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How to Lower Your Utility Bill in Winter (23 Tips)

December 1, 2021

Winter came, stayed longer than you expected, and suddenly your utility bill got out of hand. Between heating the house and keeping the holiday decorations up, you probably didn't realize just how much money it would take to illuminate your apartment and keep your place toasty warm.

There are some innovative ways you can lower your utility bill, but you also need to know if your place is energy efficient. Start by checking out Energy Star for step-by-step directions on how to assess your home's energy efficiency.

Once you know how efficient you really are, it's time to get serious about slashing that utility bill. We've put together a few steps you could take to prevent your bill from upsetting your wallet. Follow these 11 tips for lowering your utility bill this winter.

1. Let the sun warm you up.

Instead of turning on the heat every time there's a chill in the air, let the natural light heat up your home during the day. Open up your curtains and let in as much light as possible. The opposite holds true in the evening. When dusk settles in and the sun sets, close your shutters and curtains to hold in the warmth.

2. Dress up, not down.

Dressing up in cozy sweaters, layers, and thick socks is among the easiest ways to stay warm during winter. Remember a warm, wool hat also traps your body’s own heat. However, dressing warmly isn't just for going outdoors for the snow; it's also a win for staying indoors and making the most of your body heat.

For additional warmth, you can also dress your house up! Pile some pillows and a blanket on that couch in front of the TV, and throw a rug on the floor for extra insulation to keep your feet warm.

3. Play around with your thermostat settings.

Are you overheating your apartment or house? Play around with the thermostat and try to find a lower setting than what you're accustomed to. Who knows? You may be perfectly content when your thermostat is at a lower setting, and the savings can be significant. The U.S. The Department of Energy notes that you can save nearly 10% of your utility heating bill by lowering your thermostat by 10% to 15% for eight hours at a time!

4. Only heat the rooms you use.

Why waste heat and hard-earned utility money on rooms you're never in? If you only frequent the kitchen for a snack, don't bother heating it. The same goes for storage areas, extra bedrooms, and any rooms you're not using. Closing off vents and sealing them helps redirect the heat and reduce your utility bills.

5. Humidify the air in your house.

We always talk about how cold it gets in winter but don't talk as much about how dry it can feel indoors. The heat tends to make the air dry and irritate our sinuses. There's another downside to all that dry air. When the air in your home or apartment is moist or humid, it holds heat better and warms you up even more.

Purchasing a humidifier is a worthwhile, one-time investment. It helps your house feel warmer, even when your thermostat is set at a lower setting. You'll also reap the rewards of lower utility bill costs.

6. Rotate your ceiling fans clockwise.

Ceiling fans aren't just for cooling. Warm air rises and tends to hang out around your ceiling where it's not doing much good keeping you warm. Here's an innovative tip: Change your fans to rotate clockwise and set them to a low speed. They'll pull cool air upwards instead of pushing it down and giving you a chill. Warm air is simultaneously pushed downwards and helps keep you warm and cozy.

So remember, if you keep your fans rotating counter-clockwise, you will be yelling "winter is coming" all season long.

7. Keep your furnace clean.

Furnaces and vents need necessary maintenance checks to keep them running efficiently. Proper functionality will help reduce energy consumption and, in turn, save you some big bucks. Sometimes, it takes something as simple as checking or changing your filters and making sure you're using clean filters that are appropriate for your system. Consulting with a furnace or HVAC professional is your best bet for ongoing advice on how to keep your furnace in excellent condition.

8. Close your chimney damper.

If you're fortunate enough to have a fireplace in your apartment, townhouse, or rental home, close your chimney damper during winter. Cool air seeps through and makes your home feel drafty and cold. A closed damper also helps to keep curious critters away.

9. Check your filters.

What's going on with the HVAC or other systems in your apartment or home? You may have dirty filters that keep proper airflow and heat from circulating, and this hack will ensure that there's adequate airflow to keep you warm all winter long.

10. Make sure air vents aren't blocked.

If you're feeling cold in certain areas of your apartment, the culprit could be blocked air vents. Heavy furniture blocks off precious heat and quickly drives up your utility bills. Move away rugs, couches, chairs, and anything else that's blocking off your air vents.

11. Insulate where you can.

Heat is notorious for escaping out cracks and gaps around your home. Thoroughly search and investigate leaky windows where wind funnels through, even when they’re closed. Gaps under your doors are also major culprits for sucking away the heat.

