A finger adjusts the temperature on thermostat

How to lower your energy bill in winter

Oct 18, 2022
Empower Insights

5 ways to cushion the blow from rising heating costs

Turning up the heat is expected to cost even more this winter.

Temperatures are dropping, but fuel costs are rising. For the 2022-23 winter heating season, the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association projects that heating costs will average $1,202 per household. That’s up 17% from last year and 35% from two years ago.

Natural gas, which heats nearly half of all U.S. homes, is forecast to spike more than 34%. Other heating fuels are expected to rise sharply as well: Propane up 15%, heating oil up 13%, electricity up 7%.1

The high energy prices are blamed on many factors. Natural gas and oil supplies are tight, and demand is high. The war in Ukraine doesn’t help, creating more volatility and uncertainty about energy exports from Russia.

Beyond the price of fuel, heating bills are dependent on the size and energy efficiency of homes and heating equipment, along with thermostat settings and weather conditions. While you can’t control the weather, you can take some simple steps to help cushion the blow of high energy costs.

Here are five easy ways to reduce heating bills and put more money in your pocket.

1. Check your thermostats

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates heating bills can be cut by up to 10% percent simply by lowering your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day, typically when you are asleep or away from home.2 If you install a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heat to a pre-set schedule, and then manually override it if you choose.

2. Let the sunshine in

When the weather permits, open your blinds or drapes and let the sunshine in. Besides providing light, the sun also provides heat — the old-fashioned way. As night falls, close the blinds to help keep the cold out.

A hand adjusts window blinds with sunlight visible through window.

3. Seal leaks

Air leaks are among the greatest sources of energy loss. One of the quickest money-saving tasks you can do is to caulk, seal and weather-strip seams, cracks and openings to the outside. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, you can save up to 20% on your heating costs by sealing air leaks around windows, doors, outlets, light fixtures, fireplace chimneys and other places where outside air comes in.3

4. Bundle up

Staying warm will keep you from cranking up the heat. Winter is the perfect time to break out your thick sweaters, flannel pajamas and cozy socks. Consider putting throw blankets on the couch, too, so you can stay warm while you’re relaxing.

A woman carries a stack of blankets

5. Run ceiling fans

If you have ceiling fans, use them. Since warm air rises, your fan forces warm air back down from the ceiling — and the cost of the electricity to run it is negligible.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects heating fuel prices to remain high through the winter, but drop or stabilize in 2023.4 In the meantime, consider focusing on what you can control: Implement energy- and cost-saving measures, compare prices when you shop and stick to your budget. After all, spring will be here before you know it.

 

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1 National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, “Home Heating Costs Reach Highest Level in More than 10 Years, Families Will Pay 17.2% More for Home Heating This Winter,” September 2022

2 U.S. Department of Energy, “Programmable Thermostats”

3 Environmental Protection Agency, “A Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling”

4 U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Short-Term Energy Outlook,” October 2022

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