Lower winter utility bills? Yep — you sure can do that! There are a few practical things you need to try and you might see your bill drop, too.
The winter months can force your utility bill to slowly creep upward. And if it happens to be colder than usual, it can take an unexpected toll on your finances.
If you look over your budget, you can find the categories you can eliminate or reduce. You might have found ways to cut back on your groceries and other areas of spending. However, when you review the amount you spend on your utilities, you might feel you are stuck paying that amount.
Not so fast. You might be able to something about this.
- Get more: How to prepare your home for the winter
Negotiate for Lower Utility Rates
When it turns colder, those winter utility bills might start to creep back up again, affecting your bottom line. There are many things you can do to keep yourself warm inside, while keeping your costs down.
First off it is smart to see what you can do to negotiate down the rates. Believe it or not, it is possible to do this, but the problem runs in trying to know what to say and how to say it. One way you might be able to do this (which is free for you to use) is a site like BillCutterz.
The way it works is really simple, you send them your bills for your phone, internet, etc. They in set their expert negotiators to work on your behalf. If they find savings, you will see it on your next bill. This is done at absolutely no charge to you.
Now, if they do find savings, they will split that with you 50/50. So, if they can save you $10, then they get $5 and you save $5. You can read more about this service and how it works HERE.
Of course, if you want to negotiate on your own, that is always an option. However, there are more things you can do to lower your monthly expenses on these must-have items!
Add extra blankets on the bed
At night, turn down the thermostat so you don’t use as much energy heating your home. You can still stay warm by adding a couple of extra blankets on your bed. With a few extra layers keeping you warm, you can also avoid running the electric blanket.
Dress in a sweats or pant and then wear a t-shirt with a sweater or sweatshirt overtop of it. If you get too warm, just remove a layer. Getting cold? Add another layer. Don’t run to adjust the thermostat — just adjust your layers.
Use a programmable thermostat
While a programmable thermostat can be a bit more expensive, you can make back more than the cost over time. You can program yours to lower the temps while you are away at work automatically. You might even invest into a Nest thermostat, which learns your living habits and will adjust for you.
Either way, a programmable thermostat helps keep the temps in your home set at levels that make sense, depending upon wether you are home or away.
Lower your thermostat
If you can’t afford to purchase a programmable model, lower the temp on yours. Every time you drop 1 degree, you can save as much as 3% on your energy costs. You may hear that 72 is the ideal temp, but that doesn’t mean you must set your home at this same temperature. Try 68 (and then wear those layers).
Do not close doors
Contrary to what you may think, closing doors may not lower your bill. When interior doors are closed, the room is now under pressure as air flow is blocked. Any trapped air will not stay contained. It will find a way to escape.
As air is lost, it is replaced in an equal amount. This can actually increase the amount of air being drawn by is placed under pressure because airflow is now blocked. Air trapped in the pressurized bedroom, however, doesn’t stay contained. It will find ways to escape. Any air lost is replaced in an equal amount, which can increase the amount of air being drawn in, which can significantly increase your utility bills.
In addition, the replacement air comes through the chimney, water heater or furnace flue. This creates a steady draft in your home. And, since the air is not coming through your HVAC system, it is not filtered. (Source: Home Energy).
Close the drapes or blinds
Just as you do this in the summer to keep the heat out, you will do the same in the winter to keep your heat in. Closing your drapes will prevent the cold from coming into your home, especially if they include an insulating liner. You may want to update the drapes in your home to these types of curtains. Begin with the ones in the coldest rooms in your home first.
Change your furnace air filter
When your furnace runs efficiently, it saves you money. Part of this is by having a clean filter. Make sure you change your filter every 2 – 3 months (or as recommended by the manufacturer).
Always run the dishwasher with full loads
Make sure that your dishwasher is always completely full when you run it. It is much more efficient and cleans better when the racks are full.
Unplug appliances when not in use
Did you know that appliances still draw electricity when they are not in use? If you unplug that lamp or TV when you are not using them you can cut down on your utility bill.
Something as simple as leaving the television on when you are not in the room is wasting you (and the environment) precious electricity, which equals money. Just get into the habit of shutting everything of when you leave the room, you can begin to save money.
Adjust the Water
A simple way to reduce water consumption is to install low-flow shower heads. These use much less water. As a result, they also require less heat to warm the water.
You might also look at insulating your hot water heater and also reduce the temperature setting by 2 – 3 degrees. These can also lower your energy costs as you are not losing heat and you’ll probably not even notice the difference when you shower.
Insulate windows and doors
Take the time to make sure your doors and windows are well insulated. You might need to use caulk, weather stripping or even plastic coverings. Whatever you decide, do this before the cold weather moves in (you’ll get the added benefit of saving on your utilities before winter strikes).
Research energy providers
Some parts of the country allow consumers to use different energy providers. Companies such as North American Power can help you find a new company to provide your electricity. If you live within their service area, you can find an alternative energy provider, which can result in instant savings on your electric bill!
It is a simple change you can make and the only thing you will notice is a reduction on your energy bill! At this time, they only service the following locations: Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.