How To Keep Your Electric Bill Down in Winter (2024)

I know those energy bills can be as persistent as the pests I deal with daily. Just like how critters sneak into your home, high electric costs in winter can catch you off guard. Even though the National Energy Assistance Directors Association predicts a 17% hike in heating bills and 7.5% rise in electric bills this winter, you don’t have to resign yourself to sky-high costs.

I have tricks to keep pests out, and you can employ strategies to keep those energy-suckers from draining your wallet. While enjoying cozy indoor time and holiday lights, you can still make adjustments to lower your bills. Let me guide you through proven methods to save money without sacrificing comfort. Together, we’ll take control of those pesky winter costs.

Turn the Thermostat Down

woman turning a home thermostat down
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Turning the thermostat down by 10°F to 15°F overnight can decrease your heating bill by 10%. Considering the many purported health benefits of sleeping in a cooler environment, this can be a healthy choice for your body and wallet.

If you have a smart thermostat or programmable thermostat, set it to automatically lower the thermostat temperature when you’re typically out of your home and overnight.

During the daytime, consider turning your thermostat down a couple of degrees and bundle up with a blanket, thick socks, and a sweater to make this a comfortable option. You can also reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to pull cold air toward the ceiling and warm air down.

Fans should be set to a clockwise direction on low for the greatest benefit. However, you’ll still want to turn fans off anytime you leave the room or home since fans keep people cool or warm, not the house.

Take this hack further by setting your fridge to 38°F and your freezer between zero and 5°F to keep your food fresh but not overly cold.

Seal Air Leaks

homeowner sealing air duct or ductwork
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The more energy-efficient your home is, the more you’ll save on energy and heating costs. Each fall, conduct an assessment of your home, feeling around common areas for drafts, such as windows and doors.

Check that the seals on your windows, doors, fridge, and freezer are well sealed so that cold air is not escaping, forcing your HVAC system to work harder to keep your home comfortable. If you find air leaks, use caulking or weather stripping around the seal to reinforce or fill in any gaps, preventing warm air from escaping outside, and cold air from entering the home.

Also, take time to fix leaky ductwork. Check your heating and cooling systems for air leaks and immediately repair leaky air conditioning ducts, ventilation, and heating systems.

Use Your Devices & Lights Smartly

LED Christmas lights on house roof peak
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Devices can become energy vampires, using energy even when not in use and draining your wallet with pricey utility bills.

Here are our recommendations for reducing your home’s energy usage by using your electronics and lights smartly:

  • Opt for LED light strings for the holidays, which are less expensive to keep on than other types of Christmas lights. Consider putting your holiday lights on a timer to make sure the lights are only kept on during the evening and not overnight.
  • Use smart power strips to prevent devices from using a trickle of power while in sleep mode. Many electronic gadgets never power off completely, so they keep using energy even when we think they’re off. An easy way to prevent this is by using smart power strips, which prevent the device from using power when the device isn’t in use.
  • Swap out light bulbs for LED bulbs or fluorescent light bulbs with an Energy Star label.
  • Ask your utility company for an energy audit. Many companies will conduct an energy audit for free and can give you personalized recommendations for ways to reduce energy use.
  • Install dimmer switches to adjust the brightness of different rooms.
  • Use portable electric heaters or space heaters to reduce your reliance on the central heating system. Central heating and fireplaces can be expensive, inefficient ways to warm a home, especially if you and your family are primarily in one area of the house. Maximize your comfort and reduce your energy bills by using a portable electric heater instead.

Optimize Your Windows

couple installing new energy-efficient windows
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Windows are a huge opportunity for saving on energy costs. Besides checking for and addressing drafts, consider drawing your curtains on sunny days to let the natural light heat your home.

To prevent heat loss, install tightly fitted insulated shades or drapes on windows that still feel drafty even after you’ve addressed the problem. These insulating curtains can also help your home keep heat inside. Energy-efficient window treatments are available to help keep your home warmer during winter.

Inspect Your Fireplace Regularly

technician performing a fireplace inspection
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Not only is properly maintaining your fireplace smart for you and your family’s safety, but it can also save you money on your electricity bill.

