Nothing packs a double punch like holiday spending and high home heating bills. With plenty of winter weather in the forecast, we could all use some ideas to take the sting out of our energy cost. There are plenty of things you can do to save money on electricity and natural gas. Unfortunately, some of these projects are more challenging after the cold temperatures are upon us. Here are some easy tips you can use to increase your comfort while saving money on energy.
Let the Sun Shine
Passive solar heating is a great way to warm up your home. Open your curtain and blinds during the day. The sunlight streaming in through the glass will naturally heat your home at no cost to you. South-facing windows are the most effective although east-facing windows can be great for giving your home a boost of heat in the morning. To maximize the effect, remove screens from the windows for the winter season. As the sun begins to set, close your curtains and blinds to help retain heat.
Caulking out the Cold
When it comes to lowering your winter energy bill, the word “caulk” always pops up. Air leaks around windows and exterior doors are one of the main sources of energy waste in our homes. Many of us have good intentions but never get around to this inexpensive but effective project. Fortunately, it is probably not too late to seal around your windows and doorframes.
Most types of caulk require that you apply it and allow it to cure when temperatures are above 40°F. This especially true for most latex caulks. However, there are silicone and rubber-based caulks that can be applied in temperatures as low as -20°F. You will need to keep the caulk warm until you apply it. The surface must also be clean and dry. This is definitely more difficult than caulking during warmer weather but it can be done. Check with your local home store for the right products and additional tips on application.
Saving Energy While you Sleep
You can cut your home energy costs while you are asleep by setting back the thermostat a few degrees. If you have a routine sleep schedule, you can use a programmable thermostat to make this easy and efficient. Just lower the thermostat setting at bedtime and have it return to the normal setting an hour before you wake up. Try reducing the temperature by 3-4°F. Some people find that they are comfortable with a bigger setback, but ease into it and see what works for you.
Now that your home is a bit on the chilly side, you need to make sure you stay warm for a comfortable night’s sleep. Extra blankets are always a great solution and add nothing to your energy bill. Some people use space heaters to keep their bedroom warm while the rest of the house chills. However, you will find that an electric blanket is the real champion when it comes to keeping you warm and saving money. Electric blankets can use as little as one-fourth of the electricity as space heaters. As with space heaters, be sure to read and follow all of the safety precautions.
Check Your Energy Rate
While you should always focus on optimizing and conserving the amount of energy you use, you should also make sure you are getting competitive electricity and natural gas rates. For Texas consumers, a fixed rate electricity plan is essential to avoiding bill shock. Make sure you know when your electricity plan ends and start shopping for competitive rates a few weeks before the end date. Avoid default month-to-month pricing that occurs when you fail to choose a new electricity provider or plan. Residents of other states with the right to choose their energy supplier should also shop around. Don’t assume that the utility default price is the most competitive. You can take charge of your energy bill by choosing a competitive supplier and locking in your rate for a longer term.
You don’t have to break the bank to be comfortable in your home this winter. Following these tips will save you money and help when those holiday bills come due!
P.S. Remember to reverse your ceiling fans to spin clockwise and drive the warm air downward where you can enjoy it!