By the West Florida Electric Co-op Association
The average American family spends $1,900 a year on energy bills, with that number increasing as energy costs rise. With winter setting in, it is important to understand that approximately half of your monthly power bill goes directly to heating your home.
The good news this winter is that you can control the amount of energy you consume, giving you the ultimate power to lower your monthly electric bill.
Here are some simple, low-cost ways to lower your power bill this winter:
● Lower your thermostat. Each degree you reduce your thermostat in the winter lowers your total bill by up to 4 percent. A five degree reduction could save up to 20 percent on your monthly heating cost. We recommend your thermostat be set at 68 degrees during the winter. Or, try keeping it set at a temperature where you will feel comfortable with a sweater on.
● Lower the temperature when you aren’t home and when you are sleeping. Extra covers on the bed will keep you warm. Helpful tip: Put a hook in the wall beside your thermostat and hang your keys on it. When you get your keys to leave home, you will remember to turn the temperature down.
● Close window shades and drapes at night to conserve heat and keep cold air out. Open them during the day to let the sunshine help heat your home. You can use blinds to block out the cold while still letting light in. Try tilting the slats at a 45 degree angle to the window.
● Add humidity. As we know in the South, humid air feels much warmer than dry air. (Think of those hot, summer days.) You can add a little humidity to your home by keeping plants indoors and by leaving the bathroom door open after a shower.
● Use your bathroom exhaust vent sparingly. It can draw out an entire houseful of heated air in about an hour.
● Keep the doors and vents closed in rooms you’re not using. Why heat an empty room?
● Reverse the spin of your ceiling fan and set it on the slowest speed to help send warm air down into the living area.
● Close your fireplace’s damper when not in use. Keeping it open is like having a full-sized window open all winter long, letting valuable warm air out. Also keep in mind that a fireplace is not an efficient source of heat for your home because heat escapes through the chimney with the smoke. You can minimize this by closing the doors to the room with the fireplace and lowering the thermostat.
● Keep filters clean. A dirty or clogged filter can make your heating unit work harder, costing you more money.
There are also several low-cost investments that can make your home more energy efficient.
● Caulk around windows and doors. By sealing all the gaps around doors and windows, you can keep out cold drafts. Be sure to caulk around your foundation and anywhere pipes pass through the walls.
● Close attic vents or fans during the winter and check the insulation. Much of the heat escaping your home is lost through the attic. Weather-strip and insulate your attic hatch or door.
● Install a programmable thermostat with temperature and time settings to save approximately $100 a year on energy costs.
Remember that you don’t have to spend money to save money. There are many easy, inexpensive things you can do this winter to reduce your energy consumption, and in turn, your power bill. You are the only one who can control how much energy you use.
Rising energy costs, climate change, carbon capture — these are complex issues. Lowering your electric bill? That’s easy. It’s just a matter of Conserve101.