Today when I woke up it was a balmy 36 degrees out. Yes, you heard me right. It seems like just last week we were enjoying the warm August temperatures, but we can surely kiss those goodbye, now. In the Northeast, this cold Fall morning only means one thing (aside from apple picking, fall foliage, and hiking, of course): the winter is creeping up on us.
I can still remember two years ago, on Halloween weekend of 2012, to be exact, when we were graced with about 8 inches of snow. Sounds impossible for October, right? Think again. If there’s anything I’ve learned from living in New England my whole life, it’s the fact that the weather can change from one extreme to another- in an instant.
I was home from college for the weekend, just in time for my drive back to Vermont, it started to snow. Even on the best of days, in the best of conditions this ride through the mountains was not particularly pleasant. When it snows it is worse.
Even though I had a couple days to plan for the snow to know I neglected to put snow tires on my car. This was ultimately a bad decision-as this was one wild trip back to Vermont. I guess I didn’t want to think about what the snow meant – the start of what was probably going to be another long, cold winter.
What does my car story have to do with your electric bill? When it comes to weather-procrastination doesn’t work, Mother Nature hath no fury! By the time it is legal to put studded snow tires on your car hopefully your are already preparing your home for winter. If Halloween hits and the air conditioners are still in your windows, well, you get the point.
During the fall and winter, consumers, especially those living in the Northeast, will likely see an increase in the amount of electricity we use. Remember the winter of 2013/14? The lower 48 got hit with a worse winter than normal. Southern states felt the chilly temperatures and even experienced ice and snowy conditions for the first time in years. Both energy and weather forecasters alike are saying this winter will be much like last year. Colder weather and likely higher energy costs are right around the corner.
It is never too early to start preparing your home for colder temperatures. Here are some tips on how to get ahead of the weather so you can save as much as possible on that pesky electric bill.
1. Turn Down the Temps…
- Swap a blanket (or two) for lower thermostat settings. According to energy.gov, “by turning your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill — a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.”
- Avoid over-heating your water heater. Most people don’t take 140 degree showers, so just by turning the temperature down, you can save big-time on your electricity bill. Plus, you won’t even feel the difference and it will prevent scalding yourself with hot water!
- Cover the windows that don’t get sun with heavy-duty curtains.
- For windows that get nice, natural light, leave the curtains open
- Seal drafty windows with a plastic covering so the cold doesn’t get in
(I get it, plastic over the windows…eww…looks awful. But hey this is great opportunity to go curtain shopping and get something stylish and practical.)
- Caulk around windows that may have air leaks. If you know the window is drafty, do this before the weather hits so you can stay warmer year-round.
- If the spaces around your doors or behind cabinets and attics are not insulated, now would be a good time to fill the cracks. A poorly insulated house can result in more heat loss. Make this a weekend project and you will save money in the long run.
Again, folks: We WILL be having another bad winter. Electricity rates WILL rise. Don’t get caught saying you wish you would have been more prepared for the winter when that late-fall snow storm takes you by surprise. By following a few of these simple tips, you can get your home ready before the freezing temperatures arrive. It can also teach you some basic consumption practices for the future You DO NOT want to be like me, getting caught in a snow storm with nowhere to turn. Small changes can add up, so don’t waste another minute!