Tips for reducing energy costs at home this winter

Sky high energy bills can be a budget breaker.

Opening the electric and natural gas bill this time of year can be a shocking experience. We are at the peak of the cold weather heating season with more to come until spring arrives! So, what can you do to lower the cost of lighting and heating your home? Below are some suggestions.

When possible, use cold water to wash clothing. Check the cycles on your washing machine. Use the warm water setting instead of hot with a cold rise if you would prefer not to wash clothes in cold water. When replacing a washing machine, look for a high efficiency washer.

Cover your hot water pipes with pipe insulation wherever they are accessible, especially within three feet of the hot water tank. Be sure to keep foam insulation at least six inches from the flue of a gas hot water heater.

Lower your thermostat. Lowering it just a few degrees can significantly reduce heating costs. If possible, install a programmable thermostat and set the thermostat to a lower heat setting during the times of day when you are not at home. Michigan State University Extension experts advise that a digital programmable thermostat can save 10 percent on heating costs over a year.

Close drapes and blinds at night in the winter to help keep the cold out. Keep warm air registers clear of furniture and other obstructions such as bookcases, drapes, etc.

Turn out the lights when you leave a room. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs when they burn out. Turn off your computer when it is not in use.

Check out the Energy Star website and complete a do it yourself home assessment. The site offers recommendations for maintaining your home heating system as well as suggestions for using energy star products throughout your home and many tips for saving on energy costs. Even if you are renting an apartment or house, there are tips that can save energy for renters too.

Be proactive and take action now to reduce your electric and heating bills. 

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