How Do I Lower My Electric Bill in the Winter?

November 14th, 2010 | Posted by tjones in Environment | Fuel Efficiency | Green Homes | Green Products

In New York City, it’s late autumn and winter is just around the corner.  The leaves have fallen from the trees, cold rains and wintry mixes have arrived, and previously-dormant radiators across the city are clanging away.  This is the time of year to begin weatherizing and winterizing your home – of making it energy-efficient, to lower your electric bill and make your home kinder on the environment and your bank account.

Another important reason to weatherize your home this winter: some of the rebates and incentives that the federal government is providing for energy-efficient upgrades to your home will expire on December 31, 2010.  With these rebates, making your home energy-efficient not only lowers your bills in the long run, but can make the initial upgrades extremely affordable, or in some cases, entirely free.

Lowering your winter electric bill can involve minor upgrades to large, comprehensive projects, according to your budget or time constraints.  They can range from sealing cracks and installing efficient insulation, to buying a new thermostat and installing sunlight’s; using indoor fans (which blow warm air, accumulated at the ceiling, back towards the floor), unblocking air vents, closing (or blocking up) a fireplace, using power strips, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, buying a new furnace or water heater are other ways for everyone to lower their bills and make their homes more energy efficient.


1. Insulation

We’ve written extensively in the past about insulating homes and the added benefits of fitting your home so that it retains more heat, instead of losing it.  This is better for reducing heating costs, and thus for reducing our environmental footprint – approximately 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide are emitted each year from residences, most of which is the consequence of home heating.  Conventional fiberglass insulation is a suspected carcinogen, so using a green product like Bonded Logic Ultratouch Recycled Cotton Insulation is a major step towards making a greener home.  For an even more efficient home, National Fiber Cel-Pak Cellulose Insulation is a blow-in material that settles into the tiniest corners and cracks of walls, ceilings, and attics.

2. Skylighting

Letting daylight into a room is an effective way to warm a room – especially rooms that normally don’t receive sunlight, and require significantly more energy to bring to a comfortable temperature.  The Solatube Brighten Up! Tubular Daylighting Kit captures light from every angle – even low-angle winter sunlight – and reflects it down a tube into interior rooms, bathrooms, hallways, corridors, utility rooms, and any other spot that might not receive as much sunlight as you’d like.  Indeed, the Solatube can brighten spaces up to 300 square feet large.

3. Caulks and Sealants

Closing up cracks and drafts in homes is an effective – and inexpensive – way to conserve energy and reduce heating and cooling costs.   Using VOC-free caulks is an important way to protect the health of everyone in your home.  VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals that are “off-gassed” from conventional caulks and can cause serious neurological problems, kidney failure, and is a suspected carcinogen.  Safecoat is a toxin-free caulk that can be used to plug drafts and lower your winter energy bills.

4. Water Heaters

Water heaters are one of the largest consumers of energy in the average home, and swapping out an older-model water heater for a new, energy-efficient model can substantially reduce energy costs.  The GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater is an especially energy-efficient model, qualified by ENERGY STAR.  It combines heat pump technology with traditional electric elements to save the homeowner up to 62% on annual water heating expenses  — even up to $320.  In addition to the long term cost-saving effects of this heater, it also qualifies for a federal energy tax credit, and additional state rebates.

5. Other, every day items that you can change around the house can help reduce your electricity bill.  Using an energy monitor or power strip – and ensuring you turn it off when you’re not using appliances – can stop “phantom charges” that slowly drive up your electricity costs.  Using compact fluorescent bulbs – and even more efficient LED bulbs – can bring electricity costs even further.

For these energy-efficient green products and many, many more, make sure to visit

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