The latest Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) revealed that heating our homes is one of the largest portions of an electric bill. Space heating accounts for 15% of total residential energy use.
When it’s cold outside the HVAC system has to work harder to keep a home at a constant temperature. That means energy use is going to increase even if you don’t bump the thermostat up a few degrees. But that doesn’t mean your energy bill has to increase. There are steps you can take to combat the cold weather without increasing energy use.
Cold Weather Combat Strategy #1 – Layer Up
If it feels a little chilly inside the first thing you should do is put on an extra layer of clothes or grab a blanket. Even though we’re warm blooded creatures, people can acclimate somewhat to the cold. Multiple studies by the U.S. Army have definitively shown that if we’re exposed to the cold on a regular basis we’ll get used to it.
So throwing on a coat or blanket when you get chilly is a great solution for warming up quickly while still getting exposure to the cold to help you adjust without the extra layers.
Cold Weather Combat Strategy #2 – Adjust the Temperature Down Before Bed
Now that you’re bundled up, dropping the temperature on the thermostat by at least a few degrees shouldn’t be too painful. Actually, adjusting the temperature down before bed could help you sleep better.
Researchers have found that the ideal sleeping temperature is 60-67 degrees. At this temperature REM sleep is more stable.
The Department of Energy has estimated that for each degree that the temperature is lowered you’ll use 3% less energy. So if you like the winter thermostat settings to be 74 degrees when you’re awake, but can lower the temperature to 64 when you’re sleeping, then you’ll use 30% less energy during those hours. You can use this same strategy when there’s no one at home to reduce energy use even more.
Cold Weather Combat Strategy #3 – Use Ventilation to Your Advantage
Energy efficiency is impacted by the ventilation and airflow in your home. You could spend energy heating a guest bedroom that has no one in it, or you could close off the vents and there’s a little less space the HVAC system has to heat. And if you have crawl spaces under the house, close off the foundation vents to keep the cold from seeping up through the floors.
Cold Weather Combat Strategy #4 – Minimize the Use of an Energy Efficient Electric Heater
The goal is to reduce energy use, so using an additional device is somewhat counterintuitive. However, in some cases using an energy efficient electric heater can be beneficial if it means the thermostat doesn’t get turned up. They can also be useful in garages and additions that aren’t tied into the HVAC system.
Even though it costs less than a quarter an hour to run, the electricity use adds up. Space heaters can also be a serious safety hazard if not used correctly. It’s best to minimize use as much as possible, and never leave a space heater on when you’re not in the room.
Cold Weather Combat Strategy #5 – Monitor Your Energy Use
It’s a good idea to monitor your home energy use throughout the year to help control the costs. Regular monitoring will tell you if energy consumption is going up and can even help you identify ways to save. One of the biggest advantages of monitoring energy use is you’ll spot a problem quickly before it costs you a lot of money. You can also figure out more ways to reduce energy use when you look at what is using energy in the home.
Combat the cold weather energy increases with a fixed rate plan from Provider Power. We make your utility bills more predictable by offering a locked in rate for 12+ months. See if Provider Power energy plans are available in your area.