The weather is dipping and your electric and gas bills are starting to increase. During a typical year, we are somewhat ready to spend the extra money, but the current economy has been a game changer in terms of the economic impact of the seasonal rise in prices. With many companies having doubled contract prices for electricity, we are all looking for ways to reduce winter energy consumption.
We have put together a few tips to help you avoid sticker shock when that bill arrives during winter.
Have an Audit Performed
Now might be a good time if you have never had a professional energy audit performed. An auditor will review your “behavior” in terms of energy costs, tour your home, collect data on energy use, as well as checking the house for possible energy leaks, such as underneath doors and window gaps.
Keep the Warm Air in and the Cold Air Out
One common issue we see during the winter is people using space heaters to keep rooms that are used more often warmer. The problem is that these small heaters use up a lot of energy, relatively speaking. If certain rooms are colder, you more than likely have a leak that is either allowing cold air in or the warm air out.
Consider other solutions such as redoing your attic insulation, sealing wraps for windows, and leaving your curtains open during the day to use the natural sunlight to warm the home. Using heavier curtains, you can close them at night to keep the colder air that hits the windows out of the house. These small investments will pay off significantly during the winter months.
Kill the Vampire Power
If it’s not in use, unplug it. You can also use smart strips to eliminate vampire power, which is the power used when something is plugged in but not actually used. I will be honest… I thought this was a myth until I invested in smart strips for my TVs and computer, and made a conscious habit of unplugging things like my blender, toaster oven, and coffee maker when they were not in use. My bill went down by $15/month, and that was before the electricity was $0.18 per kWh.
Energy Efficient Appliances and Bulbs
There are now government rebates for upgrading appliances to more energy-efficient models, so you might as well take advantage of it. This would be especially true for your most-used appliances, such as the fridge and oven. You can also save significantly by using energy-efficient light bulbs. The overall monthly savings for each individual item may not be much, but together, they can be rather significant.
Again, I will use myself as an example. Several years ago, I lived in an apartment with an old, coil burner electric stove and a fridge about 20 years old with bad door gaskets. The landlord did not want to replace the appliances, so I did it on my own and told him I would take them with me when I did. Just upgrading those two appliances reduced my monthly bill by $35 per month, essentially paying for the two appliances in about three years.