Winter energy-saving tips by region
No matter what part of the country we live in, we all want to save money on our electric bills. Unfortunately, our energy uses are not created equal during the winter. Helpful heater tips to try in Los Angeles won't work as effectively in New York City. Find your region from the list below and discover the best ways to save energy this winter.
White Christmases abound in the Midwestern United States, but that doesn't mean you have to spend your whole paycheck on keeping the house warm. The most important thing you can do is make sure to replace or clean your filters regularly. When you need heat 24 hours a day, a clogged filter will drain the energy from the furnace without keeping you as warm as you would like. Be consistent about maintenance as well and you'll be able to keep your furnace running optimally until spring. Also, cover drafty windows with heavy-duty plastic sheets sealed tightly inside the window frame to save even more energy.
Residents of the Southwestern United States get a vacation from huge energy bills in the winter thanks to a relatively mild climate. But just because your air conditioning is no longer working overtime doesn't mean there still aren't ways you can save. If you are using your heater during chilly nights, abide by the golden rule: keep it a few degrees cooler than you're comfortable with. Just a few degrees difference will have you seeing a huge decrease in your monthly spending. Also, take advantage of power strips — especially when you start adding holiday lights to your home decor. Power strips can plug in all your decorations and remind you to unplug them all when it's time to turn in for the night.
The golden rule (see Southwest) applies to residents of the Northeast as well, if you can stand it. When the weather dips below freezing and you have no choice but to crank up the furnace, the best way to make sure you're saving money is by investing time in a complete tune-up of your heating system. A proper cleaning and inspection of all your HVAC equipment will ensure your unit is running most efficiently — and can also spot a potential problem before it becomes a major repair. Other heating tips for those in this region include always closing the fireplace damper to avoid losing heat as well as making sure all your windows and doors are secured with weather stripping and caulking.
Like their friends on the West Coast, some Southern states enjoy enviable winter weather (Florida beaches come to mind). But if you find yourself living dangerously close to a chilly Midwest, you'll have to take some extra precautions to save the most energy this winter. The best heating tips for Southern residents include turning down the temperature of your water heater and setting up a programmable thermostat. A long, hot shower after a rainy or snowy day can easily turn into a more expensive energy bill, so turn your water heater to 120 degrees and restrict shower times to 5-10 minutes. A programmable thermostat will help everyone in your family abide by the golden rule — set it to a few degrees cooler an hour after bedtime and you'll never notice the dip in temperature.
West Coast winters can be the envy of the season, and like the Southwest, your energy bills may take a welcomed dive during the colder months. If you're looking for ways to save even more money, consider a home-energy audit. You can upgrade to a programmable thermostat, or find out if your furnace has reached the end of its optimal heat-giving life. Also, changing to energy-saving LED lighting throughout your house will help you save energy when the sun goes down earlier in the day. As always, whether you're in Southern California or Seattle, try setting your home a few degrees cooler than you're comfortable with, especially in the evening.