20 Tips To Save Money On Energy Cost During Winter

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Winter is coming! If you’re looking to save on energy cost this winter, you are not alone.

Winter comes with increased need for heating around the house, with a direct increase in energy costs. But with a few minor improvements, you can set yourself up for some savings.

The 20 tips below will help you save money on energy cost around the house during winter.

20 Smart Ways to Save Money During Winter

1. Check for Government Energy Efficiency Programs

Depending on where you live, you may qualify for some government sponsored energy saving plans.

For example, the Government of Ontario had a $100 million AffordAbility Fund with the aim of helping electricity customers lower their bills.

Applicants may receive energy saving kits (LED Bulbs, smart power strips, filter whistle, clothesline etc.), in-home visit from a professional home energy advisor and upgrades to Energy Star equipment depending on their income. Unfortunately, it stopped accepting new applications on July 31, 2020.

Other provinces may have similar programs. There is Efficiency Manitoba, Energy Efficiency Alberta (integrated into another program effective Sep 2020), so it’s worth checking what is available in your province.

Your utility provider may also offer some program that help you save money on your energy use. For example, Enbridge has a Winterproofing program that provides insulation, draft proofing and smart thermostat for qualifying customers.

Related: How To Apply for the Canada Home Retrofit Program

2. Take Advantage of Off-Peak Periods

Electricity bills vary based on the time of day and seasons, so using electricity during off-peak periods can save you a lot on your energy bills.

Get familiar with the off-peak, mid-peak and on-peak periods and plan your electricity usage around them. You can easily get this information from your utility provider.

In Ontario, Canada, off-peak period is 7pm to 7am on weekdays and 24 hours during the weekend.

Limit heavy electricity usage like laundry and ironing to these periods to cut down on your electricity cost.

3. Get A Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat will save you some money on energy cost all through the year, but it is especially useful during winter.

It will automatically adjust the temperature in your house based on a series of pre-set schedule.

Program the thermostat to a lower temperature when you’re away and during the night. But make sure you set it and forget it because large and regular swings in the temperature settings will end up using more energy.

Luckily, you can get a decent one for less than $100, like this one on Amazon.ca or this one on Amazon.com. You’ll be able to recover the cost within a year through the energy savings.

4. Lower Your Thermostat

The lower your thermostat settings, the more you can potentially save on energy cost during winter.

The ideal temperature will vary from one person to another, but here is a general guideline:

  • 20oC (68oF): During the day when you are home
  • 18oC (64oF): At night
  • 16oC: When you’re away

Use your programmable thermostat to pre-set all the temperature but be careful not to set it too low. If the temperature is too low, the water in the pipes can freeze and the pipes can burst.

5. Invest In A Humidifier

Humidifiers help add moisture to the air. A properly humidified air will feel warmer and let you lower the temperature in your home, and indirectly reduce your energy cost.

Monitor the humidity level. While there is no single recommended humidity level, the ideal level for health and comfort is between 30% and 50%.

And the good part?

They are cheaper than you probably think. With a search on amazon.com, you’ll get several options for less than $50 like this one.

Canadian residents can check out this one from Honeywell on amazon.ca.

6. Insulate Your Home

A properly insulated home will save you some energy cost by keeping your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Basements alone can account for 20 percent of a home’s heat loss, so it’s a good place to start.

Other places to consider are roofs, attics, walls, windows and doors.

7. Get Rid of Drafts

Drafts or air leaks account for about 25 percent of heat loss. So controlling or minimizing air leakage will save you some energy costs.

Electrical outlets and switches, glass panes, doors, windows, fireplaces and attic hatches are some of the places you should look at.

Use insulating foams, caulk or weather strip these areas.

8. Switch Off Appliances

Turn off most appliances when you’re leaving the house and leave only the essential ones running.

Unplug the microwave, printer, game consoles, appliances in the guest room and other rarely used devices.

Also, get in the habit of switching off lights and other electronics when you leave a room with no plan to return for a while.

You may consider getting a smart power strip to make it easier. See the next point below.

9. Get Some Smart Power Bars

5 to 10 percent of your electricity bill may be attributed to phantom loads. When plugged in, many electrical devices continue to draw on power even if you’re not using them.

With a power bar, you can easily switch off many plugged-in devices at once when you leave the room or go to bed at night.

Better still, buy a smart power bar with a timer or sensor to detect if someone is in the room or not.

There are also models with a master socket for the TV. They will automatically cut power to all the other sockets once the TV is turned off.

