Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips for Conscientious Renters and Homeowners
What’s not to love about fall? In my humble opinion, it is the most wonderful time of the year. Pumpkin spice lattes, heavy wool socks, and curling up with a gigantic stack of books are just a few of the things I look forward to every time the leaves begin to change color and the air starts to cool.
But there is something I most definitely do not look forward to about the colder months—my high energy bills. I love cooking a slow simmering stew on my stovetop and being cozy and warm in my well-lit home, but the cost is a bit of a blow to the bank account.
So last year during the chilly season, in hopes of having more cash for copious amounts of books and specialty coffee beverages, I came up with a plan to save big on my energy bill—and it worked! I made a few small changes around my home and I noticed a dramatic decrease in my energy consumption and costs. If you too want to see savings during the colder months, I’m going to share my best fall and winter energy-saving tips for homeowners and apartment dwellers alike.
Simple Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips That Help You Save Big
Something I learned when doing research for my energy-saving plan last year is that you really don’t need to take drastic measures to see a difference in your energy bill. Rather, it’s the culmination of a bunch of little things that add up to big savings. While each of the following tips is effective in its own right, if you do them all consistently you’ll notice your energy bill decrease significantly. Now let’s get to the good stuff!
#1 Fall Furnace Servicing is a Must
Considering that heating costs account for nearly 65% of your energy bill, making sure your furnace is up to snuff is critical for saving energy this winter. Before you start it up for the season, it is a good idea to have an experienced professional do a complete fall servicing to make sure everything is running optimally. A tired, dirty furnace has to work harder and expend more energy to heat your home or apartment.
A good cleaning, filter change, and maybe a few minor repairs are typically all that is needed in order for your furnace to run smoothly. Also, if you have a filter, be sure to clean it at least every two months to keep airflow optimal.
#2 Weatherstrip Your Windows and Doors
Gaps and improper seals on windows and doors can let a lot of chilly autumn and winter air into your home, putting a strain on your furnace to work even harder to heat your place. If this is the case, energy is literally slipping through the cracks.
Weatherstripping prevents heat loss by sealing off these gaps and cracks and keeping the toasty warm air where it belongs. For an easy-to-install, hassle-free, and effective option, weatherstripping tape is your best bet. After you perform a visual inspection of key areas in your home, measure the perimeter of leaky windows and add up your measurements to figure out how much tape you’ll need. Even though it’s a bit of work, weatherstripping alone can actually reduce your energy bills by as much as 20%, so it’s totally worth the effort.
#3 Be Smart in the Kitchen
Who doesn’t love the aroma of slowly simmered fall and winter comfort food? The next time you turn on the stove to roast some veggies or make a stew, think of ways to make the most of the energy you are already using. Batch cooking is something I do a lot of in the fall and winter to cut down on how much I use the stove.
Here are a few other worthwhile energy-saving cooking tips for you to implement this fall and winter:
- Invest in an electric kettle for tea and only boil the precise amount of water you need
- Use lids on pots to retain heat and speed up cooking time
- Don’t line your oven with tin foil as it can reduce hot air flow and increase cooking times
- Use the oven light to peek at your food instead of opening the oven door
#4 Control the Temperature Wisely
Snuggling up in bed under heavy blankets is one of my favorite things about fall and winter. But before I hit the sack, I turn down my thermostat 10 to 15 degrees. This simple act, if done every day, can save you up to 10% on your heating bill annually. If you have a programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat you can preset temperatures so it does it all automatically. Sure, you may need a few extra blankets on your bed or a nice cozy pair of flannel pajamas, but it’s well worth it. Plus, sleeping in a cool environment can actually improve the quality of your sleep!
#5 Switch to LED Lighting
As we approach the winter, the days get shorter, meaning we use more energy on lighting. Because of this, fall is a great time to replace inefficient incandescent bulbs with energy-saving LEDs. Considering that LED lighting uses 75% less energy than incandescents and is five times more efficient than fluorescent bulbs, it’s worth paying a little extra and making the switch.
It’s also wise to switch up your holiday lighting to LED. Consider that it costs about $10 to power regular old incandescent lights on a 6-ft Christmas tree for 12 hours a day for the holiday season. Comparatively, with LEDs, the same tree would cost less than $0.25 to power each day. And as a bonus, LEDs are much cooler than regular holiday lights so there is a reduced risk of fire.
#6 Third-Party Energy Suppliers Offer Competitive, Fixed Energy Rates
Of course, if you live in a state that offers deregulated electricity there is another simple way to avoid seasonal fluctuations in your energy bill. Switching to a third-party energy supplier that offers fixed rates allows you to lock down your energy bill and receive a competitive price.
Because third-party energy suppliers buy up electricity from plants in bulk ahead of production, they get a better bang for their buck. In turn, they are able to offer you a fixed rate. This differs from the way your local utility typically operates—depending on your state, the utility may change the rate every month. In other states, utilities actually adjust rates after the fact if their costs were higher than expected.
If you do switch to a third-party energy supplier, your electricity will still be delivered to you through your current utility—they just won’t be the ones selling it to you. As such, making the switch is simple and smooth and you won’t experience a disruption in service.
Knowing that your energy costs will be consistent all year round makes it much easier for you to get a handle on your budget, no matter the season. And if you are as concerned about your carbon footprint as you are your budget, you can even purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to ensure that a certain amount of green energy from sources like solar and wind is fed into the grid to offset your energy consumption. Doing these two things and implementing my other tips for fall and winter energy savings is sure to put you in good financial shape and significantly reduce your carbon emissions this fall and winter. Now if that doesn’t warrant a pumpkin spice latte and few new books, I don’t know what does.
At Liberty Power, we know it is possible to cut down on energy costs and consumption, even in the cold fall and winter months. That’s why we offer fixed-rate energy plans and RECs that allow you to contribute to a healthier planet while being kind to your wallet. Reach out to us to make the switch today.