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20 Ways to Save Money This Winter

20 Ways to Save Money This Winter
Written by Oana Schneider

If you’re looking for ways to save money, it’s all about the percentages. Let’s say that you would like to save on utility bills for the winter. To keep your home warm during the coldest months of the year, you would be paying 15% or more on utility bills.

The good news is that 50% of your home’s overall electricity usage comes from heating and cooling – so if you take active steps to make your heating and cooling system more efficient, you will save a lot of money.

Keeping your home warm is just one of the ways that you can save money this winter. Read on to find out what else you can do to keep the costs down during the coldest months of the year.

20 Ways to Save Money During the Winter Season

How many members are there in your household? If you will get each and every one to cooperate with your efforts to save money, it will add up to a lot. So after checking out the ways for you to save money during the winter season, get all the other family members to do the same. Here are the top 20 ways by which you can save money during the winter season

Use a thermostat

If you don’t already have one, use a programmable thermostat. For every degree that the thermostat is set back for eight hours, you will save around 1% of your heating bills every year. Although you can turn it down manually, you don’t want to sacrifice those precious dollars that you will save due to forgetfulness.

Go online to look for programmable thermostats that are affordable, easy-to-use and durable.

Use a space heater

Most families have that one room in the house where they always hang out. If it’s the living room or the entertainment/computer area, use a space heater and keep it at a 62-degree temperature. This will save you around $200 per year. When having one installed, make sure to place it on a level, hard surface and away from anything that is considered flammable.

Use an air humidifier

A humidifier is a great tool to use during the winter because it adds moisture to the air which makes the interior of any room feel warmer.

Reverse the ceiling fan

If you have ceiling fans, use them to make heat rise up. Flip the toggle to make it run in a clockwise direction, which allows cold air to rise and heated air to warm up the room and the walls. Make sure the speed setting is low so the air will not create a draft.

Check for faulty doors and windows

During winter, your goal is to seal as much of the heated air in as possible. This can easily escape through the gaps in doors and windows, so always check for faulty areas.

You can light incense and see if the smoke will pass through another room while the door or windows are closed. If the smoke does pass through, you can seal up the leaks using caulk. Also check out the areas where there are pipes, electrical conduits or vents.

Caulk is perfect for small gaps but for bigger ones, ask your local hardware store for a recommendation.

Eliminate wasted energy

As mentioned earlier, if there’s a room in your house where you always hang out as a family during the winter, it is best to close off all the other rooms. Turn off the lights and heaters in unoccupied rooms or unused parts of the house.

If you have an extra refrigerator in the garage which you use to keep cold drinks, turn it off during the winter. The same goes for ventilating fans in the bathroom, kitchen, and the fireplace damper if you are not using it.

Insulate your attic

The roof is one of the biggest areas where heated air from the inside can possibly escape, and where draft can easily come in. Check on your attic.

Does the insulation cover the floor joists? If not, you can add more of the same type of insulation, or one which has a better insulation rating. Ask the staff at the hardware store if there are insulation materials that you can install yourself, although you need to be careful about drywall or fireproof material coverage which is required in some cases, depending on the material that you will get.

Insulate your water heater

 Place an insulating blanket on your water to keep the heat trapped. When heat is prevented from being dissipated outwards, you can save a lot of energy from being wasted.

Change your furnace filter

Even the simple act of cleaning your furnace filter can save you a significant amount of money on heating costs. With a dirty filter, air flow is restricted so the furnace works doubly hard to heat up the room.

Check on the owner’s manual so that you would know how to clean or replace the filter, and perform steps to tune it up for maximum performance right before the winter season.

Replace your lights with CFLs

This is the basic energy-saving rule that all household owners must follow. If you’re still using traditional lights or incandescent bulbs, replace them with CFLs or compact fluorescent bulbs. Doing so will save you up to 75% on utility bills for lighting.

Consider getting a home energy audit

A home energy audit is a service offered by your local electric company. It can either be done for free or for a minimal fee. So what exactly is the benefit of getting one? With a home energy audit, you would have an idea about which home appliances suck up energy the most.

Which rooms in the house require the most energy to heat up? What else can you do to lessen your home’s electrical consumption after a professional has assessed your energy usage? Even for a minimal payment, this service will go a long way towards minimizing your utility bills.

