Winter brings low temperatures, freezing winds, and chilly precipitation — all of which encourage you to boost your thermostat to keep your home warm and cozy. However, increasing the heat in your home means you’re also increasing the size of your gas and electricity bills. Keep more money in your pocket during the winter season with these 13 helpful winter energy-saving tips.
- Set lower thermostat settings during winter
- Inspect your HVAC system
- Stop air leaks
- Inspect the fireplace
- Use your curtains efficiently
- Change your air filter(s)
- Reverse your ceiling fan
- Add more insulation
- Switch to LED lights
- Insulate your pipes
- Bundle up
- Close doors and vents in rooms you don’t use
- Crack your oven door
Just like in the summer, saving energy in winter comes down to how effectively you use energy around the home. If you lower the stress on your heater by using it less, you’ll end up with a lower energy bill.
#1. Set a Cooler Temperature with Your Thermostat
We get it. No one wants to be inside and cold in the winter. But the higher you set your thermostat, the higher your energy bills will be. When you push your heater too far above 70° F, you’ll start seeing energy bills like you did in summer when you set your air conditioner at 72° F or below.
To begin seeing a real difference in your energy usage and cost, we recommend the following setting for your thermostat:
- 68° F during the day when people are home. This is the recommendation from the Department of Energy if you want to save on your winter utility bills.
- 65° F (or lower if you can handle it) at night or when people are away from home. You could even go down to 61 when everyone’s at work — as long as your pets can handle it.
The goal is to help your heater work more effectively so you don’t have to keep it running all the time. That’s because your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system uses more energy than anything else in your home. So, if you want a lower bill in winter, you should start by using less energy to heat your home. Anything less won’t deliver the impact you want.
#2 Inspect Your HVAC System
Not you personally, of course, unless you’re certified for HVAC systems. To truly ensure your heater is working properly all winter, call a licensed professional. They’ll come out and conduct a thorough inspection of your entire heating system. This includes the duct work, wiring, and other physical hardware. Any failures in the system equals wasted heat, which means you’re shelling out cash for heat no one uses. Make sure you also get your HVAC system cleaned. An inspection won’t be nearly as useful if dust bunnies are creating a den in your ducts.
#3 Stop Air Leaks
This process is often called weatherstripping. Take some time to seal up all of the areas of your home where warm inside air can escape and cool outside air can sneak in. These are the most important places to check:
- Windows – add fresh silicone caulk to the inside and outside of your window frames
- Doors – install new weatherstripping to the frames of all doors that lead to the outside (including to the garage)
- Outlets – secure wall plates around outlets (including installing gaskets around the very loose ones)
- Exterior – close openings in your foundation and other parts of your house
If you have leaks and drafts in your home, your heater will keep running all winter long because it can’t keep up with transfer of air between the interior and exterior of your home. For those of you with drafty older homes or rentals you can’t make changes to, you have some other options as well — like using plastic film insulation to seal up any leaky windows. Not sure if you have air leaks? Walk around your home with a candle. If the flame wobbles at a certain spot, that’s a leak.
#4 Inspect the Fireplace
Unless you’re a professional fireplace inspector for your day job, you should hire one for your home. There are two primary reasons you need the inspection:
- If you don’t use your fireplace to heat your home, you need to ensure the fireplace and chimney are sealed so cold air doesn’t enter the home.
- If you do use the fireplace to heat your home, you need to confirm everything is in working order so you don’t inhale noxious gases and emissions.
Ultimately, the fireplace is a large hole in your house, so it needs to be maintained so your home doesn’t waste energy.
#5 Use Your Curtains Efficiently
Earlier, we sealed up the leaks in your windows so you can keep a strong heat envelope in your home. Now, it’s time to use those windows to aid in keeping your home comfortable.
- Install heavy curtains and keep them closed at night so warm air stays inside the home.
- Open the curtains during the day to let in ambient sunshine that warms the home.
The goal remains helping your home stay warm without overusing your heater, which drives up your energy bill.
#6 Change Your Air Filter
Yes, you can find this tip on any list about energy efficiency, but it’s for a good reason. The dirtier the air filter for your HVAC system, the harder it works to do its job. And the harder it works, the more energy you’ll use just to keep your home comfortable.
You should change the filter every three months at minimum, but most professionals recommend changing it once a month. We suggest consulting with the manufacturer of your HVAC unit to determine the best course of action for your particular machine.
#7 Reverse Your Ceiling Fan
Check every fan in your home to ensure they all spin clockwise. In the warmer months, it’s better to have them spinning counterclockwise, pushing cool air down into the room. But when it’s cold, you want the fan to pull warm air up into the ceiling so it can then settle down into the room and keep you warm. Not sure how to change the spin direction? Check the main console of the fan — there should be a switch.
#8 Add More Insulation
According to home improvement professionals, your attic insulation level should be R30-rated. The R Value measures how well your insulation can resist heat traveling through it. The higher the number, the better. Without proper insulation, your home is unable to retain heat properly, so your heater has to keep running so your family stays warm all winter.
Depending on the age of your home and how it was constructed, you should also consider adding insulation to your walls. And while both of these tasks can be handled by a homeowner with do-it-yourself experience, you can also call a professional for assistance.
#9 Switch to LED Lights
Regular lightbulbs are surprisingly inefficient.. Traditional incandescent bulbs waste nearly 90% of their energy, while LED bulbs effectively use nearly 90%. Switching the bulbs to LED ones in the most-used rooms of your house will make a big change to your energy usage. This is doubly true when you change out your decorative holiday lighting to LED lights.
#10 Insulate Your Pipes
While you should insulate the pipes outside of your home to prevent them from freezing and hurting your home, you should also cover any exposed pipes inside your home. Doing so prevents heat loss and helps maintain proper water temperature, which is a substantial cause of high heating bills in winter. If you live in a particularly cold area, be sure to keep a drip going in the sink if you leave town — that way the pipes won’t freeze while you’re gone.
#11 Bundle Up
Sometimes the easiest tip can be the most effective.. If you’ve lowered your thermostat and people complain about the cold, encourage them to put on a sweater and socks at home. The point of these winter energy-saving tips is to keep your family comfortable while lowering your heating energy usage. But the people in your home need to work together with the heating system for the best effect. Invest in some blankets or have people wear more clothes at home so you can keep the thermostat on lower temperatures all winter long.
#12 Close Doors and Vents in Rooms You Don’t Use
Don’t waste extra energy heating rooms and spaces that you aren’t using. If you have a guest room that’s rarely used, or your kid has a bedroom waiting for them to come home from college, or even if you have a storage space that no one spends a lot of time in — close those doors and vents. They don’t need to be heated if they’re not being used.
#13 Crack Your Oven Door
Consider this tip a simple life hack. Say you’ve cooked a big meal (or even a small one) in your oven. You had to heat it, right? And when you’re done cooking, what happens to that heat? It just sits there. Take advantage of your empty oven and once you’re done with it, crack the door open to let the heat from inside warm up the space around it. Just remember to turn it off, first — leaving it on would be both inefficient and dangerous.
Save on Winter Energy Bills with Chariot Energy
There’s a chance you’re still paying a lot for electricity and gas even if you put all of these tips into action at home. If that’s the case, you’re probably paying too much per kilowatt-hour of energy. Check the kWh rate on your most recent energy bill and then visit ChariotEnergy.com to see if we have cheaper rates in your area.
Additionally, you can learn more energy efficiency tips for your home at Chariot University so you can stay warm in the winter and cool when summer arrives.