How to save money on utility bills in winter.
With the constant increases in prices and taxes, it can seem almost impossible to save money on winter utility bills. And, let’s face it, you’re really at the mercy of the weather. While some might luck out and have the mildest winter on record, what do you do when your winter is one of the harshest in years?
As it turns out, there are a few things you can do AND they’re pretty easy. While these tricks won’t drop your winter utility bill to $0, they will help you see a lower number on that bill.
6 Super Easy Ways to Save Money on Winter Utility Bills
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1. Dive Into Your Utility Bills & Usage History
One of the best things you can do for yourself when trying to save money on winter utility bills is to actually understand your bill. This means breaking out the last several month’s worth of bills and understanding the rate you’re being charged and what your usage habits are.
Questions to ask when trying to understand your utility bill – especially if you want to save money
To help you understand your bill, figure out the answers to these questions. If you get stuck, try looking at your provider’s website or contacting a representative to help you.
- How much gas and electricity do you typically use in a month?
- Try comparing summer months to winter months.
- You may also want to do a monthly average of usage over the year. (This can help you out when it comes to creating your budget.)
- How much is your utility usage costing you per unit?
- What about average cost per month?
- Are you locked into a period? Or can you take advantage of renegotiating your rate?
- Look at the variable rate trend over the last year. Does it make sense to switch to the variable rate or stay with the fixed rate?
- Does it make sense to switch to another provider? What would that cost you?
By asking yourself these questions, you may find some easy ways to bring the bill down without having put in much effort. Or, you may realize that even a bit more effort and research on your end will have big results. Either way, you will have a better understanding of what you’re being charged for and at what rate. This will help you to correlate the habit changes you make to your next month’s bill.
2. Do Government Sponsored “Green” Rebates Apply to You?
Sometimes the problem isn’t you – it’s your house! If windows are old and inefficient or your doors don’t seal well, a lot of your heat just slips right on out of your house. Yes, fixing these issues can make a difference in your bills and your house, but it can also be really pricey.
That’s why you should do some research and see if there are any government-sponsored rebate or green initiative incentives that would help you fix some of the heat sucking problems around your house. You’ll likely have to pay for part of the upgrades but it’s much more affordable when a big portion is rebated back to you.
Government Sponsored Energy Efficiency Initiatives in Canada That Might Help You Save on Utility Bills
If you live in Canada, check out the Natural Resources Canada website. It contains all the energy efficiency programs offered by each province and is super easy to navigate. A few minutes here might help you see how affordable some upgrades can be and in turn help you save money on your winter utility bills.
Government Sponsored Energy Efficiency Initiatives in The United States That Might Help You Save on Utility Bills
If you live in The United States, look through the resources listed through the Federal Energy Management Program. This link will take you to a page where you can look at the energy efficiency resources available to each state.
3. Incorporate Layers Indoors
I think we all get the concept of layering up to go outside on a frigid day, but often we leave the layers at the door when we come home.
But, if you’re not dressing properly for winter inside as well then you’re sabotaging your savings on heating costs.
Luckily the solution is simple – wear more layers and keep the thermostat in the house lower. Dressing properly inside is an easy win for saving on winter utility bills.
Simple Ways to Remind You to Layer Up Inside in Wintertime
Here are some simple layering tricks to try:
- Keep a sweater in the front closet so when you come in and take off your coat you immediately swap it for a sweater.
- Make socks or slippers easily accessible from the front entry way.
- Make throws or small blankets easily available to you in the areas you don’t move around much. I.e, sitting around watching tv, working at your desk, reading in your chair.
- Wear an undershirt.
4. Get a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats make it so easy to monitor, schedule and adjust your house temperature. I was gifted one as a house warming present a couple of years ago, and it is the best!
It allows me to set up a heating schedule based on our habits, plus I can always log in to the app on my phone to make manual adjustments.
There’s nothing worse than being at work and realizing you’ve forgotten to turn down the heat and there’s nothing you can do about it for the next 8 hours. A smart thermostat with a phone app helps you prevent this situation completely.
Or, if you’re on the couch and too lazy to get up and adjust the heat, you can easily do it from your phone!
5. Invest in a Space Heater
A space heater is the perfect side kick to any thermostat. It helps deliver the heat specifically to where you are and where you want the temperature to be higher without unnecessarily heating the whole house.
A couple of years ago I bought a space heater at Costco, and I’m confident that it has more than paid for itself. Even on freezing cold days I can keep the temperature in my (somewhat drafty) house around 16 degrees (celsius), point the space heater at me, and still feel cozy as I watch TV.
Check out this space heater with good reviews.
Space Heaters Are Great, But Use Caution
You do have to use caution with space heaters though as they shouldn’t be left unattended. And, some do pose a big risk for tiny fingers or curious snouts.
I also wouldn’t use a space heater to heat your bedroom overnight. For me, it’s too risky, even with the safeguards most space heaters have.
Plus, studies show that sleeping in a cooler room is better for your health.
But, if everyone in the house can be safe around a space heater, check one out.
5. Be Strategic About How You Use Your Appliances
If you can get away with not turning on your oven, by using the toaster oven or cooktop instead, that can save on electricity. You can also try turning off the stove elements a few minutes before your food is done and allow the residual heat finish the job.
By the way, you can implement this strategy all year round! No need to wait specifically until winter.
This site has lots of good tips on how to maximize your energy efficiency when you cook and bake.
Maximize Your Loads
When it comes to other appliances like your dishwasher or washing machine make sure you maximize your loads to save on electricity and water.
If you have a sunny enough room you can even get away with air-drying a lot of your laundry – even in the winter. Although the heat from the dryer is nice, saving a bit of cash from not having to use it is a bit nicer.
6. Only Light The Space You’re Using
This is another one of those common sense things, but it can be hard to do, especially in the winter when it’s crazy dark, crazy early.
I find it tough to do this because it’s super depressing to go to work and come home in the dark every day. And when I get home in the evening I want to turn all the lights in the house on.
But, by arranging furniture strategically, you can get away with only lighting the space you’re in and still feel nice and bright.
Try turning furniture away from other rooms. Point them toward a focal point within the room it’s in so that when the room is lit up the effects will be bigger.
Or, if you can, go into a room where you can shut the door. This makes it easy to feel the positive effects of the bright lights without having to see the dark rooms.
Start Using These Tips Today to Save Money on Winter Utility Bills
Will doing these things take your gas and electric bill down to $0? Unfortunately, no. But, every step will help and the more you do, the more you’ll save.
And it helps if everyone in the house is on the same page. So start talking to your partners, roommates, and kids. Decide on a house policy of things you’ll do, like wearing socks and slippers, and help each other stick to it.
Have you tried any of these tips? What are some things that have worked for you. Let us know in the comments below.