It's no surprise to hear that energy costs are on the rise everywhere. Unfortunately, the way we use energy in our everyday lives has dramatic consequences. The most obvious result of high energy use is the way it affects your budget. With the average price of 13.30 cents per kilowatt hour across the country – an increase of 0.7% over the previous year – most households need to be mindful of their energy consumption this winter. Aside from the financial aspect, energy use can also significantly affect the environment. As you may know, a major part of the energy you consume is generated using fossil fuels – coal and natural gas essentially – and they are not infinite resources. It’s time to consider safe alternatives that don’t break the bank.
If you're looking for ways to reduce your energy bills this season, we can help. Check out these six ideas on how you can save money on your utility bills this winter.
How To Reduce Your Energy Bills In Winter
Your Appliances SUCK
Older household appliances, which many of us have, consume a lot more energy compared to newer models. If you’re considering an upgrade, research models with an energy star rating. Appliances that are Energy Star certified will use anywhere from 10% - 50% less energy than an appliance that is not certified. Energy Star certified appliances used to cost more than their energy guzzling counterparts, but as the demand grew for more energy conscious alternatives, prices dropped. This is good news if you're shopping for a new furnace. For more info on Energy Star certified appliances, check out this .pdf from energystar.gov.
Our Ancestors Were Right: Fire Is The Answer
There is something deeply comforting about sitting in front of a fire. Psychologists suspect it’s a learned behavior that has evolved throughout history. Fire has provided a source of heat and light for our ancestors, as well a form of protection from wild animals. While you don’t need to rely on a burning fire to protect your family from wildlife anymore, you can still use fireplaces, wood heaters and even coal stoves to help heat your home. A small company has even started to design candle-powered heating systems that can keep any room warm without relying on electricity at all! Want to start small? Check out these energy-efficient heaters that mimic the look of a roaring fire:
Swap Cold Drinks For Hot Ones
It goes without saying that hot drinks will warm you from the inside out. In fact, one of my favorite past times is ice skating, preferably with my hands wrapped around a cup of tasty hot cocoa.
While we're not suggesting you give up cold drinks in every instance (I, for one, don't plan on giving up a cold beer with my steak dinner any time soon), there are instances where a swap-out makes perfect sense. Hot coffee in place of iced; warm apple cider on a crisp fall walk; the aforementioned hot cocoa at the skating rink (or on the slopes) and even warm, spicer cocktails for special occasions.
How's this going to save you money on your utility bills? No idea. But we'd be remiss if we didn't include another way to warm up during the cold winter months.
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Many parts of the country go through a deep freeze before other parts do, and some parts don't feel it at all (we're looking at you, Florida). If you're feeling the chill, consider light layers of clothes for optimal warmth. A tee under a henley under a jacket with a removable lining, for example. You'll insulate your body heat while still being able to move about easily, and you'll be able to peel off the layers if you find yourself getting too warm.
If you're staying in and want to get cozy, lower the thermostat to an energy-saving 68 degrees. Wrap yourself in a thick blanket and pull on a pair of wool socks. Chunky knit blankets are all the rage these days, and if you're crafty, you can even knit one yourself!
Use A Humidifier
If your skin is itchy, throat is scratchy and / or you're getting shocked by static electricity, chances are the air in your home is just too dry and could probably benefit from a humidifier.
A humidifier will help to keep the air warm, thereby allowing you to lower the thermostat, helping to reduce your energy costs. For example, a home heated at 68 degrees with 40% humidity is equivalent to a home heated at 74 degrees at 20% humidity. Setting your thermostat back by as little as three degrees can reduce annual heating bills by as much as 5%!
A whole home humidifier will help to improve the air quality in your home, ultimately helping with sinus problems and respiratory issues. Pets and plants will benefit from a whole home humidifier, too.
Energystar.gov has more info on what you can expect to save on your energy bill by utilizing a humidifier.
Poorly insulated windows allow cold air in and completely hinder your efforts to keep the house warm and energy efficient. We understand that installing new windows aren't on everyone's budget this year, but you can add an extra layer of insulation by using weatherstripping or window film you install yourself.
By the way, did you know that many states, if not all, offer weatherization assistance? Nearly 20–30 million families in the US qualify for weatherization assistance, with income guidelines being a primary factor when it comes to acceptance into the program. States also give preferential consideration to:
To see if you qualify for weatherization assistance, check out the deets at energy.gov.
Staying warm in winter without skyrocketing our energy bills is a challenge for many of us, but we hope the above tips & tricks help you to manage your energy costs this winter. And if you're a business owner, umcsolutions.com has some great advice for helping your business save money on energy bills, too.