Great news! Experts are predicting that this winter will be much milder than last year. Still, it’s always wise to have energy-saving systems in place to save money on your winter bills. Implement as many of these tips as possible to keep the utilities in your Minnesota or western Wisconsin home low.
Adjust your water heater
Did you know that water heating can account for 25 percent of your total energy costs? The easiest way to save money on your water bills – without enforcing shorter showers or reusing water – is to turn down your water heater so the maximum setting is at 120 degrees. Water becomes scalding at about 126 degrees, so a lower setting will be safer while also ensuring that you don’t overpay for a water temperature setting you don’t use.
Prep the fireplace
Do you use your fireplace? If not, be sure to plug and fully seal the chimney flue so your warm air isn’t flowing out the top of your fireplace. Even a very small opening will cost you money in the long run, so be sure there aren’t any leaks.
Remember – if you do use your fireplace, it’s safest to keep the flue open until after the ashes have fully cooled. If it’s an extraordinarily cold night, you may end up wasting money by lighting a fire and waiting for the embers to fully extinguish.
Turn down the thermostat when you can
It’s possible to save up to 10 percent on your heating and cooling bills by turning your heat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day. That may sound impossible, but it’s actually quite easy if you turn down your thermostat when you leave for work or head to bed. Warning: this will make it more difficult to get out of bed in the morning!
For even more convenience, consider getting a programmable thermostat, which you can automatically set around your work or sleeping hours. (Hint: If you set that thermostat to begin rising 20 minutes before your alarm goes off in the morning, you may be able to get out of bed a little easier.)
One last tip on the thermostat wars that will likely consume you until April appears: Xcel Energy recommends homeowners keep their homes at 68 degrees during the winter. This is cooler than most people’s ideal interior temperature, but long pants and warm slippers will help you through the coldest stints of Midwestern winters.
Save even more money with rebates
If you have Xcel Energy in Minnesota or western Wisconsin, be sure to check to see if you qualify for rebates on ENERGY STAR appliances, heating or cooling systems or water heater improvements. The rebates often take money off the upfront cost and installation of products that will save you money in the long run. Energy-efficient homes could also net you more upon resale, so you may as well enjoy these systems for a few years before selling.
In summary, it’s critical that you keep your home comfortable, but not too comfortable, this winter. We can’t guarantee this winter will be milder, but with the above energy-saving tips, you’ll feel less financial strain as you wait for spring to arrive again.