Ten Ways To Save On Your Electric Bill This Winter

by Hank Coleman

This past week as marked a turning point in the South with temperatures noticeably dropping and long sleeves and pants making their comeback out of the depths of our closets. I routinely see my electric bill almost double during the winter while I switch on my home’s electric heating unit. Electricity costs can eat up a substantial portion of your monthly budget if you are not careful. Households that use heating oil and gas do not fair much better either. In fact the average home using heating oil spends over $320 per month and gas users pay over $160 each month according to Money magazine.

But, there are ways that you can curb the cost of electricity, lower your heating costs, and save on your electric bill this winter. Below are ten easy and simple ways to keep the drafts out of your home and your wallet this winter while you save on your electric bill.

1. Add Weather Stripping To Your Doors

If you can slip a sheet of paper under your door frame or between the frame and the door itself, then the gap is too wide and you are losing precious warm air to the outside elements. You are essentially trying to heat the whole neighborhood like our parents always complained about when we were growing up. One way to solve this problem is by installing door sweeps and weather stripping that can block the draft and keep your warm air inside.

2. Insolate Your Attic

An attic tent canhelp you save money on electricity this winter.One of the biggest places that you lose the battle of hot air escaping from your home is where you enter your attic. Those little doors and drop down stairs are horrible energy wasters. One of the best ways that you can save on your electric bill and fix the problem is by installing an attic tent that securely fits over the hatch, and you can zip and unzip it to enter your attic when needed.

3. Free Home Energy Audits

Many electricity companies offer home energy audits that can help you locate where some of your heat is escaping your house and raising your electricity bill. Some electricity companies offer an online version of the audit, and others even come out to conduct a comprehensive in-home version. If you make big upgrades to your home, many states offer incentives for those improvements that can save you almost 75% or more of the upgrades.

4. Replace Your Most Used Light Bulbs With CFLs

This is a simple tip that you constantly hear from frugality experts. But, replacing even just the light bulbs of your two or three most used lights in your house with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and help you to see a drop in your electric bill by $40 per light bulb over the course of its lifetime. CFLs use 75% less power than a standard light bulb and last up to six times longer too. While these bulbs are expensive, you don’t have to replace all the bulbs in your house. For example, when was the last time you turned on the lights in your formal living room? You can save on your electric bill by adding these innovative lights.

5. Purchase An Programmable Thermostat

Have you ever wondered why you fully heat your house while you are at work or while you are on vacation? If you had an automatic programmable thermostat installed in your home, you could set it to increase the temperature right before you got home from work in the winter and to decrease it right after you left in the morning. You can set it to do the opposite in the summer of course too which will help you save on your electric bill.

6. Monitor Your Energy Usage With Gadgets

An electricty usage monitor can help you find wasted power.Do you know how much energy you use by leaving your computer in standby mode? Have you ever wondered how much it actually costs you when your children leave their bedroom lights on while they are at school? You can find out the cost of all your energy usage with devices such as the “Kill A Watt” Electricity Usage Monitor that plugs into your electric box or even small gadgets that plug right into your walls and appliances. You can purchase Electricity Usage Monitors like this one for as little as $25 on Amazon. Knowing exactly how much something costs to run or leave on will make you think twice about leaving it running in the background or while you are away.

7. Wash Your Clothes In Cold Water

Heating water accounts for a large percentage of your energy usage. Switching from washing your clothes in hot water to cold water can save you over 40 cents per load. If you wash as many clothes as my family of four, then that can add up to some real savings over the course of a year that you save on your electric bill.

8. Turn Down Your Water Heater’s Temperature

Having an efficient Energy Star rated water heater can save you up to $300 on your electricity bill each year. Turning down the temperature on your water heater can also be an easy way to save you money on your electricity costs. Most hot water heater’s thermostats are set to 140 degrees. Most experts recommend that you turn your water heater’s thermostat down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

9. Check The Area Around Your Dryer Vent

My wife and I bought a new home that barely had anything other than a gaping hole in the wall where the dryer vent went out of the wall to the backyard. A cheap collar around the opening and the pipe was an easy fix to block the hot air of the house from escaping with our dryer lent into the yard.

