The Best Ways to Downsize Utility Costs in Winter

For many households, winter usually causes a spike in utility bills. The gloomier skies have you turning your lights on earlier at night. The less-than-ideal conditions outside (plus the pandemic) have people staying indoors all the time, consuming more energy. And of course, the chilly weather has you turning up the thermostat higher to keep the house warm. As a result, your bills tend to be much higher in the winter. Add that on top of holiday expenses, and it’s no wonder why a lot of people’s wallets get thinner as the temperature drops.

Nevertheless, it’s not impossible to cut down on your utility bills this winter–or at least prevent them from skyrocketing. Here are some useful tips that can help:

Lower the thermostat

Unless your house uses solar power that provides what is essentially free energy, your bills will tend to rise when the cold season comes around. People are staying indoors more often, which means that electronics are being frequently used, devices are being charged more often, lights are on for longer times, and the house has to be constantly warm for its inhabitants. And during the current pandemic, people will even have less reason to go outside.

One of the most effective ways to reduce your utility bills during winter is to lower the thermostat. Granted, this will make your house colder, but it can save you a lot of money throughout the entire season. Make up for the lost warmth by wearing a sweatshirt and some thick socks in the house, maybe even invest in a thick, weighted blanket. You don’t have to lower the thermostat to the point of freezing, though, but a few degrees from your usual setting will do.

Close off unused rooms

For rooms that don’t get used all that often, such as the spare bedroom or home office, you can seal them off to divert the heat to the rest of the house. Close the doors and windows as soon as the temperature starts to drop. Only partially close the heating vents to prevent causing pressure leaks and damaging your HVAC system.

If you have to use the room, open the heating vents again to warm it up.

Fix cracks and holes

Cracks and holes in the ceilings, walls, and floors can let a significant amount of precious heat seep through, even if they seem insignificantly small. As a result, the room will feel colder, which will have you turning up the thermostat to make it warmer.

That said, fixing cracks and holes before winter comes is essential in keeping your utility bills low. Seal small cracks and holes with some caulk or silicone. These materials are inexpensive and are usually easy to use, even if you’re not much of a DIY-er. However, for big cracks and holes, it’s recommended to call in a professional to ensure that they are sealed correctly.

Use LED bulbs

If you’re still using halogen or incandescent light bulbs in or outside the house, replacing them with LED bulbs is a worthy investment, especially in the winter, where hours of daylight become shorter. LED bulbs are more energy-efficient than traditional light bulbs. Although they do cost more initially, the energy savings will pay off in the long run. Moreover, this type of light bulb tends to last longer than others—up to even ten times longer, depending on the brand.

Install weather stripping

Weatherstripping material is typically inexpensive and easy to use. The reliability of which will depend on the quality you choose and the compatibility of the type of material to your application.

Install weather stripping around doors (especially those that lead outside or to the garage) and windows. Doing so will help reduce the amount of heat slipping through the gaps, which, in turn, helps you conserve energy.

Find entertainment alternatives

Does your family spend most of the time watching TV, using the computer, or staring at their phone? Not only is excessive screen time bad for your health, but it’s also one of the biggest contributors to a high electric bill. But what else can you do for entertainment when you can’t go outside because of the weather (and the pandemic)?

Lots, actually. Come up with activities that don’t involve the prolonged use of a device. You can try reading holiday stories, learning a craft hobby, baking cookies, knitting a sweater, making holiday cards, and much, much more. Aside from helping you save money, these types of activities will help reduce your screen time.

Reducing your utility bills during winter is not that difficult—you have to be proactive about it. With these tips, you can keep your energy bills from spiking even as the temperature starts to drop, and the snow makes it less appealing to go outside.