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The winter of 2013-2014 was one of the most brutal in recent memory. The dreaded Polar Vortex has put a large portion of the northern U.S. in the deep freeze, while bringing rare winter storms as far south as Louisiana and Florida. The extreme cold temperatures have put a major strain on energy resources, and homeowners that heat their homes with propane are seeing cost increases of as much as 300%. Prepare your home for upcoming winter months to save money on your electrical and heating bills.
With higher home heating bills across the country, homeowners need to look for every way possible to reduce their energy bills. Here are six of the best ways to save energy and reduce your utility bills this winter:
Keep your Windows Sealed: A lot of energy can be wasted allowing cold air drafts to come into your home through windows that are not airtight. Ideally, it is best to have up-to-date replacement windows that are equipped with the latest energy-efficient sealing methods. However, these can be rather expensive and are not practical to have installed while winter is already in progress. The most cost effective short-term solution is to cover your windows with plastic window wrap. It may not look pretty, but it gets the job done.
Wash your Clothes with Cold Water: Many homeowners focus mostly on the cost to heat the house while overlooking the cost to heat up the water. One easy way to lower your water heating costs is to simply wash all your clothes in cold water. Occasionally, you may have to break this rule if you have a load with really dirty clothes, but most of the time cold water will be sufficient to get your clothes clean.
Install a Low-Flow Showerhead: Another way to save on hot water is to limit the water use while taking a shower. Clearly, the most obvious way to accomplish this is by taking less time in the shower. Another good fix for the shower is to use a low-flow showerhead that limits the flow of water during the time you are in the shower. These showerheads generally cost between $35 and $50, and can often pay for themselves with utility cost reductions in 3-6 months.
Use Energy Star Labeled Products: Many consumer products today have the Energy Star label from the U.S. Department of Energy. Products with this label are among the most energy-efficient in their class. Examples include light bulbs, laptop computers, televisions, kitchen appliances, and many others. When it comes time to upgrade, choose Energy Star products whenever possible.
Run your Ceiling Fans on Low: Ceiling fans are one of the best energy saving products on the market. They are great in the summer for helping limit the use of your air conditioner. However, many homeowners do not realize is that they can also be a big help in the winter. With heat rising to the ceiling, running the ceiling fan on low and clockwise can help circulate the heat and push it back down toward the floor, where it provides the greatest benefit.
Install a programmable thermostat: Programmable thermostats have evolved in recent years and have become a very popular solution to keep home heating temperatures where they belong. The latest models are Wi-Fi capable, allowing homeowners to program them via a smartphone while at home or away from home.
Being energy conscious not only saves you money in the short-term but also helps lower utility bills over time. Investments in upgrades such as the programmable thermostat also enhance your home’s resale value when it comes times to sell.