10. Smooth Out Your Monthly Electric Bill

Most electricity companies allow you to smooth out your bill after they have twelve months of usage data built up on you and your family. While this will not exactly save you money, per se, it will help you budget your money better because each monthly payment will be the same. Some months you will pay more than the electricity that you are actually using, but in the summer and winter months when your usage is high, you will still be paying the same amount for your electricity. Your company probably has this program, but it may be called a fancy name. It is well worth investigating this option.

Did I miss any? What’s your favorite way to save money on electricity either in the winter or even all year around? Let me know in the comment section below.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and is currently pursuing his Certified Financial Planner credentials. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 497 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Henry @ TotallyMoney

Great tips Hank. I have probably tried most of them, but would like to try the energy monitoring gadget as it would really appeal to my competitiveness and it would make it easier to visualise the actual savings you make.
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Kathi

You for got one other energy saver that I use every year. by living alone I close off all doors to rooms I don’t use and put a towel or some other weather insulator at the bottom of the doors.

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Hank

Henry – You are ablsolutely right. I want to try an energy monitor so I can start charging my kids for leaving their lights on.
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JessicaD

I have heard that some libraries actually loan out energy monitors (KillAWatts) so that you don’t have to buy one! Might be worth checking your local library.

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Hank

That is a great tip, Jessica. I would have never thought of a library offering to loan it out. That would be an even better money saver! Thanks!
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N J Gill

Wear more, and warmer, clothes – always layer, to create warm pockets of air inside your clothes; use one of those blankets-with-arms in your favorite chair/couch sitting area in the evenings when reading or watching TV. Especially important – keep your feet warm!

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Ronnie

I plan to install a tankless water heater and a GOES energy management system.

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Leslie

Living in Canada, we know the affects winter has on heating bills. Hydro costs in some parts of this country have tripled in price over the past year and a half due to government making poor decisions. All of the tips you suggested are definitely great. Other energy saving tips are; keeping your furnace filter clean so that it works more efficiently; if possible offset heating by oil/gas/hydro by running a wood or pellet stove; upgrade your windows and/or make sure they are closing tightly, while budgeting towards window replacements there are lots of window draft products to help. Every little bit helps.

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Anthony

I always appreciate articles like this.

Strange thing though: I tend to see my winter bills drop, whereas my summertime bills are typically above average.
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Hank

Anthony,

Wow! That’s cool, but I wonder why though. Do you think that it is because of running your air conditioner too much in the summer? Do you try and freeze yourself with no heat in the winter?
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Anthony

LOL. Not quite. I keep my central HVAC unit (all electric) at 78 during the summer and 68 during the winter.
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Lily

The weatherstripping in my apartment proved to be a big problem this summer. It was letting out all of our cool air and letting in all of the neighborhood bugs. Glad we got some of this taken car of beofre colder weather. Thanks!

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Nelda

What a great thought. I would like to tell you thank you for sharing your thoughts. I will for sure +1 your site.
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Anaheim Electrical Power

The following are smart tips that focus on cutting your electric expense. These tips will aid in knocking your electric bill down so you can use the extra funds for something else.
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Steven Lupton

We have a basement that stays cold in the winter. Instead of using the A/C we just go downstairs. Also we chose carpet for the floor above our basement. Carpet provides some insulation to keep our basement cold.

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Las Vegas Electricians

Really these are great tips for money saving. I would recommended replace most used light bulbs with CFLs, because these bulbs save more electricity compare to other light bulbs. Mostly we use light bulbs in our daily life, sometimes we forget to off the light bulbs it cause these bulbs consume more electricity but CFLs not. So use of CFLs is beneficial for money saving.

