Your electric bills may not be as high during the winter as they are in the summer when the AC is chugging away, but you have probably seen an increase since the fall months. Higher winter electric bills are a common occurrence.
There are a few reasons for the increase in kilowatt-hours once things start cooling off.
Fewer Hours of Daylight Mean Higher Lighting Costs
Lighting accounts for 9% of electric use in U.S. homes. It’s the third largest source of electricity consumption noted in the Annual Energy Outlook 2018. In the winter when the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun, we get fewer hours of sunlight each day. That means we need more light artificially, which in turn bumps up the electric bill.
December is the darkest month of the year whereas June is the sunniest. In most northern states, you will only get about eight and a half hours of sunlight during the winter solstice – nine hours if you are lucky. Just be happy you are not in Fairbanks, Alaska where the sun will only be out less than three and a half hours. The further you get from the equator the more pronounced the daylight difference gets. Daylight savings fall back makes matters worse.
For fun, you can use the calculator from the U.S. Navy to figure out how many hours of sunlight you’ll get in your location this winter.
Time to Switch to CFLs and LEDs
Winter is the perfect time to make the switch to CFL and LED light bulbs if you have not already. Sure, they cost a little more upfront compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, but you will make that money back and then some. CFLs and LEDs use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs. They also last 25 times longer.
The Colder it is Outside the More Energy it Takes to Keep Things Warm Inside
There is another downside to having fewer hours of daylight during the winter – colder temperatures. The angle of the sun also plays a role in making it colder during this time of year.
Depending on which survey you look at, space heating accounts for anywhere from 6-15% of overall electric use. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) 36% of U.S. homes rely on electric furnaces and pumps for heat. Electric heating sources are most common in the southeast, but you can find homes with electric furnaces and pumps in the very cold northeast region. Portable electric heaters are also the most common secondary heating source across the nation.
Weatherize Your Home to Keep the Heat In
Every homeowner should take measures to weatherize in the winter. With a few inexpensive products (caulk and weather-stripping), you can seal up cracks and crevices around doors and windows that let warm air seep out. You can go a step further by adding extra insulation to the attic and weatherizing around outdoor electric outlets.
Get Your Heating Equipment Serviced
Heating equipment will be working overtime during the winter. When your furnace or pump and ducts are in perfect condition, they are super-efficient. You can do some maintenance measures yourself, like keeping the filters clean. However, it is best to have a professional service electric heating equipment and check the ducts for leaks once a year.
Roll Out the Rugs
Adding rugs to hard floors can make a big difference underfoot. Rugs also help to insulate the floors and prevent drafts making it feel warmer inside the house.
In Winter We’re Inside More Using Electric Entertainment
During the winter we are more likely to hunker down inside than spend our free time outdoors. You can again blame this trend on less daylight and colder temperatures.
The more time we spend inside the more likely we are to consume electricity in an effort to entertain ourselves. Televisions, DVRs, gaming consoles, computers, and smartphones are all running on electricity. TVs and related equipment account for 6% of electric use while computers eat up another 2% of electricity usage.
Put Devices on a Power strip
Putting devices on a power strip is one way to beat rising energy costs. This simple piece of equipment can help reduce standby power use, which costs customers up to $100 a year.
Focus on Electric-Free Entertainment
It can be hard to turn your attention away from screens, but winter is the perfect time to cozy up with a good book. Since everyone is inside, you can also start a family game night where you break out the board games.
Harder to get Hot Water
Water heating can use more electricity than space heating – around 10% of total electric usage. This is particularly true if your water heater is located in the attic or an uninsulated garage. When it is cold, the water heater has to work harder to warm up and there is a higher likelihood of heat loss.
Insulate the Water Heater and Pipes
Use a water heater insulation jacket with a value of R-8 or higher to reduce heat loss by as much as 45%. While you are at it, go ahead and put foam or sleeves around the water heater pipes for added insulation. Bonus: Since the water heats up quicker, you will also reduce water consumption.
Electrifying Holiday Decorations Increase Energy Bills
If you are the type that loves to deck the halls (and living room and exterior) during the holidays, you are bound to see a bigger electric bill. The string lights, inflatable yard decorations, and motorized figures spread joy while consuming a lot of electricity.
Timing is everything
One of the best things you can do is to put your decorations and displays on a timer. Set the timer so that they come on about a half hour after sunset and go off around 11 pm or so.
Use LED Holiday Lighting
Like the bulbs around your home, the most energy efficient option is to use LED holiday lights. Bonus: you will be able to use them for more holiday seasons.
Provider Power can help you freeze out the higher electric costs this winter. Get competitive electricity supply rates in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts without any disruptions or inconvenience. Discover the difference of deregulated energy!