow…and higher bills. If you are resourceful, you can reduce the impact of that last one. By using these five simple tips (or these, if you’re really ambitious), you can manage — or even lower — the cost of your electric and gas bills! With a little effort and some minor home improvements, you will be surprised by just how much you could save.