It's a fact we don't always want to accept. Colder weather equals higher energy bills.
Here are some tips to help you save electricity and money when winter weather moves in to South Texas.
- Prevention. The best way to deal with high bills is to prevent them. Use SmartHub to monitor your electric use. This tool contains helpful weather data and allows you to compare present use to previous use in the same months, which are most likely to have similar weather.
- Seal Your Home. Seal any gaps that create drafts in your home, and make sure you have adequate insulation. If you live in a pier and beam home or a mobile home, make sure there is insulation under the floor and proper skirting.
- Heating. Keep your heater set at the Department of Energy recommended 68 degrees when you are home, or lower. If you can turn it even lower, do so: every degree you drop the setting will save you money. When you are away from home for several hours or during the work day, turn your thermostat down so you aren't heating an empty house. New smart thermostats make it easier than ever to manage the temperature in your home, some even from your mobile phone!
- No Space Heaters. Avoid using space heaters. They are generally inefficient. The average space heater costs about 15 cents an hour in electricity to operate. That doesn't sound like much, but if you use a single space heater throughout the month, it could add $108 to your bill. If you have a home heating system, it is much more efficient to use than space heaters in individual rooms. If you have to use a space heater, limit it to one room and only use it while you are in the room.
- Avoid Extra Work for Your Water Heater. Water heaters are sometimes located outside of a home or along an outside wall. If that is the case in your home, your water heater is also having to work overtime to keep the water in the tank warm. Consider steps you can take to prevent the water heater from having to work against the cold to keep water in the tank warm. You may want to get a water heater blanket or put your water heater on a timer, so it only heats the water during times when you normally need hot water.
- Fireplace. If your home has a fireplace, be sure to keep the damper closed when not in use. Wood-burning fireplaces are actually an inefficient method for heating your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fireplace drafts pull warm air up the chimney, which causes other rooms to cool. So if you use central heat while burning wood in a fireplace, it forces your heater to work harder to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the house.
- Window Coverings. Keep drapes and blinds open during the day to allow solar heat to warm your home and close them at night to seal the warmth in.
- Ceiling Fans. Change the setting on your ceiling fan to clockwise. This creates an updraft that pulls cold air up and distributes warm air in the room more evenly.