When the weather outside is frightful, the electric bills often are as well. Nobody wants to watch his disposable income warm the pockets of the local power company, but most people don't want to spend the season padding around the house wearing extra socks and layers of sweaters either. The top 10 things you can do to lower your winter electric bill are inexpensive and easy to do.
Three Professional Inspections
You should hire a certified HVAC technician to ensure that your heating and ventilation systems are operating at optimum efficiency; simply repairing leaky ducts can reduce energy costs by as much as 20 percent, according to energystar.gov. You should also be sure the insulation in your attic meets current standards; it should have a thermal resistance of R-38 and be a minimum of 7 inches thick. While you're at it, have any holes in your basement, crawl space, or attic repaired -- and replace any cracked or broken windowpanes.
Two Must Haves
Invest in a programmable thermostat. They're inexpensive, with many models between $20 and $80. Installing one will allow you to lower the temperature in your house by 10 degrees while you're sleeping, which, according to Power New Mexico, can save you between 10 and 20 percent on your electric bill. PNM also recommends that you use a humidifier; moist air feels warmer and you will, too. Setting your thermostat just 1 degree lower can reduce your heating bill by as much as 3 percent.
Five Simple Do It Yourselves
There are lots of other easy fixes to lower your electric bill. Remember to change your furnace filter; a dirty filter makes your equipment work harder, costing you more. Use foam gaskets to insulate behind switch plates and electric sockets. Then, check your doors and windows for air leaks -- and use caulk to seal them. Take the time to insulate your water heater pipes. Also, drain the water heater to remove sediment -- and be sure it is set to 125 degrees F or less. Installing plastic film window insulation will also help lower your winter electric bill; it helps keep the cold out and your heat in.
Opening and closing doors and windows as little as possible and closing the air vents in unused rooms will help keep electricity costs low. Do your laundry in cold water -- and change your light bulbs to compact fluorescents; the savings can add up. Also, remember never to heat or cool an empty house and turn off and unplug unused appliances; leaving them on ends up costing you.
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