It’s the Texas double whammy for electricity bills. We often think that only our summer electricity bills are high. But your winter electricity bill can also be expensive depending on our winter weather.
The reality is, 60% of Texans use electricity to heat their homes. And even if you’re among the 35% that heat with natural gas, you’ll use power to control the thermostat and igniter, and to blow the heat around your house. Here are tips on how to reduce your winter electricity bill, plus how to properly size a space heater for your room.
10 Ways to Save on Your Electricity Bill This Winter
Saving on your winter electricity bill is similar to the ways to save on your summer electricity. Focus on conservation and keeping your home air tight.
1. Weatherstrip Doors & Windows
Try the dollar bill test to see if you need weatherstripping around your doors and windows. Place a dollar bill in the closed door or window. If you can easily pull it out? You don’t have a tight seal and cold air can come into your home.
2. Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat can learn your patterns and automatically adjust heating and cooling to reach a set point. Plus you can manage it remotely, which is helpful if you participate in an electricity plan with energy saving rewards.
3. Keep Air Vents Open
The running debate in homes across America. Should you shut the air vents in unused rooms or leave them open? After all, it doesn’t make sense to heat an empty room. Or does it? Your central heating system is designed to flow across all those vents. Shutting a vent can cause increased air pressure in your ventilation system. That can cause holes or cracks in your ductwork. Better to leave all the vents open.
4. Add Insulation
Insulation degrades over time. If it’s been a while since you’ve refreshed your insulation, consider adding more before the winter. A good rule of thumb: If you can see the floor beams in your attic, you need more insulation.
5. Install an Attic Tent
An attic tent will insulate the attic access door from the rest of your home. That keeps cold air in the attic, where it belongs, and warm air in your home.
6. Keep the Fireplace Closed
Many modern homes have a gas or electric fireplace that can turn on with the flick of a switch. If you have a traditional wood fireplace, limit the number of fires to special occasions only. And be sure to close the damper, or flue, after you use it. Approximately 80% of the heat from your fireplace goes right out the chimney. And if you leave the flue open, you’re just letting the heat from your home escape.
7. Insulate Your Water Heater
If you have electric heat in your home, chances are you also have an electric water heater. If your water heater is in a non-insulated area of your home, like your garage or attic, wrap it up! The cold air makes your water heater work overtime to maintain hot water on demand. Purchase a water heater blanket online or at any hardware store.
8. Seal Outside-Facing Baseboards
Improper seals around your baseboards can let cold air in. Apply clear caulk along the edge where the wall and floor meet, on the outside walls of your home.
9. Dress for the Weather
What your mother always said is true. If you’re cold, put a sweater on. Set your thermostat at 68° and dress for the season to save on your winter heating bill.
10. Use Heat and Light from Sunshine
Bright sunshine on a cold day can warm up your home, especially in rooms with a southern exposure. Just make sure to shut the blinds or curtains at night. That lets you make use of sunshine during the day and get the insulating benefits of your curtains at night.
Want more tips? Use our DIY home energy audit to find and fix more energy waste in your home.
And make sure you aren’t on an off-contract electricity rate going into winter. If you’re on a month to month electricity rate, you’ll pay a market rate. Check current electricity rates and lock in a fixed rate plan.
Compare Texas Electricity Rates & Plans
FAQs About Winter Heating Bills
In addition to these tips, here are answers to frequently asked questions on how to lower winter electricity bills.
FAQ: Will a space heater save money on my winter electric bill?
A space heater can save you money on your winter electric bill, but only if you use it wisely.
Many consumers don’t buy the right size space heater for their home. They’ll run the space heater all day long to try and heat a large room, and never feel warm enough.
That’s because the space heater needs to be properly sized for the room you want to heat.
The general rule of thumb? You’ll need 10 watts of heating power for every square foot of floor area in the room. So if you want to heat a 10 x 10 room, or 100 square feet, you’ll need a 1,000 watt space heater.
Your space heater won’t need to run all the time. Most modern space heaters have a set point. Once the room hits the temperature goal, your space heater will shut off. As the room cools, it will start up again.
In this example, we’ll assume you have a well insulated home and that the space heater runs for 4 hours during an 8 hour period.
Appliance: Space Heater used to heat a 10 x 10 home office
Number of Watts: 1000 watts
Hours used per day: 4 hours
1000 watts X 4 hours = 4,000 watt-hours per day
4,000 watt-hours per day / 1000 = 4 kWh per day
4 kWh per day * 20 work days in a month = 80 kWh per month
A space heater is a great option if you work from home and just want to heat your office. And it’s a great option if you spend evenings in a TV room that can be shut off from the rest of the house. A space heater is a bad option if you have an open floor plan.
When at home, use 68° to 72° as your winter set point. When you leave the house, drop the thermostat to 55° to 60°. And at night, set your thermostat to 65°, which, according to the Sleep Foundation, is the best temperature for sleep.
Using these settings can help keep your winter electric bill low. Your family won’t protest as much if you drop the temperature by one degree each week. That lets everyone adjust to the lower thermostat setting.
Setting your thermostat to 68° during the winter may sound extreme if you are used to 72°. Your family won’t protest as much if you drop the thermostat by one degree each week. That lets everyone adjust to the lower thermostat setting.