Cut Your Energy Bills this Winter

Cut Your Energy Bills this Winter

As winter nears and the nights get colder and colder, you’re probably dreading the arrival of your energy bill. Driving that bill down, just requires taking a few steps to make your home more efficient. By spending a little now, you can keep yourself from losing a lot later when energy prices rise.

Bottom line, getting rid of wasteful habits will cut your energy bill. First things first, don’t leave lights on. Install a motion-sensing light switch. Next, unplug chargers and appliances when not in use. If this is too much of a bother, there are power strips available that turn off automatically when appliances aren’t in use.

When washing your hands or soaking pans in the kitchen, turn hot water taps up to full heat rather than halfway to ensure that the hot water gets to you quickly. If you turn the taps up only halfway, hot and cold water mix in the pipes, and as a result it takes much longer for the water to arrive at the temperature you want it. In the meantime, all you’ve done is warm up the pipes.

Now let’s discuss how you do your laundry. Clothes dryers are a major energy hog in the house. But if your home is well sealed and insulated, fabrics will dry quickly hanging on a rack or indoor line.

Experts say, another really good idea is to call your energy company and arrange to get a home energy audit. This will determine how efficient your house is and where you can make improvements. You may already know whether your furnace is working poorly, or you may be aware of drafts near your front door, but other major sources of heat loss are much harder to identify.

Problems can include poorly insulated walls or cold flows from direct openings to the outdoors in your attic or other hard-to-access spaces. Certified raters will track these problems down and propose solutions. If you’re going to be comprehensive about it, the $300 to $500 for a home energy audit is money well spent.

The energy audit will provide you with a HERS rating of your home. This index ranges from zero to over 150, with the standard home hitting about 100. While this number helps give you a sense of where your house stands, the real benefits come from the detective work done during the audit to trace exactly where your house is wasting energy. For any audit, make sure your rater walks through your home, conducts a blower door test (which measures how much air your home leaks), tests your ducts, checks out your furnace and identifies colds spots and the locations of air leaks. Trust me, you will recoup the money that you spend on the energy audit if you follow the recommendations. In a few months, your home will be a tight, energy efficient home.


  1. one
    Comment by Steve: Dec 21, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    The easiest way to make your home more energy efficient is to seal any air leaks, and one that is often overlooked is the bathroom ventilation fan and exhaust vent. The back-draft flap these units come with do a very poor job of stopping leaks. To address this issue, I use a replacement insert fan from the Larson Fan Company (online). Their fans has a true damper built in, that does a great job in keeping warm air in during the winter and hot, humid air out in the summer. This product has reduced my annual energy bills by over ten percent. It saves the most when air conditioning is being used.

  2. two
    Comment by MikeJohnson: Feb 7, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    I have noticed during these winter months my energy bill has been a little higher than I would like. I have been looking for ways to reduce my costs. Steve, thanks for your additional feedback. I may consider changing out my bathroom ventilation unit. I am definitely about to check for leaks though. My bathroom does seem to be much cooler than the rest of the house.

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