Up North winter is a big deal. (If you do not live in a cold climate, stick around I have some help for you too!) It’s cold, it’s snowy, it’s windy, sure it’s pretty but it can be very expensive. Winter utilities can completely wreck a household budget so saving money is essential. Let’s see if we can find some super simple ways to keep you and your family warm this winter without breaking the bank.
There is nothing as bad as waking up in the morning to a house that is bitter cold. Having to make the mad dash from your bed to the closet just to grab a pair of socks and a hoodie is no one’s idea of fun. And don’t even get me started on taking a shower. When we were living paycheck to paycheck and our family was young I needed to get pretty creative in order to save our money. Winter utilities was a tricky one. After all, staying warm shouldn’t depend on whether or not you can afford it.
I went to work finding ways to keep more of our heat inside where we wanted it and found a few golden nuggets that might just surprise you. Don’t underestimate the power of a small tip, especially when you can lump a few together to make a pretty big impact.
10 Ways to Save Money on Your Winter Utilities
Tip #1 Lower Your Water Heater
This one is easy and totally painless, yet few people actually do it. Most water heaters are preset to 140 degrees. Not only is this high temperature unnecessary but it’s actually quite hot and can scald quickly especially young children.
If you turn down your tank to 120 degrees you can potentially save up to 40%.
Not only that, but you will hardly notice the temperature change.
If you are not sure how to do this, you can read more here.
Tip #2 Childproof Your Outlets
Have you ever held your hand in front of an electric outlet on a cold winter day? The first time I did it, I was amazed and how much chilly air I felt. Even in newer homes, this heat leak is still an issue.
An easy fix is to purchase childproof electric plugs like these. Put them in every plug in your home and that little bit will actually make a difference in your home’s warmth.
Ninja Tip: See if your local Dollar Tree has these plug protectors and grab a few boxes. Keep them in year-round so you don’t forget to add them when the temperatures drop.
A small investment that can really help to keep your home warmer.
Tip #3 Check Windows for Leaks
It is said that 20-30% of a home’s heat escapes through our windows. If you feel cold air coming in, there are a few low-cost options to help.
First, check and make sure your windows are locked. Just this one step will stop a lot of your heat loss.
A locked window helps to tighten the seal. Another tip is if you get into the habit of locking your windows you will know for sure they are closed. This actually happened to us. A window in a guest bedroom that “looked” closed was actually opened with just a small crack. That crack was enough to let in some pretty cold air prompting our furnace to run.
Next, if you have curtains on your windows or shades another good winter habit is to keep them closed. This will provide an extra layer of insulation from the bitter outside cold.
If you still have a problem, you can try a draft dodger. You easily make your own by filling an old sock with dried rice. Simply place the sock on a leaky window sill or top ledge where you feel the coldest air.
Finally, you can use Plastic Window Film. Although I am not a fan of this option I know people who love it and use it every year.
Tip #4 Replace Your Furnace Filter
Hubby likes to change our furnace filters on the first day of fall. This ensures it is done long before we need to actually run our furnace.
Nothing causes allergies more than a dirty filter, trust me I’ve done the legwork. Clean filters also help extend the life of your furnace. Another easy chore with big results.
Tip #5 Use the Sun
Even on the coldest of days, you might just be surprised at how warm the sun can be. Most people will tell you to keep your curtains closed on those cold days as a way to help keep the frigid air out and to be honest, I almost completely agree.
Except when it is a bright sunshiny day.
On those days open up those curtains and let that warm sunshine in. As long as you have whether proofed your windows correctly, you can expect the warmth of the sun to be the only thing coming in from your windows.
And even the small bit of warmth will make a pretty impressive difference in your home.
Tip #6 Use Ceiling Fans to Move Warm Air
Fans are for more than just keeping cool. They can also be used to move warm air down. A pretty helpful thing to have especially if your home has high cathedral type ceilings.
Simply turn your ceiling fans on low and run them counterclockwise.
This will move the warm air down where you want it. Just remember, clockwise keeps you cool and counter-clockwise keeps you warm saving you money on those costly winter utilities.
If you are worried about your electric bill, don’t be. A ceiling fan rated 25 watts with a household rate of $0.15 per kWh would cost about $33 per year. That’s running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. (source:spyrkaelectric.com)
If you divide this cost down to an hourly run the heat savings is worth the cost of electricity.
