We're quickly approaching the holiday season, and if you're not ready you'll find yourself with high energy bills as well as high credit card payments!
Right now, there's a predicted 9%-13% increase in heating cost for the average home this winter. And that's not even considering the ostentatious yard displays. If you're the type to have your entire home decorated in enough lights to help land a plane through a blizzard, you're looking at even higher costs. But don't worry; the holiday spirit is still strong!
If you keep reading, you'll find some advice on how to keep your energy bill low.
1. Deck the Halls with LEDs, Not Normal Light bulbs
There are very few houses that don't put up at least one colorful display of lights. Many home owners wrap their own home in strand upon strand of colorful bulbs. All those lights can add up, however.
If you use LED lights rather than the traditional style lights, you'll find that they use 90% less energy. If you're careful and properly maintain them, they can last as many as 40 holiday seasons. Let's face it, traditional bulbs are simply energy hogs. It's not uncommon for normal holiday lights to run for 12 straight hours (all through the night) and 40 straight days (one month plus one week). You could easily be spending around $10 US per string. LED C-9 lights? Those will cost you just a tiny bit over a quarter.
In point of fact, if all the holiday light strings that were sold this past year were ENERGY STAR certified, that could well save Americans $45 million.
You can also save around 20% on your heating costs by taking a few simple steps; caulking windows and sealing leaks under doors or around chimneys that might cause heat to escape your home.
2. Plug Leaks Quickly
Leaving leaks unplugged is like throwing your money straight out of the window. Into a fire. A fire that is somehow cold and therefore leaves your home even colder than it was before. The simple truth is that most homes lose a large percentage of heat to leaks.
The steps to fix this are rather simple. You plug the leaks. Caulking windows can help, as can sealing around any recessed lighting or fireplaces. You can also slide draft guards under your doorways.
3. Properly Maintain Your HVAC System
It can be easy to forget but change your filters on a regular basis. If your furnace is dirty, the air flow will slow down. It might even stop completely. This can force your furnace to work harder to produce the same amount of heat in your home. At best, this simply raises your heating bill. At worst, it can break your furnace.
Don't forget to call in for a winter tune-up. Tuning up any machine helps make it run more efficiently, and the same is true of your heating and cooling system. If you're unsure of where to find a good contractor to perform the tune-up, consider checking the ENERGY STAR website maintained by the U.S. government.
4. Let Your Thermostat Do The Work
If your home is empty, you're paying good money to keep your furniture warm. If you're not certain you need to be spending money on that, you might consider installing a programmable thermostat. This machine can turn itself on and off on a schedule, allowing you to set it for colder temperatures when you sleep or if you're outside of the home.
If it seems like an annoyance to program a thermostat, either due to tech incompetence or an irregular schedule, you might consider a "smart thermostat". These machines allow you to change your settings no matter where you are, and the fancier ones even learn your behavior patterns.
If you use it strategically, you can easily save $180 or more each year.
If you can't get a new thermostat for some reason, consider simply lowering your thermostat a bit. Even just one degree lower for your "default temperature", and you can reduce heating costs by around 1%-3%. If you want to cut costs alongside temperature then try a site that’s great for energy comparison.
5. Utilize the Sun
It may feel as if the sun has forsaken you when the winter comes around, but the truth is that the sun is even more important on shorter winter days.
Try simply opening the curtains so the sun can come in through the windows. You'll be amazed at how beneficial this can be.