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Six Energy Sense Hacks to Trim Down Your Winter Utility Bills

Calling all heat-misers! Whether you have a wintertime energy-hogging home or energy-sipping home is largely up to you. In this blog, we’re leaving the costly or technical stuff like wrapping your water heater or increasing your insulation aside, and will post on those big ticket things separately. Here, we’re focusing on six seasonal tricks to have fun and look good while lopping a thick slice off your energy bills throughout the colder months.

1. Use those cozy home accessories

Haul out the holly, and warmer bedding and lap throws please! Yes, it’s November already, with cold nights and brisk days already here. Find time to unpack those heavier bedspreads and dig out your flannel sheets, because there’s no reason to crank the heat when you can be snug all night without the higher electric or gas bills. Plenty of studies show that cooler air in the room helps most people fall asleep faster and deeper too! 

Even screen time is comfier with a sweater or fleece blanket, and why not some fuzzy socks, so you can pop that thermostat a couple degrees down. This post author will freely admit it’s the only time of year I wish I had a big warm cat or dog, but occasional cuddles with my toddler will have to do.

Lastly, if you’re a slow tea or coffee sipper, you could use your favorite insulated mug even when you’re indoors working from home or kicking back reading, and get that boost of extra warmth to the last drop.

2. Fan of the fan? Rein it in!

You know that happy little fan in your bathroom that you or your spouse flicks on sometimes? It serves a useful purpose when it’s venting damp air or odors, but with that stale or wet air goes all the warm air that you paid good money (or spent solar power) to make! Feel free to nag your partner or kids about running the room ventilation only when it’s really doing a job (and next time you accidentally turn it on just fumbling in the dark, now you’ll be sure to kick it off again quickly!) Speaking of fans, if you have ceiling fans, they can be used to move warm air that rises to the ceiling down to human level to help your heating system work more efficiently, and web videos like this one show how.

3. Show your furnace and heat pump some extra love

Make the most of your home heat anytime it’s on by opening and directing all the registers properly and keeping furniture away from the openings, changing filters as directed and vacuuming/dusting the air intake with some regularity, and getting a heat pump tune-up or furnace tune-up from professionals if it’s been a while – some utilities offer referrals or discounts to make this easier, which you can likely find when you sign into your user account online.

4. Close the fireplace flue damper after every use

Enough said. You can do it! Feel free to try a friendly little post-it note until it becomes second nature – lots of institutions use sticker labels to program better occupant behavior, and we feel pretty good your family won’t call you passive-aggressive, at least not to your face.

5. Don’t fret, automate it

Look into your gas furnace or heat pump’s interface (aka control panel) and try to use its pre-program options to the max! You probably have a night time plan set, but once you have that set up, consider if you’re out of the house regularly any set time of the week, like Saturday or Sunday mornings for the farmers market or worship, or during the evening on date night or a standing weekly dinner at your extended family. If you deviate from your usual and stay home, you can always make a quick adjustment!

6. Talk about the things that make your home really feel warm to you

In Covid-19 homebound months last year, we all probably learned a lot about what makes us uncomfortable (or annoyed) when we can’t escape those we live with. Whatever your situation at home, we invite you to check in from time to time this year with whoever you live with about what about your home environment makes you feel safe and cozy. You may be surprised to find you agree that over-heating the living spaces isn’t as important to your sense of well-being as having a place to put away clutter, setting up calming apple spice candle to set the mood, and taking some time off devices to pay more attention to loved ones and do as the winter season encourages us to: slow down and recharge.

This article may sound a little strict, but it’s not meant to! We wouldn’t beat up on anyone who sometimes forgets to turn down the heat when you go out for the day – we all do. Our hope is that some of these ideas will spark some energy savings and get us all thinking about how these individual choices add up and how our carbon-cutting options can be a little limited when large-scale investments in fossil fuels of the past continue. With that, picture us lifting a steaming mug of something hot and drinking to good energy habits and a holiday season of climate progress!

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