Ways to Beat Back Rising Energy Costs This Winter

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With retail prices for energy at or near multiyear highs in the US, here are twelve tips to help you save on your energy costs this winter.

“As we head into the winter of 2021–22, retail prices for energy are at or near multiyear highs in the United States. The high prices follow changes to energy supply and demand patterns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect that households across the United States will spend more on energy this winter compared with the past several winters because of these higher energy prices and because we assume a slightly colder winter than last year in much of the United States.”

Short-Term Energy Outlook, December 7, 2021, U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

Not to worry.  We are here with twelve tips to help you save on your energy costs this winter.  

  1. Get the most out of the sun.  There might be less of it in the winter, but it is still out there.  Open blinds, shades, or curtains on sunny days to take advantage of the natural warmth the sun generates.  Once it starts to dip toward the horizon, close things back up to capture the heat and keep out the cold.  
  2. Bundle up.  Layer clothing so you can easily adjust what you are wearing as you move from colder to warmer parts of your home.  Some cozy socks will keep both your feet and the rest of your body warm.  Keep throw blankets around for cuddling up while reading, listening to music, or watching programs.  Add an extra cover or two to your bed so you can turn down your thermostat while you sleep. 
  3. Audit your home energy system.  Many oil and gas providers offer home energy audits for free.  They can identify issues, like leaky faucets, gaps and cracks, and inefficient lightbulbs, that can drive up energy usage.  
  4. Use candles.  No, not to light the room (although that could work).  Hold a lit candle near your windows.  If the flame flickers, you could have an air leak.  Some inexpensive caulking and weather stripping should help you save on your heating bill. 
  5. Swap out any inefficient lightbulbs.  LEDs use about 75 percent less energy and last about 25 times longer than older incandescent bulbs.
  6. Turn down the thermostat.  You can save a much as 10% a year if you drop your thermostat down an average of eight hours a day.  Heading out for the day or weekend?  Turn down the thermostat.  To make it easy, invest in a smart thermostat that you can easily program from your phone.
  7. Rearrange your furniture.  If you have pieces placed in front of heating vents or units, they’re probably blocking the flow of air making your heating system work harder to keep the space warm.  A general rule of thumb is to keep furniture at least two feet away from any vents.  
  8. Cool down your laundry.  Today’s detergents work just as well with the cold setting on your washer.  
  9. Shut the doors to unused rooms.  There is no need to heat spaces you aren’t using regularly.  Also, close the door when you leave a room.  With the door shut, the heat stays in the room and your HVAC system doesn’t have to do as much work.
  10. Do more cooking and baking at home.  The heat from your stove or oven will help warm your kitchen.  Think about making comforting foods like soups and stews.  Once you are done, keep the oven door a crack to let the heat continue to warm your kitchen.
  11. Eliminate phantom energy loads.  As long as they are plugged in, all electronic devices continue to draw power even when they are not in use.  Plugging related electronics like your TV, cable box, and DVD player into a single power strip enables you to shut them all off when you are not using them.  Also, unplug phones etc. as soon as the battery is fully charged as well as any remote charging stations. If you are leaving your computer for more than a few minutes, enable the power-save or sleep mode.  The screensaver mode does not save energy.
  12. Turn on the ceiling fan.  But first reverse the direction to clockwise to create an updraft and circulate warm air around the room.   Click here to learn how to do that. 

All of these tips are either no or low cost and some of them are fun, like making cookies and cozying up on the couch with a nice warm blanket.  Stay warm everyone!