Over the past few weeks, there’s been a lot in the news about increased electric rates and the prospect of high prices this winter, but no one has been telling you the whole story. Here at CLF, we’re working to build a thriving New England for all people, and making sure that people are able to stay warm without breaking the bank is a big concern for us.
In fact, CLF and its allies have called on utilities and regulators to increase investments in energy efficiency and fuel assistance to help consumers, but now, with the first really cold weather of the season bearing down on us, in an effort to help our members and anyone else who is worried about energy prices this winter, here are 5 Things You Can Do to reduce your winter energy bills:
1. Energy Efficiency Audits. Whether you’re a renter or an owner, you can get a free energy efficiency audit to identify the areas where you’re losing the most heat and how to fix it.
2. Prep your Windows. Windows can be a major source of letting heat out or letting cold air in. Make sure that you put up your storm windows. If you don’t have storm windows, or if your windows are leaky, there are some inexpensive ways to stop your heat from leaking out without risking your security deposit:
– Plastic film to seal your windows. These are easy to install, inexpensive, and can save between $18-20 per window per winter. You can usually find these at your local hardware store. 3M, WJ Dennis and Duck Brand are some of the most common brands.
– Thermal curtains can also stop drafts and won’t necessarily break the bank. Target, Ikea and Bed, Bath and Beyond have a large selection.
3. Get to know your heating system. Ask your landlord if s/he has a pre-season tune-up done and when the air filter was last changed. Air filters should be changed every three months for maximum efficiency.
4. Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. According to the Department of Energy, water heating can be the second largest energy user in a home, accounting for up to 18% of an energy bill. The DOE estimates that you can save $12-30 for every 10 degrees that you lower the thermostat. If it’s set at 140, you can lower it to 120 to save energy without giving up hot showers.
5. Install a Programmable Thermostat. You can save between 15-20% on your heating bill by programming your thermostat so that it isn’t heating your home when you’re not there. These thermostats range widely in cost from $30-300, but you can recoup the cost within a few seasons or even more quickly if you take advantage of rebates.
Reducing energy use is one of the most cost-effective ways to keep your energy bill low, and it helps to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.