Re-position your sitting furniture

If you have a sofa, a loveseat, a couch or a favorite reading chair, do not position it in front of a radiator. The radiator’s heat should come onto you at full force, and not be blocked by a huge chunk of furniture like a sofa.

Dress warm

What cheaper way is there to save on heating costs than to dress as warmly as possible while you’re inside the house? Use heated blankets in your room, wear thermal underwear, layer up and drink lots of hot chocolate, tea or coffee to warm you up nicely.

20 Ways to Save Money This Winter

When indoors, dress as warmly as possible!

Add weather-stripping to your doors and windows

Aside from the roof, draft can also escape through doors and windows. An ideal solution for this is to use weather-stripping. Complete kits are available in hardware stores so that you can go for a do-it-yourself job.

Wash clothes in cold water

Even water needs to be saved during the winter season. Instead of using the extra energy to wash clothes in a warm cycle, simply use cold water. Other ways to conserve water includes shortening your shower time, turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth or the shower off while shampooing your hair or lathering your skin.

Wash clothes and run the dishwasher only during full cycles to save on water and electricity. Again, get all family members to do this so that you can enjoy bigger savings.

Use energy-efficient holiday decorations

The winter season coincides with the holiday season, so you will use extra energy to light up those Christmas decorations. To save money, replace traditional Christmas lights with LEDs or energy-saving bulbs. Not only are they more energy-saving, but they are also built to last you for several holidays to come.

Don’t turn on the exhaust fan

If you don’t want to completely turn it off, limit the running time for exhaust fans. After you are done cooking in the kitchen or using the bathroom, turn the exhaust fans off after about 20 minutes. If you have an old model that lets cold air drop, replace it with a high-efficiency model which usually has a damper.

Put a door sweep under the garage door

For homes designed with a garage that is separate from the main house, it’s possible for the heat to escape under the door. Adding a door sweep which is a metal strip that firmly touches the floor will block any sort of air flow under the door.

Air up your car tires

When temperature drops, the pressure in your car tires will also lower. Not only will under-inflated tires possibly cause a blowout, but it can also hurt your gas mileage. This means that you are spending more than you actually have to on gas.

A simple solution is to get a cheap tire gauge, then air up each tire to the recommended maximum tire pressure based on your owner’s manual. Do this every two months to avoid the extra car maintenance costs.

Cook meals at home

Finally, during the winter season, preparing your meals at home lets you heat up not just the food – but the kitchen and the rest of the house as well. Although some of the heat from the oven does escape, the extra heat makes the temperature inside rise. A bonus is that the smell of whatever dish you cooked up will wake the rest of the house, so the kids will come running to the kitchen.

Follow these tips so that you can slash your household maintenance budget during the coldest months of the year.

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for DontPayFull.com as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.

19 Comments

  • Wow! I’m so happy I found this! Our bedroom window is drafty and it gets so cold in here, it’s especially bad at night when my throat burns. I had never heard of weatherstripping before your article. I just went with the “dress more” thing, keeping my cowl around my neck at all times and a big blanket to hide in not far away!

    • Energy efficient windows are the perfect thing to cure a drafty room. They keep the heat in during the winter and keep the heat out during the summer. It’s a win-win situation, and they’re not too expensive these days. I’d recommend them, and most brands offer some decent temperature control at the very least.

      • A huge added benefit with insulated (dual pane) windows is that they keep out a lot of noise from outside as well! The vacuum that is created between the two panes of glass that works really well to reduce noise transfer from outside in much the same way it works to reduce heat transfer in/out.

        It’s actually quite amazing to hear the difference between single and double-pane glass in terms of the amount of sound that gets through.

  • Insulating your attic really does make a difference. I did mine in October and I can really notice the difference compared to previous winters. I also agree that weatherstripping is really effective too.

    • That’s very true. We have an older house and we needed to add more insulation to our attic, the floor (between main living area and the basement) and the wall between the house and the garage. Those areas were either insulated poorly or not at all. Updating them was a large one time expense but it has saved us on heating bills since then. We also use our programmable thermostat to lower the temperature while everyone is sleeping and snuggled safely under the covers and increase it just before the first alarm so getting out of bed isn’t so bad.

  • These are great tips! I had no idea that using a space heater can actually save you up to $200- for some reason I thought they were just as or even more expensive than regular heat. I also had no idea you can reverse fans so that they make the air warm rather than cool- that idea is pure genius! I also didn’t realize replacing furnace filters mattered at all- I’ll have to see about doing that this weekend. This list has been very useful for me, thanks!