Check that your furnace filters are clean so that it’s not working harder than needed during the colder months. Depending on your model, removing and cleaning the filter or replacing it entirely may be necessary. Have your furnace and fireplace regularly serviced by an HVAC professional to keep them running optimally for your safety and your home’s energy efficiency.

For optimal temperature control, keep your fireplace’s damper closed unless a fire is burning to prevent warm air from escaping up the chimney. If you never use your chimney, plug and seal the chimney flue entirely.

Cut Back on Hot Water Usage

homeowner adjusting a tankless water heater temperature
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The cost of water heating, especially during the winter months, is a significant expense. Follow these energy-saving tips to cut back on this area of your winter energy bill:

  • Don’t wash your clothes in hot water. It’s not good for many clothes, and changing your laundry machine settings to warm or cold water can make a huge difference.
  • Immediately address any leaks. Water leaks waste gallons of water, so always address any leaks as soon as you discover them. 
  • Adjust your water heater’s thermostat. Many water heaters are set to 140°F as a default, but lowering your water heater’s temperature to 120°F can save you a chunk of money in energy usage. 
  • Upgrade old appliances. Old appliances can drain your home, so look into upgrading appliances that are 15 years or older to avoid paying for an inefficient model. Opt for energy-efficient appliances, like Energy Star-labeled dishwashers, water heaters, HVAC systems, fridges, dehumidifiers, washers, and dryers. 
  • Take shorter showers. You don’t have to change your shower time dramatically, but reducing it by only a minute or two each day will save you many gallons of water for the entire month. 

Unplug Unused Electronics

Electronics and appliances that are plugged in can use energy even when turned off or not in use. This “vampire power” drain can account for as much as 20% of your home’s electricity use. To stop this energy waste, unplug electronics and small appliances when you’re not using them. Or, plug them into a power strip that you can easily switch off.

Some of the biggest energy vampires are:

  • TVs and cable/satellite boxes
  • Desktop computers and monitors
  • Game consoles
  • Charging cords for phones/tablets (unplug when fully charged)
  • Coffee makers, toasters, and other small kitchen appliances
  • Lamps and decorative lighting

Making a habit of unplugging devices or using a power strip can lead to significant energy and cost savings on your winter electric bills. Smart power strips are another option — they automatically cut power to devices not in use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding winter energy-saving tips.

Why am I using so much electricity in the winter?

There are a few key reasons electricity usage increases in winter:

  1. Heating systems like furnaces use a lot of power to keep your home warm when it’s cold outside.
  2. With shorter days and longer nights, lights are on more hours.
  3. People tend to use more electrical appliances and electronics while spending more time indoors.

How do you set your heating to save money?

Set your thermostat lower when you’re away from home or sleeping — even a few degrees makes a difference. Install a programmable thermostat to automate temperatures. At night, set it to 60–67°F. When home, keep it at 68°F or a temperature that’s comfortable with sweaters/blankets.

Why is your electric bill so high in the winter?

Winter heating is the biggest contributor to high electric bills. As outdoor temperatures drop, heaters, furnaces, etc. must run longer to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures. This increased usage results in higher electricity consumption and costs.

Why does having an electric furnace impact my bill?

Electric furnaces use a lot of electricity to produce heat, more so than gas furnaces. The heating elements draw a high amount of power, which gets multiplied over the many hours they run in winter, leading to higher electric bills.

What is an efficient way to mitigate energy loss in a house during winter?

Making sure your home is well-insulated and sealed is key to preventing heat loss. Weatherstrip windows/doors, insulate attics/walls, and seal any drafts. This reduces the amount of heating needed to maintain temperatures indoors. Strategic use of window coverings can also minimize heat transfer.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, consider asking your utility provider about discounted rates. Many providers will offer cheaper rates on energy during less used times of day, so doing energy-intensive chores, like using your washer, dryer, or dishwasher, during these times can save you money.

Some providers will even give a choice to pay the same rate each month for your utility bill by taking your typical yearly bill and dividing it by 12. If paying the same rate each month, rather than fluctuating higher and lower rates throughout the year, is a better choice for you, ask your provider if it offers this option.

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Reviewed for accuracy, cost data, industry best practices, and expert advice by Coty Perry.

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