Weather is the single biggest driver of home electricity bills. No matter the season, outside temperature determines how often your AC/heating system cycles on and off. In winter, the colder it is outside, the harder your heater works. Heating and cooling represent around 50 percent of the average bill–the colder the weather, the higher your winter electric bills.
The cost of heating isn’t the only reason winter weather matters, though. During the cold, people tend to stay home more often, and many spend their time watching TV, playing video games, and using computers, tablets, and smartphones—all of which consume significant energy. Many people take long, hot showers or baths to help keep warm. This triggers the average home’s second-highest energy-consuming device—the water heater—which accounts for around 20 percent of the typical energy bill. Here are some steps you can take to help manage usage and moderate your winter electric bills.
Upgrade Your HVAC System
If it’s 10 years or older, we recommend thinking about replacing your current AC/heating system—especially if it has begun needing frequent repairs. Newer systems are more efficient, and AC/heating dealers (GVEC Home® included) are typically less busy during fall and early winter. Plus, you’ll be calmer and more comfortable choosing and installing a new system during cool weather, rather than when it is 103 degrees and your old system’s suffering a breakdown.
Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you don’t need a new system or aren’t ready to retire your old one, consider upgrading to a learning thermostat like those offered through GVEC Home. We sell the Nest Learning Thermostat® and the Nest Thermostat E®, either of which can save you up to 20 percent on monthly electric bills. These devices will help your system to cycle on and off less frequently, too, saving overall wear and tear and increasing longevity.
Calk and Seal Your Home’s Leaks
You can significantly lower winter electric bills by sealing all the holes, gaps, crevices and cracks that allow outside air to seep in. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, sealing all the leaks throughout a typical home can save up to 30 percent annually in heating and cooling costs. Failing to fix this problem can amount to a level of wasted energy similar to leaving a window open year-round. When you consider the low cost of caulk and weatherstripping and the fact that most homeowners can seal these leaks themselves, the savings are well worth the effort.
Reverse Your Home’s Ceiling Fans
Most ceiling fans can be set to run the blades in reverse. This causes air to be pulled toward the ceiling instead of being pushed to the floor. From the ceiling, it’s propelled outward, flowing and bouncing down the walls, leading to improved circulation and heat distribution.
Add Rugs and Wear Socks
Stepping onto a cold tile, wood or cement floor during winter can be like walking onto a sheet of ice. The cold can seep up through your feet and even around your legs and torso, making you feel much colder. You may be tempted to reach for the thermostat. You can easily help control this problem by laying a thick area rug and/or by wearing thick socks or well-insulated house shoes.
For more information on getting ready for winter, visit our blog at gvec.org, or call us at 800.223.4832 to speak to an energy solutions specialist about our free home energy audit for members.