Winter Utility Bill Woes

By Mark J. Donovan

July 1, 2013 3 min read

There are a number of simple steps you can take to save money on utility bills during the winter months. By simply turning down the temperature of your home thermostat a couple of degrees and wearing slightly warmer clothes, you can shave off 5 percent or more on your winter home-heating bills. Installing programmable thermostats can save additional money by configuring the heat to turn to a comfortable temperature only when you're at home. Most programmable thermostats have day and evening settings, as well as weekday and weekend settings, to maximize utility-bill savings.

If you have ceiling fans, flick a switch to have the blades turn opposite of how they do in the summer months. This simple task can force warm air down into the living area of the home/rooms during the winter months. Remember, warm air rises. By changing the rotation of the fan blades you will push the warm air downward.

If you have a hot air heating system, make sure to change the air filter every two to three months. Clogged air filters make it harder for the heating system to pump warm air throughout the home. Also, regardless of what type of heating system you have, it should be annually inspected and serviced by a licensed heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician. This way they can make sure it is operating safely and efficiently.

Another way to save money on utility bills is to make sure the exterior doors and windows are well-insulated and caulked. If necessary, add door and window weatherstripping. These simple steps can dramatically reduce cold drafts within the home and lower monthly utility bills.

Also, make sure that your attic is properly insulated and that there is an attic cover over the attic ladder. These ladders are notorious for letting warm air from the living areas of the home escape into the attic.

In terms of saving money on electric utility bills, use compact fluorescent light bulbs wherever possible. In addition, put exterior lights on timers so that they automatically shut off after being activated. Investing in new home appliances with Energy Star ratings can dramatically lower electric bills; they typically use 20 to 30 percent less energy than their older counterparts.

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