    • Space heaters help save money as long as they’re used in a room of the right size (related to the heater’s maximum output). If you use one that’s too small for a given room, then you’re going to do nothing but waste even more electricity. A properly sized space heater for a properly sized room is a huge money saver, though.

      • I think the important thing to consider when using space heaters is whether or not the room is enclosed. If you’re using a space heater to warm up an open area like a living room or kitchen, you’ll probably run at a loss as the heat easily escapes in to the surrounding areas.

        On the other hand, a space heater being used in a smaller enclosed space like a bedroom or office (with door) would be ideal as the heat remains inside the occupied room rather than easily escaping.

  • Wow, lots of great advice. I’ve found keeping the thermostat low really helps with our energy bill – I keep it at 66 during the day and turn it down to 64 at night. It does get chilly in the house, but I just wear a sweater. And add an extra blanket at night. Also, look at turning down the temperature on your water heater, it uses more energy than you think.

    • Those sounds like some temperatures that are a little too chilly. You should consider installing a pellet stove in your home. It’s a little costly upfront, but then burning wood compared to using gas or electricity becomes far cheaper over time. A good pellet stove can heat up most of a home without a problem and without using too much fuel (in this case wood).

  • I never knew until I moved to a cold area how expensive living through the winter can be. I’ve been adopting the “wear more layers” approach since getting here to save money, so I’m going to need to try some of these out! Heating up a room at a time has been really effective given that I live alone and don’t necessarily spend time in all of my rooms equally, too.

    • Wearing more layers helps only to a certain extent… I hate ending up with cold feet and hands if I’m stationary for a while (such as on the computer, or in front of the television). Swaddling myself in blankets is cumbersome, and wearing gloves just isn’t feasible when you’re doing stuff like typing or operating electronics.

      I eventually just bit the bullet and bought myself a small space heater that follows me from room to room. It reduces the cost of heating the entire place, but it isn’t suuuper cheap by any means.

  • LED lights are even more energy efficient than CFLs, and the price continues to drop on these types of bulbs. Phillips sells $8 LEDs with a life of 50,000 hours worth of lighting, and that’s about two decades of lighting for the average fixture. You’ll save a couple cents compared to CFLs for each hour, but that makes a huge difference over the course of ten or even twenty years.

    • The problem with LED lights is that the lower quality ones can cast some pretty harsh light. In my opinion, nothing beats the warm glow of incandescent bulbs, but as we know they’re not the most eco or wallet-friendly option out there.

      LEDs are great for saving some money in the long run, but they do alter a room’s aesthetics drastically depending on what kind of fixtures you have (glazed glass or something that causes the lighting to become indirect will help immensely).

  • Yayy – insulating the water heater has finally made it on to the list! It has always been missing in previous posts and I would bring it up. I’m glad to see that it’s finally made it in.

    As mentioned previously though, you’ll want to ensure that you install it carefully especially if you have a gas burner as it can be a fire hazard if done improperly.

    • An insulated water heater should be considered a necessity rather than a recommendation. It makes such a difference when it comes to the energy savings, and too many people spend far too much money in relation to their water heater. It’s a simple yet effective way to save some cash each month.

  • Those plastic kits for windows work wonders. Our apartment has a nasty draft in the living room from the balcony door and big window. We put up plastic on the windows and it helps. My dad does the same thing. He installed new windows and doors last year though so the house is way warmer then it was.

    • There’s nothing worse than windows that let in a draft because they’re poorly insulated or they’re simply thin as paper. I’ve had to deal with that in the past, and I couldn’t stand it. I just replaced the windows themselves, although the plastic kits probably would have sufficed for solving most of the problem.

  • These are some great ways to save money during the Winter season. Since it’s almost Autumn, my mind is already thinking about higher energy bills due to heating costs. One thing I do, since I’m in a 2-story, is spend more time upstairs during the Winters, since heat rises. The upstairs stays warmer, so if I spend more time up here, I can keep the thermostat lower, but still feel warm. I do the opposite in the Summer, so I use less A/C. I have ‘draft dodgers’ at my doors that aren’t sealed quite as well, to prevent heat loss that way. I also will leave the oven door open after cooking dinner or other meals, so the warm air heats the house.

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