Tip #7 Close off Unused Rooms
If you have rooms that you do not use often such as an office or spare room, why heat it? Not only should you keep the door closed, but close the heating vents as well. This will force more of your heated air into heavily used rooms.
I would not suggest doing this in a bathroom, however. Keep rooms with water at the same temp as your home to better avoid frozen pipes.
Ninja tip: Make sure to remove any plants from the room before closing off the heat. A cold plant is most likely a dead plant.
Tip #8 Check Under Doors
In our home, we have a walk-in attic that is off of our game room. Even though there is carpet on the floor that has a high pile I am still amazed at how much cold air comes through the bottom of that door.
A few years ago my Sister In Law bought me this Draft Dodger. Not only does it keep the cold out, but it’s cute too. Just like the draft sock I mentioned above, you can make a draft dodger as well but you will need a much bigger sock to cover the entire base of the door. A better option for a DIY draft dodger is a sleeve from an old and worn sweatshirt a hoodie.
Tip #9 Use Your Oven
My kids loved this tip and now that they are gone and on their own, my Hubby loves this tip!
On the really cold days, I like to bake a few batches of cookies or a few loaves of homemade bread. This is a dual purpose tip. Not only are you filling your freezer with treats for your family or even when unexpected guests drop by, but you are also heating up your house with the heat from your oven.
Have you ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner? Ever noticed how warm your home is on that day? It is amazing how an oven can really heat a house up. I guess we would call that turkey heating. 🙂
Tip #10 Turn that Thermostat Down
Not nearly as fun as the oven tip but a great cost saver that can really save some big money on winter utilities.
If you have a programmable thermostat you can turn your furnace down a bit while you sleep and set it to warm back up before you wake. Be careful not to lower the temp too much or you will lose money in the morning as your heater works hard to heat things back up.
Just a few degrees is all you need to pocket a pretty impressive savings cost.
You can also go a step further and reduce the temp during the day by a degree or two and put on a sweatshirt and warm socks.
Bonus tip #1 Call in Reinforcements
You can also add an energy-efficient space heater such as an oil-filled radiator. We have a couple of these heaters and we love them.
They cost very little to run and will heat a room pretty thoroughly. Since I spend most of my days in my office, this heater keeps me toasty warm without having to heat up the entire house.
Be sure to always do a quality check of a space heater checking wires and plugs to be sure everything is in good working order. It goes without saying to never (EVER) to leave a space heater unattended. Many fires happen each year from forgotten space heaters.
Use this rule when using space heaters. If the lights are out, the heater needs to be off.
Bonus tip #2 Cover up at Night
We always use a second comforter on our beds at night along with some cozy flannel sheets. You would be amazed at how these two additions can make your bed toasty warm.
You can also invest in a down comforter for your bed to use in the winter. You would be amazed at how one of these comforters really keep you warm in the winter.
Bonus tip #3 Call in the Professionals
If you are following every tip you can think of yet your home is still drafty, it may be time to call in some help to make sure you are doing all you can to save on your winter utilities.
Contact your heating company for suggestions of a home visit. You can have a professional come into your home and look over your windows, your furnace and even check the insulation.
This will give you a heads up on any larger issues you may need to take care of. Make sure before you book an appointment with anyone you determine it is a no-obligation cost-free visit.
Yes, these are available….you just need to find them. Call your heating company or your local extension office for help.
Utility reps are trained and know exactly what to look for, all you need to do is reach out. You may find that just a little caulking around the windows is all you may need to tighten things up a bit.
Tips For Milder Winter and Summer Year-Round Folks
Don’t worry you can save money too.
Just because you have air conditioning does not mean you have to USE it. Now that the sweltering heat has calmed down a bit, turn those A/C units off my friends and save big.
I have a full post of super simple tips on how to keep your house cool without using central air. Now, I know all of your southerners do not have the luxury of shutting things down in August.
So save these tips for December-March. 🙂
When you are looking for ways to save money on winter utilities you need to weigh all the options. The cost of a new tip or the labor involved to implement it may not always be worth the savings.
Do your homework, try a few ideas out and use the ones that work best for you.
What tips do you have on how to save money on winter utilities? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you!