10 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Energy Bills This Winter

Slash your energy bills (and usage) with these simple tricks.

By Jessica Dysart

#1: Embrace (free) solar

Take advantage of free solar power simply by opening your curtains or blinds. During the day, open curtains on all south-facing windows to let sunlight in and heat your home naturally. Once the sun goes down, be sure to cover them again to trap the heat inside.

#2: Lower your thermostat

It may seem intuitive, but lowering your thermostat by just one degree can translate to big savings. For each degree lowered, you can save about one percent on your heating bill annually. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends keeping your thermostat set at 68 degrees while you’re home, or as low as is comfortable, and less while away or sleeping. A 10-15 degree drop for eight hours a day will save around 10 percent on your bill.

#3: Get a smart thermostat

Investing in smart and programmable thermostats can make it easy to keep thermostats at optimal temperatures for reducing energy consumption. The Nest Learning Thermostat, for example, “learns what temperature you like and builds a schedule around yours.” According to their website, an independent study found that it saved an average of 10 to 12 percent of heating bills. Note: programmable thermostats generally aren’t recommended for homes with heating pumps.

#4: Don't block vents

Make sure warm air is circulating properly by checking your vents. Move any furniture or other items blocking vents to clear the path for the heat.

#5: Use ceiling fans...the right way

Hot air rises, so in the winter that warm air goes right to your ceiling, making your rooms feel colder. In the warmer months, ceiling fans run counterclockwise to keep cooler air down. Reversing the direction of your fan (most have a simple switch on the side) will push warm air down for an instantly cozier feel.

#6: Find drafty spots

Keeping warm air from escaping is important both for staying warm and reducing energy costs. You may know some areas in your home that are drafty, such as door or window frames. But many other spots can be leaking air. Check out Energy.gov’s checklist for detecting leaks here, and learn how to properly seal them here.

#7: Get an energy audit

For a more accurate picture of your home’s energy consumption and how you can save money, schedule an energy audit. Here’s how it works: a professional energy auditor will assess where your house is losing energy using tools like blower doors, infrared cameras, furnace efficiency meters, and more, according to the Department of Energy. They’ll take a look at the interior and exterior of your home and your past year’s fuel bills and recommend efficiency upgrades to save on energy. You could save five to 30 percent on your monthly bills, says Energy.gov. For more information, check out their handy infographic on energy audits here.

#8: Adjust your water heater

Lowering the temperature of your water heater can save you four to 22 percent annually on your bill, according to Energy.gov. Using the “warm” setting, around 120 degrees, can also lower your risk of scalding. Find out how to lower your water heater’s temperature here.

#9: Maintain your furnace

Scheduling a yearly tuneup for your furnace with an experienced technician ensures proper function, and also helps prevent breakdowns, which can be costly. Damaged heating equipment can also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Angie’s List. Failing to schedule inspections could also void your appliance's warranty.

#10: Close fireplace damper

If your home has a fireplace, you may actually be losing heat instead of creating it. When not in use, make sure to keep the fireplace flue damper tightly closed to prevent air from escaping through the chimney.

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