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Marissa@2ndSkiesForex

I live in the tropics and we only have 2 seasons here, dry and wet seasons. But we have 2 months of summer where the weather is really hot. During these 2 months, our electricity bills would usually go higher and the cause of this is because the refrigerator usually works “harder” when the weather is hot. To save electricity during summer, we try our best not to open the refrigerator too often and only open it when necessary.
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Frugal Living

CFLs are most useful to save light energy. I also replaced all bulbs with CFLs. With this I saved much energy.

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Abe

Thanks for the tips. I’m looking into getting a new door frame, and forgot to take weather stripping into account. Since door sweeps are installed into pre-existing doors, do you have any energy saving suggestions for door installations? I’ve found a local place that makes custom door frames and will likely start working on it soon. I also like your attic solution for saving energy.

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Brilliant Finances

Great Tips!

For #4 I would only replace bulbs with CFL bulbs when they burn out. You have to weigh the investment cost too, as CFL bulbs do cost quite a bit more.
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towtruck light bar

Really these are great tips for money saving. I would recommended replace most used light bulbs with CFLs, because these bulbs save more electricity compare to other light bulbs

Reply

ritu khatun

Hi Ritu,
I truly liked the blog post that you wrote about electricity , electricity providers, energy etc [a popular post on that blog, and a couple of useful points that caught your attention].

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HVAC contractor Dallas

With the different expenses people experience everyday, especially during winter, it is really practical to practice ways of energy saving. These will not only help us lower electricity bills but will also assist in lowering the burning of fuels that lead to the formation of gas emissions that are capable of further damaging our atmosphere. These tips you have shared are really very helpful. Thank you.

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KimmyLikes2Save

Great article on reducing your electric bill Hank. I have a programmable electric baseboard heater where I can set it to go off automatically, or just turn it off when leaving my bedroom. Also, I keep my laserjet printer off when not in use and that makes a big difference. Thanks for the tips.

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Corinne

Many people leave a light on in dark areas of the house or the bathroom. How about using night lights? Of course, never jeopadize your safety by omitting the light you need to stay safe.

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Dave

I have gone for LED’s under the assumption these were the most energy efficient is that right ?

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Hank Coleman

I think that that’s definitely a great move, Dave.
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Wilbert Freimann

Great tips! If you have a central heating system it also helps to check your duct system every once and a while to make sure there are no leaks.

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Mark

Really great advice Hank. Most of these improvements are inexpensive and have very quick paybacks.

There is a momentous change taking place in the lighting industry. LEDs will very soon overtake CFLs in the marketplace. Prices for LEDs are dropping like a stone. The economics are already to the point where LEDs are the best way to go. You’ll have to do some shopping online to find those great deals however, but over the next year or two the big box retailers will have them at really affordable prices.

There are three other advantages to LEDs. The quality of light coming from LEDs is far superior to CFLs. It’s pure white light. The lifespan of LEDs is unbelievable. Quality LEDs will last a lifetime. Lastly, CFLs contain mercury. How many CFLs actually get recycled properly? They pose a big environmental problem.

The other energy improvement that is really cheap and has a super quick payback are the roof mounted solar (thermal) water heating systems. It’s simple technology that has a great track record and is very reliable. Do this in conjunction with a tankless water heater and your utility bills will shrink like crazy.

Cheers!

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forclosures

Dear HANK,
I liked what you said about But, there are ways that you can curb the cost of electricity, lower your heating costs, and save on your electric bill this winter. Below are ten easy and simple ways to keep the drafts out of your home and your wallet this winter while you save on your electric bill.
Continue this kind of articles because they are very good and useful, congratulations.
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Saksham Talwar

Free energy audits I think is something we should take advantage of. If they are providing it for free, why let the offer go? After all the money saved is the money earned!
Saksham Talwar recently posted..How to Save ElectricityMy Profile

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Kristofer Warner

The best thing is to use the appliances which consume very less electricity but really you have shared a great information for those who are in problem due to their high electricity bill.

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Kristofer Warner

We think Mark also shared a great idea of using LED ,,these are also the best way to save on electricity bills.

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