Monday, December 26, 2011

How to Lower Your Winter Utility Bill

Last month we were heating our house primarily via space heaters because we hadn't gotten our wood stove yet. I was so nervous about getting the electric bill, but when it came I was relieved to discover it was only $35!

Since our move, our electric bill has been:

September (Partial month)        $14
October                                            $25
November                                       $35

While I was researching how to best use our space heaters, I learned a lot of electric saving information so I thought I would share some with you! My information comes mostly from Mr. Electricity's website. He really knows his stuff!

Here are some great ways to save on your winter utility bill:

  • Keep your house as cool as you can take it.

  • Turn down your thermostat when you aren't home. Contrary to what some say, it IS cheaper to reheat your house right before or when you come home than it is to keep it at the warmer temperature all day long.
  • Wear lots of clothes. When we kept our house at 50-60 degrees, I wore two layers of clothes as my daily uniform because I really prefer to be warm.  

  • Unplug items when not in use. Did you know that just having something plugged in uses electricity? Its called a phantom charge. Additionally, many electrical items have a little (often red) light that stays on any time the item is plugged in. Those little lights use electricity too! Unplugging appliances when not in use can cut your electricity bill by up to 10%!

  • Turn off the lights, fans, radios, TVs, etc when no one using them. Train yourself and your family to remember to turn things off.

  • Think before turning something on. Do you really need to turn on the light when its sunny out or would opening the blinds serve the same function?

  • Heat your body instead of the whole house. Electric blankets, even if they aren't the new energy efficient kind, ARE very energy efficient because they only heat you--not the whole room/house. They also make electric rugs and other interesting money saving items.

  • Put a rug on those bare floors. This serves as insulation and just FEELS warmer than bare floors. Even carpeted floors can use the added insulation of an extra rug in winter.

  • Winterize like a mad person. Installing weather stripping around doors and windows, caulking anywhere there's a crack, insulating around exterior wall outlets  . . .this all saves money!

  • Put a jacket on that hot water heater! When it breaks consider an on-demand water heater, solar water heater or another more energy efficient option.

  • Hang thick curtains. I'm currently sewing some thermal curtains which I will show you soon, but if you want to get a head start making your own, here's how!

  • Heat just rooms you use. If you have central heat, closing off vents to rooms can adversely affect how your system runs. Therefore, you may want to set your central heat to a very low temp and then use space heaters, a fireplace or something else to keep just those rooms you use toastier.

  • Wash your clothes in only cold water. I always keep the hot water to my washer turned completely off. That way no one can even accidentally run a load with warm or hot water. Heating all that water just for laundry is COSTLY! The best way to avoid needing warm water for washing is to use liquid laundry soap because powdered soap can have a harder time breaking down in cold water. Here's a recipe for how to make your own liquid laundry soap for about a penny a load.

    • Consider giving up your dryer. We have friends with a family of six, who told me when they started hanging out their clothes, their utility bill was $100/month cheaper. I talked to them again recently and they said they went back to using the dryer for one month and sure enough, their bill went back up $100!

      •  Evaluate your energy sucking appliances and figure out how to cut their use or replace them. For example, some people will tell you that it is cheaper to use the dishwasher than to wash dishes by hand. I personally haven't found this to be true, but because there are so many factors that go into appliance usage, you have to pay attention and figure it out for yourself. For example, do you pre-rinse? Do you hear the hot water heater kicking on more when you run the dishwasher? Can you try one method of doing something for a month and see if you notice a difference in cost?

        •  Understand your electric bill. Some companies charge more per kWh at peak hours and less at non-peak hours. If you know those hours and can focus your electrical use then, it could save you big! Our non-peak hours make electricity almost half price! That's a bargain!

        What's your best utility saving tip? How have you or will you make reductions in your utility bill?

            1 comment:

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