As a homeowner, utility bills account for a high portion of your monthly expenses. Because of this, it’s important to keep those bills as low as possible this winter. In addition to keeping your home well maintained, there are several simple ways to make sure your energy costs stay low.
1. Exploit the Greenhouse Effect
Most people are vaguely aware of how greenhouses work—you get sunlight coming in through the glass, and everything inside absorbs its warmth. That heat doesn’t escape very easily because it’s stuck in a closed space, so the greenhouse stays warm.
You can use these same principles in your home. Just leave the blinds open on your windows during the day, and you’ll get free heat from the sun. This works especially well with south-facing windows since those tend to get more sunlight during the winter.
2. Turn Down Your Water Heater
A nice warm shower is wonderful on a cold winter morning, but it doesn’t have to be scalding. You can save on utility bills by turning your water heater’s temperature down a few degrees. If it’s set anywhere higher than 120°F, lower it.
By lowering the temperature, you keep your water heater from having to work as hard against the cold, ultimately lowering utility bills. In most cases, that energy wouldn’t have been used very well anyway. After all, if the water is uncomfortably hot, you’d probably just temper it with a dash of cold water, making the extra heating a waste.
3. Insulate Pipes
Another way to help with the costs of heating water in your home is to insulate your pipes, especially those that might be more exposed to cool temperatures. For instance, if your water heater is in your basement, you might want to cover nearby pipes with foam insulation. It’s a quick, inexpensive way to keep heat from leaving your plumbing as you use it this winter.
Insulating your piping can not only help with water heating costs, but it may also help reduce the amount of water you use as well. Instead of waiting for hot water to make it through cold pipes to your sink or shower, you’ll get it a little sooner. That way, you don’t have to run the faucet as long.
4. Clear Your Registers
Central to staying warm this winter is your home heating system, and if you’re like most homeowners, you probably have a duct-based system. This system circulates hot air around your home and out through the registers (vents) in each room.
In order to work efficiently, the ducts and vents need to be clear of obstructions, which is part of why duct cleaning may be needed from time to time. This also means you should keep the registers clear of obstacles. Keeping furniture near intake vents, for instance, could put more strain on your HVAC system and cost you a little extra each month, so rearrange things accordingly.
5. Wear a Sweater
It does sound like the kind of backhanded advice a bill-paying parent would give, but dressing warm can actually help out with energy costs. By keeping yourself warm and turning the thermostat down a few degrees, you can shave 5% off your monthly utility bills.
In addition to wearing a sweater, consider putting warm blankets in readily accessible spots around your home. That way, you’ll be more likely to reach for a quilt than the thermostat.
6. Turn Down the Thermostat at Night
In connection with dressing warm, you can save more on utility bills by turning down the thermostat at night. Fewer areas of your home need heating while everyone’s asleep, and you’ll be wrapped up in blankets in any case. As such, it can be worthwhile to turn down the thermostat ten degrees before turning in.
This is also true for times during the day when you’re not home. Before heading out, turn down the thermostat a few degrees. After all, there’s no real point in heating an empty house. To make this simpler, it may be worthwhile to invest in a smart thermostat. You can control it remotely through your smartphone, and you can program it to follow specific schedules throughout the week, making it far easier to keep utility bills down. Smart thermostats are available online and in most home improvement stores.
Alongside consistent maintenance on your home appliances and HVAC system, you can keep your utility bills down throughout winter. In the event that your home requires repairs to get it winter ready, a home warranty can help control the costs even more. Take a look at your options and determine which plan works best for you.