Preventing heat from seeping through escape routes keeps your house feeling warmer than ever and keeps your wallet full. Fortunately, there are simple, cost-effective solutions, including foam weather stripping for cracks along with your doors and windows. Step your game up with some affordable insulation for larger areas. Your house will feel warmer in no time.

12. Seal windows and doors

Beyond insulation, you can also seal off windows and doors to keep your utility bills in check. You can also use window insulation tape, film, and curtains to seal out the cold as much as possible. A door sweep along the bottom of your doors and weather-stripping doors also creates a seal from frigid weather.

13. Adjust your water heater.

Your water heat directly impacts your utilities and how high they can climb. The recommended temperature for most furnaces is 120F, and anything higher or lower is likely aggravating your utility costs. Just make sure it can keep your shower water hot. Otherwise, you may end up feeling a chill all day and feel tempted to turn up the thermostat.

14. Adjust your refrigerator.

Your refrigerator may not keep you warm during winter but is still a utility drain year-round. Make sure your fridge is at the appropriate temperature or lower the coldness setting a few clicks to see how much you can save. Of course, you want your food to stay as fresh as possible, so make sure you're keeping it cold enough.

While you’re adjusting your refrigerator, check the coils in the back and dust them off to make sure it’s running at maximum efficiency. Looking for any vents in your fridge and moving away food and containers can also help trim your utility bill.

15. Use a power strip.

Unplugging your appliances may sound cumbersome, but it is simple with a power strip hack. Plug all of your appliances into power strips and easily unplug everything at once. While you're at it, hook your television and electronics into power strips to keep unplugging whenever you're not home.

16. Use a drying rack.

Running a dryer quickly runs up your energy bill, especially if you're prone to doing lots of laundry throughout the week. Instead, reach for the drying rack, hang up your clothes, and situate in front of a sunny window. They'll dry during the day while you help the environment and reduce your power bill simultaneously. Re-wearing gently used clothes, like a sweatshirt you wore over a tank-top a few days ago, can also help reduce resources.

17. Use dryer balls in the dryer.

Dryer balls do more than soften up your clothes like dryer sheets, they also help separate your clothes and allow more hot air to circulate. Your drying time reduces as the hot air evenly dries your clothes. Some studies show that drying balls can minimize drying time by as much as 25%!

18. Light up your house with LED lights.

It gets darker outside earlier during the winter, prompting you to use a lot more lighting. Plus, with the holidays calling for twinkling lights worthy of the Vegas Strip, you'll drastically increase electricity usage. So, if you decide to keep your holiday lights up until March, why not at least make the switch to LED bulbs? They use less energy and last longer! These tough little guys are extra resistant to breakage compared to traditional light bulbs and can stay cool longer.

19. Don't overdo the holiday lights.

Holiday lights and trimmings can keep your rental feeling fun and festive. However, they're also one of the primary reasons that electricity bills spike during the winter. You can still enjoy your lights and illuminations, but turn it all off when you leave. It's not just good for your utility bills; it's good for your safety and may be required in your lease.

20. Invest in a smart home system.

Having trouble remembering to adjust your thermostat for nighttime? Smart home systems are equipped to do it all for you. These smart home devices keep track of your preferred settings and adjust accordingly after the initial programming is done. Once it's set, you never have to worry about accidentally leaving the heater on while at work or running errands and wasting precious energy.

21. Upgrade kitchen appliances.

Just like old lightbulbs, outdated kitchen appliances could be eating up way more electricity than their newer counterparts. Check with a professional to see how much of your utility bill your dishwasher, washing machine, and fridge are devouring, and consider replacing them for long-term savings.

22. Get creative with insulating.

Older hot water heaters could benefit from an insulating jack to keep heat from escaping. Hot water pipes can also be insulated and keep water traveling through your home instead of letting the heat wander away.

23. Switch energy providers.

Beyond making your home or apartment as winter-friendly as possible, there's another way to help lower your utility bills: switching providers. Look for deals on power and gas from local providers, as they frequently offer a lower, locked-in rate for a specific duration to earn your business.

Final Thoughts

Lowering your utility bills is doable with the right strategy. Combine as many of the above ideas as possible and watch as your power usage takes a steady nose dive all winter long.

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Angelina is a Marketing Specialist at Apartment List where she writes content on rental lifestyle. Angelina previously worked as a Russian and German language specialist at Facebook and Google, and has a BA in Applied Linguistics from UCLA. Read More
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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