How to Calculate and Reduce Winter Energy Expenses

by Editor on November 1, 2013

Expense Sheet

We all know that energy costs can skyrocket during the winter months. Between the demand for heating to keep our homes nice and cozy and the increased need for lighting due to shorter daylight hours, utility bills can far exceed what you might normally pay. And considering that the holidays come with plenty of other costs that you don’t have during the rest of the year, you may be looking for ways to estimate your budget and potentially save some money on your winter energy expenses. Here are a few tips that should help you achieve your goals this winter.

You’ll want to start by calculating your expenses. And while you can’t say with 100% accuracy what your costs are going to come out to, you can definitely make an educated guess based on a number of factors. If you keep good records you can first look at the increase you’ve seen in years past, perhaps averaging out costs for winter payments across several years. This could give you some idea of the percentage your energy bill is likely to increase. Of course, most people don’t keep records that far back. So you could also look at the energy you’re currently using and attempt to forecast the amount your usage will increase in the coming months. When you know the rate you’re paying for energy by kilowatt hour and how much energy is needed to run lights, HVAC equipment, and so on, you can extrapolate what your predicted costs might come out to. Or you could simply try to recall if your bill doubled, tripled, or increased by a larger increment last year. It doesn’t have to be exact.

The next thing you’ll want to do is implement a few conservation efforts around the house. This could start with scheduling a home energy audit to find areas of excess and waste. When you know where your problem areas are you can beef up insulation, install weather stripping, and add caulking and sealant as needed to keep your structure airtight. Afterwards you’ll notice that it’s easier to regulate the temperature in your home and you’ll enjoy greater energy efficiency as a result. Of course, you might not have the cash on hand for these up-front expenses, even if they stand to save you a lot of money in the long run. But you can always implement such upgrades down the line and try some energy-saving strategies right now that will cost you nothing.

One great option is to start programming your thermostat. If you have a programmable model and you’re not using it appropriately, you might as well be throwing money away. So take the time to set a schedule that accounts for your absence during the day (for work, school, or whatever takes you out of the house). This will cut back on HVAC usage when no one is home to enjoy it, as well as heat your home incrementally before you return rather than drawing a huge amount of energy to boost the temperature several degrees at once. Of course, you’ll also want to make sure your HVAC system is in good condition in order to get optimum energy efficiency. Whether you need to learn how to replace the filter, find heat pump maintenance tips, or simply call in the pros at your preferred HVAC service provider for annual inspection, cleaning, and repair, you should know that a well-maintained heating system can only help when it comes to energy efficiency, conservation, and savings during the winter months.

photo by: pshegubj

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