How to save on your winter power bills

How to save on your winter power bills

Experts predict natural gas prices to soar this winter, making many people worried about the price of heating their homes.

If you’re working from home, you may be wondering how to keep your winter power bills in check and avoid freezing in the pajamas you didn’t change out of. This seemingly impossible task can be done with a bonus of conserving energy.

Heating your home uses the most energy in the wintertime, whether your heat is generated from gas, electricity or water, said Travis Hawks, sustainability specialist with Advocate Aurora Health.  Appliances like space heaters, computers and lighting to fight the darker days also use up energy, which increases electricity costs in the wintertime.

Saving energy helps save money and contributes to healthier environment for the communities and world we live in,” Hawks said. “Emissions from our energy usage contribute to climate change and environmental degradation, which will have significant impacts on the earth and the life it supports, including our own.”

Fossil fuels provide most of the energy in the Midwest, Hawks explained. Coal and gas-powered plants emit harmful pollutants in the atmosphere such as mercury; sulfur dioxide, which contributes to acid rain; and particulate matter air which contribute to coronary heart disease, lung cancer, asthma, and developmental conditions.

These powerplants and their waste products create environmental justice issues because they’re often located in low-income communities, he said. They’re also a huge source of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Mining and fracking practices also directly contribute to environmental degradation and often pollute groundwater.

Hawks shared some tips for conserving energy, staying warm and fighting climate change this winter:

  • Open your blinds in the daytime and close them at night. The sun is a great source of heat in the daytime, but your windows can also be a source of heat loss especially at night. Closing the blinds at night helps to keep your windows more insulated. Consider purchasing insulated curtains to maximize the energy efficiency of your windows
  • Insulate your windows by sealing them with a clear plastic wrap and caulking around the frame if needed, especially in older homes with air leaks and drafts.
  • Adjust the thermostat, adjust to 68 degree while home and go 7-10 degrees down when you’re not home or sleeping.
  • Close doors and vents in unused room.
  • Bundle up with sweaters, blankets, and a hot beverage vs. using a space heater.
  • Using LED lights for decorations, LEDs use 75% less energy than standard incandescent lights and last up to 25 times longer.
  • Adjust your water heater. Water heaters take up a lot of energy, only behind heating and cooling costs typically, the recommended temperature is no higher than 120 degrees.
  • Change furnace filters. Replace or clean furnace filters to help keep your air clean and your furnace running more efficiently up to once a month.

There are also ways to practice energy conservation no matter the season, those include:

  • Turn off lights when they’re not in use and open blinds to allow natural light
  • Switch to LED bulbs that use less electricity
  • Put your computer in power saving mode when you’re using it and turn it off when you’re done for the day
  • Turn off your monitors if you plan on being away for more than half an hour
  • Turn off and unplug appliances like coffee makers, microwaves and cell phone chargers


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  1. Good article. Also, think about what electric appliances you really need. Dishwasher? Do them by hand. Dryer? Get a clothes rack. Electric can opener? Get a good hand crank one. Leaf blower? Get out a rake. These are only a few examples.

    • A full load dishwasher is more net saving (water) than hand washing so I would not recommend hand washing as a “saver” . Maybe hand washing saves a little electricity but hand washing dishes typically uses more water than loading up full load dishwasher.

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