In the winter, when many people turn on their heaters and put up holiday lights, gas and electric bills can be much higher than usual.
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), a family spends more than $1,900 a year on electricity bills and other utilities. A big part of those costs come from wasted energy during those cold months.
However, you can save on winter energy costs if you make some changes in certain areas of your home.
Improve the lighting in your home and save energy.
- Replace traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, which last between six and 12 times longer. Remember to turn off any lights that aren’t in use.
- Consider using LED lights for Christmas decorations. These use 90 percent less energy than the standard Christmas lights.
Thermostats and heating
Keep your home warm and comfortable.
- Install a programmable thermostat for your home’s heating system.
- Keep the doors and windows closed while the heat is on.
- Frequently change the filters in your furnace.
- Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Be energy efficient throughout your home.
- Only use the exhaust fan in the kitchen and bathrooms when necessary.
- Repair any water leaks in the bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, etc.
- Use power strips to plug in portable heaters, television and cell phone chargers. That way, you can turn off the power switch when the devices are not in use.
- If you’re thinking of replacing your appliances, make sure they have an Energy Star logo. Energy Star products are more energy efficient.
Programs for low-income families
During the winter, the government helps low-income families with their energy bills.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, helps families pay some of their heating costs. To see if you qualify for these benefits, contact your local LIHEAP office for more information.
Save money on gas with fuel-saving tips or with a more efficient car. Learn how at Fueleconomy.gov.
With gas prices increasing, many people are looking for alternate forms of transportation. But if you have to use your car for transportation, there are lots of ways to improve your gas mileage and help lower travel costs.
While you drive:
- Avoid idling. It gets you zero miles per gallon.
- Avoid aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking. These can lower your highway gas mileage by up to 33% and your city mileage by 5%.
- Avoid high speeds. Above 60 mph, gas mileage drops rapidly. For every 5 mph above 60 mph, it’s like paying an additional $0.30 per gallon.
- Air conditioning dramatically reduces fuel economy. Most air conditioners have an “economy” setting that allows the circulation of unchilled air. Many also have a “maximum” or “recirculation” setting that reduces the amount of hot outside air that must be chilled. Both settings can reduce the air conditioning load — and save gas.
Before you drive:
- Avoid keeping heavy items in your car. An extra 100 pounds could increase your gas costs by up to $.08 cents per gallon.
- Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks, which can decrease your fuel economy by 5% or more.
- Plan your route ahead of time so you combine errands and drive as little as possible. Several short trips each taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
- Use gas price finders to find the cheapest gas near you.
- Skip the after-market products that promise improved gas mileages. They don’t work, and sometimes they can damage your car.
- Use the grade of motor oil your car’s manufacturer recommends. Using a different motor oil can lower your gas mileage by 1%-2%.
- Inflate your tires to the pressure listed in your owner’s manual or on a sticker in the glove box or driver’s side door jamb. This number may differ from the maximum pressure listed on your tire’s sidewall.
- Get regular maintenance checks to avoid fuel economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, sagging belts, low transmission fluid, or transmission problems.
- Check into telecommuting, carpooling, and public transit to save driving and car maintenance costs. Many urban areas provide carpool lanes that are usually less congested.
All cost estimates assume an average price of $3.96 per gallon. Source: energysavers.gov
This October is Energy Awareness Month, and it is a good time to go over your energy routine and think of ways to conserve energy in your home and daily life.
Pay attention to the energy use in your home so you can monitor how much you are using. Simply unplugging some large energy consumers when they are not in use, such as home entertainment systems, and turning off lights when you leave a room, can save you money on your utility bill each month.
Stay up-to-date on new appliances and technologies that save energy and money, so that when it comes time to replace something, you know the most energy friendly options. You can find information on energy efficient appliances at EnergyStar.gov.
You can also help your kids understand the importance of energy conservation by teaching them how they can make a difference and why it is important to care about preserving our planet. Energy Star Kids is a fun, interactive, and educational tool your kids can explore.
Learn more about energy awareness and how to save.