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6 ways to cut winter energy costs

By Jeff Fruhwirth · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Posted: 5 pm ET

The other day, we received the previous month's bill from the electric and gas utility. This is our first winter in our current house.

Our electric bill was about $175, which is the highest I've ever paid. I decided to do a little research to come up with some simple ways to lower our costs. Here are six steps I took.

  1. Applied foam insulation. The first thing I did was to use spray-in foam insulation in gaps. There were a few gaps where we had to replace the dryer vent, so I sprayed some foam in there and it expanded and took care of the leak. I also sealed a few other spots around the area where the cement foundation meets the wood.
  2. Applied silicone caulk. I added a bead of silicone caulk around all of the window frames. This is a small place for the air to get into the house, but the fix was simple.
  3. Turned down the water heater. Lowering the temperature of the warm water in the tank causes less energy to be used keeping the water at a higher temperature.
  4. Added insulation behind light switches. We also decided to put in some insulation behind our light switch plates. These are simple to install. You just pop the cover off the light switch, put the piece of foam in the switch box and screw the cover back on.
  5. Installed window coverings. This is nothing more than a piece of plastic and some sticky-sided tape that you put over the window on the inside of the house and seal with a hair dryer. The plastic acts as a second pane of glass, and the air pocket between the plastic and the glass keeps the area warm by regulating the temperature.
  6. Turned down the thermostat in the house. Wearing a sweater can keep me warm.

What have you done to your house to make it more energy efficient?

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11 Comments
j.d.
January 17, 2014 at 7:34 am

1/2 inch by 4ft by 8 ft foilback starfoam, from lowes or home depot, cut to fet windows, also works in hot summer time. agood many homes in the south do not have { thermmo pain } .

Lee
January 17, 2014 at 5:47 am

If you have a water heater that needs to be pluged in to work put it on a timer to shut off at night. Unplug it if you will be gone for more then a couple of days.

terry snyder
November 02, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Turn your heat down and use a heated blanket to warm up your bed.

Handy Randy
November 02, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Do your clothes drying and dish washer use at night to help heat house. leave stove fan off as much as possible to leave the cooking heat inside. Use ceiling fan to move cooking heat around for couple minutes. Wear socks, Leave hot water from bath, doing dishes and boiling foods sit till cooled off before draining. Hot water heats the air. Cover your foundation vent holes so under home is warmer. Block air from going under doors where not needing to heat such as closets, extra rooms. Close some of your floor heat vents to not heat a couple areas in home. Turn freezer temp warmer so not working as much. Candles are nice enjoyable light and do provide tiny bit of light, place mirror behind candle for more light. Burn your non treated paper trash, t.p. rolls, even dry leaves in fireplace. Clean your gutters so they are not clogged with leaves then fill with ice. Spray outside of your windows with deicer or rain X to keep the cold moisture off them. Plan on colder winter and more power outages this winter. Stock up on foods etc. now.

Timothy
November 02, 2013 at 12:25 am

1. stay at your friends house as long as you can and use up their energy.
2. Eat cold cereal 3-4 times a week.
3. get some long haired dogs to sleep with and cut your heat off.
4. wear long underwear all the time, gather newspapers and stuff them under your comforter to add insulation.
5. Use lotions or liniments that heat your body, you will need less heat.
6. Cut your main circuit breaker off in your panel box at least 20 hours a day, use candles and battery operated lights when you need them.
7. Go to schools to take showers in their locker rooms, if you time it right you can usually get away with it, without being seen.

Jane Merrill
October 30, 2013 at 9:50 pm

I tried cutting a cardboard box piece to fit each window, and placed it, on the sill, between my louve blinds, and the curtains on the window. I also cut a perfect cardboard piece to fit over my window air conditioner, taped it on, and then covered the whole thing with plastic wrap, and taped it down. I put scotch tape over the electric sockets not using. It stopped the draft blowing in. We put weather stripping down at the bottom of the doors, and that really cut the draft. Thanks for your input, will try some of the above also.

K Smith
October 30, 2013 at 8:50 pm

We added a cover over the attic fan, blocked lots of cold air. We have a crawl space, so we added insulation to the cover of that.

We've pretty much done all the other suggestions on the list, with success.

Brenda
October 30, 2013 at 3:52 pm

regarding #4 we did this and it made a significant difference. Take the coverplate off and hold a lightweight piece of paper close to the opening (or your slightly damp hand) you WILL see why this will help. **About fire places not used much. There are also available Flue "pillows" or you can use an oversized piece of foam and put it just out of view in the chimney opening. BIG difference here too. IF you use your fireplace be sure you shut the door in the room it is in, or it will suck the heat from other room right up the chimney.

cara parker
October 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Just a few more suggestions
1. If you have teenagers, check, make sure all windows are actually closed-- all the way shut.
2. If you have hot water lovers, put a limit of 10 minutes per shower.
3. Turn off excess clocks- Ex. Two microwave, two stove, and a clock radio clock all in one kitchen?
4.I know a lot of folks do this already but, cook a big meal on Sunday! You can microwave left overs and add salad combos for four more days.

robert coccaro
October 30, 2013 at 9:16 am

THEE WER A FEW TASKS YOU DIDN'T MENTION.
1. ADD 8 " OF UNFACED INSULATION I THE ATTIC OVER THE TOP OF THE EXITING INSULATION 90DEGREES OVER EISTING.
2. INSTALL A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
3. INSTALL A DOOR SWEEP ON ALL OUTSIDE DOORS
4. IF YO HAVE A FIREPLACCE, CLOSE THE FLUE DOOR
5. GET YOUR BOILER SERVICED AND CLEANED

THESE ITEMS WILL DOUBLE YOU SAVINGS...GOOD LUCK