Check out this one on amazon.ca that is compatible with Alexa and comes with a remote control. Or this one on amazon.com.

10. Switch To LED bulbs

save money by switching to led bulbs

Not only do LED bulbs save you money because they use less energy, they also last longer.  

A LED bulb can save you up to 80% in energy and last up to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs.

Always use LED bulbs in rooms that consume light the most, like the bedroom, sitting room and kitchen.

And consider using dimmer switches to save even more on electricity and lengthen the life of the bulbs.

You can get a pack of 6 AmazonBasics 60W led bulbs on amazon.ca or here on amazon.com for U.S. residents.

11. Use Motion Sensors And Timers

Using motion sensors and timers around the house will cut down your energy bills, especially on outdoors lights.

Rather than keeping the lights up all through the night, the lights will only come on when the sensor detects a movement and it is automatically switched off after a few seconds or minutes, depending on your settings.

Light timers can also help you keep burglars out when you’re away from the house. Simply install them on a few lights around the house and set them to come up at specific times so the house looks occupied.

12. Wash on Full Load

Full loads use the same energy as washing a few items.

To save on your electricity cost, plan your laundry smartly and wash in bulk. If you only have a few items, consider hand washing them – you’ll save on water and energy bills.

And as mentioned earlier, use your washing machine during off-peak periods to save even more on your electricity bills.

13. Do laundry with cold water

This will save you money during Winter and all through the year.

Washing machines use up to 90 percent of the energy they consume on heating water.

Unless you’re trying to get rid of oil stains or washing clothing items used by a sick person, washing with cold water is effective enough in removing dirt and stains.

So you can drastically cut your energy cost by switching from hot to cold temperature settings.

14. Reduce Water Temperature

Water heaters account for almost 20 percent of the energy used by Canadians. From doing dishes, laundry, shower and baths, we can hardly do without hot water.

But you can save a lot by using hot water smartly.

Start by lowering the temperature of the water heater, but not too low to avoid bacterial growth. Natural Resources Canada recommends 60oC.

Also take shorter baths, run your dishwasher only when it’s full, fix water leaks and insulate the first 2-3 meters of the hot and cold water pipes with pop-on insulating foam sleeves.

15. Buy Energy Star® Appliances

Buy energy efficient appliances by looking for the energy star logo

When buying new appliances, look for the ones with Energy Star logo. They may be slightly more expensive, but the energy savings over their life will more than cover for any extra cash you pay now.

The Energy Star logo is internationally recognized and means that the appliance has been certified to be energy efficient.

For example, an Energy Star washing machine will use 25 percent less energy and 33 percent less water.

16. Schedule A Furnace Maintenance

To ensure your furnace is performing at peak efficiency, schedule the yearly maintenance in autumn or fall, just before winter.

And if you’ve not serviced the furnace in a while, arrange one immediately.

17. Change Furnace Filter Regularly

Over time, your furnace filter will get clogged with dust and other particles. This means the furnace will have to work harder and use more energy than is necessary.

Changing the filter regularly will prevent this. Some thermostats will display an alert to change the filter or install a filter whistle to be alerted when it’s time to replace the filter.

Here’s a pack of 6 from 3M on amazon.ca or here on amazon.com. Just make sure you buy the right size for your furnace.

18. Use Curtains And Blinds Smartly

save money by using curtains and blinds smartly

A smart way to save on heating costs during winter is by putting your curtains and blinds to good use.

Open them during the day to let the sun in and warm the rooms. At night, close them to reduce heat loss.

19. Dress Appropriately

Instead of turning up the heat in your house, simply layer up with extra clothes.

Wear a sweater, thermal clothes, and some thick socks while indoors. You’ll be able to withstand slightly lower temperatures and save on energy costs.

20. Consult A Professional

Schedule an appointment with an energy advisor. They’ll check around your home and help you make decisions about upgrades and improvements.

This may have an upfront cost, but it will significantly save you for years to come. And you’ll have a more comfortable and healthier home.

Final Thoughts

Winter generally comes with higher energy costs but with smart decisions and little improvements around your home, you will significantly cut down your energy cost.

Some of these tips may require you to spend some money upfront but see the costs as an investment that will pay for itself for years to come in lower electricity cost and energy usage.

Have any other tips for saving on energy cost during the winter or all through the year? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Simon is a CPA by day and a Personal Finance Blogger by night. With over a decade experience in financial services, he's passionate about personal finance, investing and helping people take control of their financial life.

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