Get Ready, Cut Your Winter Utility BillsCanadians living in Ontario, and probably other provinces as well, are experiencing almost 20% increases in their hydro rates this fall! What a shock we will all get this winter when the full impact of these increases are going to be felt! If you ran your air conditioner this summer, you already received one shock, you do not need another. It is time to think about how we can reduce our utility bills , including  both electricity and heating costs.

This post was originally written at the beginning of October. If you have not thought about taking some steps to prepare your home for the winter season, now is the time to do so. Also in the spring some of these same steps apply if you are concerned about high air conditioning costs associated with summer time heat waves. Even in mid March in southern California, temperatures reach into the 90’s . Many people start turning on their air conditioning one day and then their heating systems the next day when a cold front blows through.

Winter Utility Bills

Here is a quick list of energy saving steps you can take to control your utility costs during the winter:

  • Invest in a programmable thermostat
  • Lower the temperature
  • Add storm windows
  • Add plastic coverings over your windows
  • Invest in a heat detector
  • Add insulation to your attic
  • Caulk all of your windows and doors
  • Add weather stripping around doors and windows
  • Take advantage of lower electricity rates at night
  • Close off rooms, be careful of frozen water pipes
  • Keep your furnace clean with an annual maintenance checkup
  • Replace the filter

More Suggestions

  • Upgrade to an energy star furnace and convert to a DC motor
  • Switch to cold water clothes washing
  • Only wash when you have a full load
  • Keep cold air return vents clean and unobstructed by furniture
  • Check basement windows to make sure the are good seals around the windows
  • Add insulation to basement walls
  • Open drapes on sunny days
  • Close drapes at night to hold the heat in
  • Plug gaps around pipes that go through walls
  • Install low flow shower heads
  • Always fill your dishwasher to run at a full load
  • Program your dishwasher to run at night when rates are low
  • Program your clothes  dryer to run at night as well
  • Clean the filter prior to every use
  • Turn your heat off in the garage
  • Close the damper on wood fire places
  • Convert a wood fireplace to gas
  • Fans will push heated air from the fireplace to the rest of the room
  • Switch to high energy water heaters
  • Cook with a microwave oven, electric frying pans, and toaster ovens
  • Use a slow cooker to cook your food
  • Use photo cell timers or even better motion sensor timers to turn lights on
  • Invest in high efficiency appliances
  • Run your winter car heater during lower rate time frames
  • Convert your lights to low energy fluorescent bulbs
  • Use timers and dimmer to reduce energy
  • Freezers can be large users of energy, keep them full or downsize
  • Replace large volume toilets with more efficient devices

Winter Utility Bills – Increases

In the US, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that home heating oil, natural gas, and electricity will cost 2% to 11% more this winter than last. Getting your home prepped for the season is crucial. Canadian homeowners are being hit with a 20 % increase this fall.

Many new devices  link to the Internet that let you adjust the temperature remotely on your thermostat if your are going to be late getting home.

Say you’re stuck late at work. Go online with your iPhone or smart phone and tell the system to stay at 60° F  of 18C for a few hours longer, thus saving even more. Use your iPad, iPhone or iPod to reset your temperature of your home, start your meal cooking etc.

Many people do not pay attention to their energy costs. However with gas prices going up, hydro rates increasing and heating oil increasing, it is time for all of us to take note. Money you save on energy can be used for something else. On a $2000 annual bill for electricity, saving 10% means you have $200 to spend on something else. If you follow the list we mentioned above, you can easily save 10% on your annual energy costs!

Turn down the Thermostat

Turning down the thermostat saves heating fuel usage and also electricity because your furnace is not running as often. You save twice in this example! The same goes for plugging gaps around windows and doors.

One of the big complaints around our family is the drafts that we feel during the winter. This seems to occur especially just before the furnace comes on. Cooler air is sinking to the lowest point and if you are in the middle of one of these places, you are going to feel cold. Consider running you fan on low to force a continuous circulation of air that stays at a constant temperature.

Another consideration is to invest in a heating blanket for your bed or for even lounging around the house watching TV. Some people would never consider this approach. However you can leave the rest of the home cool and still be toasty warm under the blanket.

Hopefully this post will help you save some money as we try to do on every post on this site. Let us know of your personal ideas about reducing your energy costs for this winter and next summer as well. Note we will delete spam comments.

For more energy saving ideas, click here.

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