If you have an electric furnace, it should come as no surprise that electricity usage, and therefore your bill, will increase during cold weather. In some cases, it can take more energy to heat your home in winter than to cool it in the summer because the “comfortable” temperature setting for the thermostat is farther away from the average outside temperature.
So, what can you do to reduce usage?
- Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees.
Every degree above 68 degrees increases heating costs by up to 5 percent. Lower your thermostat 5-7 degrees when leaving home for more than 4 hours. However, if you have a heat pump, only reduce your thermostat setting 1-2 degrees when leaving home so the more energy intensive heating coils won't have to kick in to get the home back to 68 degrees when you return. Avoid using personal heaters as they can be unsafe and very costly.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
You can save an estimated 10 percent per year on heating and cooling by using a programmable thermostat.
- Put your fans to work while you are in the room.
Even in winter, ceiling fans can be used to help manage the interior climate. Ceiling fans should be clockwise in the winter, and the fan should run at the lowest speed. This pulls cool air up toward the ceiling, which in turn displaces the warm air that rises and collects near the ceiling.
- Put your blinds and curtains to work.
In the winter, open curtains and blinds during the day to let sunlight in; close them at night to insulate against outside air.
- Seal up any leaks around windows and doors.
Also, check for and seal leaks around pipes, vents or electrical conduits that go through the wall, ceiling or floor. Common areas to check for leaks include bathrooms, underneath the kitchen sink, around pipes, inside closets, etc.
- Check your insulation.
Insulation helps slow down the transfer of heat to cold and a lack of it allows heat to escape, increasing your bill.
- Reduce your hot water temperature.
Set your water heater to the "normal" setting or 120-degrees Fahrenheit. The exception would be if the owner's manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Also, wrapping your hot water heater in an insulation blanket may save you money, especially if you water heater is in the garage or an outdoor closet.
- Wash clothes in cold water.
An estimated 75 to 90 percent of all the energy used to wash a load of laundry comes from using hot water. Switching to colder water makes every load more efficient and could lower your electric or gas bill.
- Have your furnace professionally serviced.
A professional will make sure it is operating safely and efficiently. If you have a heat pump, make sure your outside unit is serviced as well.
- Check the flue on your fireplace.
Be sure to close the flue on your fireplace when not in use and avoid using electric fireplaces.
- Adjust your pool pump.
If you have a pool, be sure to run the pool pump no more than one hour per 10 degrees of daily average temperature. For example, if it’s 50 degrees, the pool pump should run for five hours. You should also set it to run during the early morning when it’s coldest outside. Also, be sure to set the freeze protection at 35 degrees.