Even with all the fun outdoor activities winter has to offer, many people dread the season for one reason. The heating bill. However, don’t despair, because here are eight ways to reduce your electricity bill for good:
- “Sweep” Nightly for Running Electronics
This seems like a very obvious piece of advice, and it’s usually the first thing people think of when they decide they want to lower their energy bills. It also may seem like it wouldn’t make that much difference. However, running a compact fluorescent lightbulb at night will add up to $9 over the course of a year, while conventional lightbulbs wind up costing $21 extra a year if run through the night. Again, these seem like inconsequential numbers, but if five conventional light bulbs get left on every night, it adds up to over $100 a year.
A large ceiling fan on high will add up to $35 over the course of the year if it runs every night, but during the winter it can actually be more efficient to let them go. Since hot air rises, a ceiling fan can redirect the hot air back down towards you.
- Make Sure Your Water Heater is Set at 120° and Turns off at Night
Heating water accounts for about 15% of residential electricity bills. If set to a higher temperature like 140°, you will lose “standby heat” which happens because the heater is hot than the rest of the room it is in and so it will exchange heat with the colder room. Wrapping your water heater in an insulating sheathe will help, as will turning the temperature down to 120°. Turning it down when you go on vacation will also help. Water heaters can lose $36 to $61 a year from lost heat, and heating up a new tank of water can cost more than $400.
They can also be programmed to shut off at night.
- Change Furnace Filters Often or Get a Permanent One
When furnace filters don’t get changed often clog and make it more difficult for the furnace to draw in air which will cause the furnace to work harder. That will use more energy and drive your bill up.
Permanent filters are much more economically and mechanically friendly than replaceable ones. People often procrastinate when they need to get a new filter, but if it’s clogged with dirt, it can actually harm the heater itself and require an expensive replacement.
- Ensure There are No Cracks and Get Draft Guards
Cracks where air can escape through the walls or windows can add up to a whole lot of escaped heat and will also make your home less comfortable. If you have areas of your home that are impossible to heat or cool, it’s likely that you need some caulk or expanding foam to seal up the walls. Check around windows and door frames, and around the holes where pipes enter your home. Also, make sure to inspect where the frame of the house meets up with the concrete of the basement.
- Check your Meter
If you know that you home is well-sealed and you always turn off the lights, but still feel you’re being charged too much, it may be your meter. If the electricity use on the meter is less than what is on your bill, you are being overcharged. If the amount on your meter matches your bill, you still might be getting overcharged if the meter is not reading correctly. Transfer Electric can make sure your meter is reading correctly and will replace it if needed.
- Get a Programmable Thermostat
These can be set to automatically lower the heat when no one is home and raise it when people will be there. Installing one can save $180 a year with the right programming and they are cheaper to install than they used to be.
- Use the Window Shades
North-facing windows get the least light, so even though it may seem that it won’t make much of a difference, it really can stop some temperature transfer between the house and outside. Even better is plastic window covering. When it’s sunny, make sure south-facing windows have their curtains open, since south-facing windows are exposed to the most sunlight.
- Get an Energy Audit
An audit is the best way to find out why your electrical bills are what they are. An audit will tell you where your home or business is losing energy and how you can fix those problems to make your home or business more efficient. A residential electrician can examine your home and electricity usage to determine if you are paying too much. They will examine your insulation, check for air leaks with a blower door test, check the ductwork and furnace, and even use an infrared camera to look at the distribution of heat in your building. Getting an energy audit is the best way to save money on your heating bill this winter in Ontario.
Each of these methods only makes a little bit of a difference. Add them all together, though, and you could start saving some serious money.
Photo Credit- Top photo by Axio