The winter season brings the joy of the Holidays and a nice break from the daunting Texas summer heat. But for those with electric heat, it also means a challenge at keeping warm while keeping down electric bills in check. Running your furnace and cranking up the heat aren’t the only ways to keep your home warm and cozy during the chill of the season. These winter energy savings tips will help you stay comfortable in your home, while reducing the chance of increasing your electricity bill each month. Freeze out the electricity companies, not your family!
Winter Energy Savings Tips
- Free Heat! That big, bright ball in the sky might be what we avoid in the warmer months, but come winter season, we embrace it. Use the sun to your advantage. Open your south-facing window blinds or drapes to let the heat inside. Close them when the sun goes down to keep that warm air circulating, and reduce cold air from getting in.
- Under the Sheets – Never underestimate the power of a good blanket! Swap out your lighter, summer sheets for some fuzzy cotton or flannel sheets. To stay extra toasty, a heavier comforter and extra throws at the end of the bed will keep your tootsies warmer.
- Thermostat Check – When you’re away from home or asleep, turn your thermostat down about 10 degrees. This can save you about 10% more a year on your electricity. Programmable thermostats can help make it easier to remember. Don’t turn your thermostat OFF when you leave the house – it will take more energy to heat up your entire house to a comfortable temperature again.
- Seal the Leaks – An easy way for cool air to enter your home is through cracks and leaks. Seal any leaks you can find. Be sure to check behind cupboards and closets for unfinished spaces, around your chimney and near utility pipes. Weatherstripping can also help around doors and windows. The better you seal up your home, the less chance warm air can escape.
- Blowing Heat – It might seem a bit odd, but this simple, quick method actually works. Grab your blow dryer and your pillowcases. Blow the hot air into your pillowcase and under the sheets until you feel the warmth. Once you feel the heat, jump on in and bundle up! Voila! Your natural body heat will do the rest. You can also put your clothes and bedding in the dryer for a bit to heat them up before using them.
- Smart Lighting – Use LED lights whenever possible around your home. This is especially important during the holidays when you jazz up your house with flashing holiday lights. Using high energy efficient lighting such as LED bulbs and ENERGY STAR rated products is smart for your home and the Earth. You’ll use at least 75% less energy with them, and they can last 25% longer! Ogre Pro Tip: Unplug any appliances (toasters, coffee makers, microwaves, stereos, etc.) and holiday lights before going to bed. Even when they are not being used, they are still drawing power if they are plugged in!
- Bundle Up! – One of the easiest ways to keep that thermostat from constantly being cranked up is to use what you already have in your home to stay warm. Instead of turning on the heat, cuddle up under thick blankets, and wear cozy socks. Toss some throw blankets on your couches and put an area rug on the floor to help insulate it.
- Night, Night – Before getting into bed, throw a few homemade heated rice packs in and cover them with your blankets. This will create a natural heat and make it cozier when you jump in to sleep. Just toss in a few cups of plain rice into an old sock (preferably a clean one), tie it off and microwave it a minute at a time until it’s warm enough. Heat escapes your body mostly through your head and feet, so put on a beanie and some socks before hitting the hay to stay warmer. This is one of those winter energy saving tips everyone can easily do!
- Move the Furniture – If your couch is positioned up against a window or outside wall, you’ll feel chillier when you are lounging around. If you can, move your furniture away from the cooler areas of the home. Furniture that blocks vents and heaters is also soaking up that glorious heat they are pushing out, leaving you in the cold.
- Close the Vents – Closing the vents in rooms you rarely use will help direct the warm air into the more frequently occupied rooms of your home. Storage areas, basements and guest rooms that aren’t being used don’t need the heat. Space heaters with low energy output are also useful in larger rooms.
- Ceiling fans – During the summer and hotter months, we use the ceiling fans to pull hot air upward and away from living areas. Now that the weather is cooler, you’ll want that warm air directed into the room and circulated. Set the ceiling fan to rotate clockwise to trap the heat inside, and leave it on a low setting to push that air down into the room.
- Back to Classics – Grab your flannel pajamas, a cup of steaming hot cocoa (with marshmallows, of course!) and cuddle up on the couch under some blankets. If you have a fireplace, now is the time to take advantage of it! Light lots of candles, as they will put off more heat than you would expect. Good, old fashioned methods of staying warm in your home work just fine. Plus, who doesn’t love some extra snuggles?
- Check the Furnace – Since your furnace will be kicked into high gear during the colder months, be sure to have it checked out. You want to make sure the vents are clean and unblocked. Any blockage can raise energy consumption! When the filter is dirty, replace it. This is a simple task that is inexpensive, as well. Check your furnace monthly to maintain proper performance and reduce your energy bill.
- Stop Exhaust Fans – When you use the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom, they pull the hot air that rises to the ceiling, and push it out. Use these sparingly and be sure you turn them off when you don’t need them.
- Get Cooking – Your oven and dishwasher will put out more heat than you might expect. When you cook, you’re heating up your home AND your belly with a warm meal. Meals like roasts, casseroles, soups and stews cook at lower temperatures for a longer period of time than other meals. Skip the takeout and gather in the kitchen for some fun baking or family meal preparation.
- Attic Doors – Your attic is insulated, but the door might not be. When your attic hatch or door is even slightly warped or obstructed, you’re in trouble. Warm air rises, so the heat in your home could be escaping up into the attic. Just as that air moves, the cold air from outside could be sneaking into your home. Insulate the door just like the rest of the attic, and if it doesn’t lie flat, then be sure to use a latch bolt system so it closes tightly.
- Add Moisture – The stationary air in your home can become very, very dry. Moist air actually feels warmer and holds heat better. Using a humidifier can help you keep that thermostat set at a lower setting while increasing the moisture in the air. House plants can also aid in increasing moisture in your home, keeping it warmer.
- Keep Moving – Your body produces more heat when you’re up and about, so get up! It’s easy to snuggle up and stay put when you’re cold. Turn on some music (80s pop anyone?) and dance around. Clean the house or plan small workouts at home to get your blood pumping. Bonus – who couldn’t use a little more exercise after all of those delicious holiday meals and baked treats?
- Water Heater Checks – Your water heater can use a large portion of the energy on your electricity bill – up to 25%! Lower the temperature to about 120 degrees. You’ll still get the heat you want, and won’t have to wait for the temperature to cool down before it’s comfortable. You should be scheduling maintenance checks for your water heater every few years, as well. Consider wrapping it in insulation or inexpensive blankets can save you money during the cold months.
By using simple, winter energy savings tips, you’ll lower your electricity bill during the cold months. Staying cozy and warm in your home doesn’t mean you have to crank up the heat! Try these tips so that you can stay comfortable this season, and let your energy bill be the one to suffer instead!!