Electricity Rates

How to lower your electric bill in the winter

March 6, 2024
Fred Sayer
December 7, 2023

Home heating systems typically account for about 29% of your monthly utility bill, especially during colder months when heating a home is more common. You’ve probably heard that bundling up and lowering your thermostat can help you save money during colder months, but there are an abundance of other cost-effective ways to lower your electric bill in winter.

From home technology like programmable thermostats and humidifiers to best practices like closing fireplace dampers and maintaining heating systems, these 21 money-saving tips can keep you warm while lowering your electricity payments during the frigid winter months.

1. Close Your Fireplace Damper 

While your fireplace may keep you warm while you have a fire going, your chimney can quickly become an easy escape for your home’s energy. When not in use, make sure to close your fireplace damper to limit your energy and heat loss. This way, your furnace won’t be constantly replacing heat you may be losing through an open chimney.

2. Keep Your Furnace Clean 

To run efficiently and lower your energy consumption, you need to keep your furnace clean. Change your air filters regularly and keep your furnace serviced by HVAC professionals. While upfront service costs can range from $150 to $300 on average, a clean furnace can greatly reduce monthly electricity bills and extend the life of your heating system.

3. Only Heat Your Most-Used Rooms 

If there are rarely used rooms in your home, consider shutting their doors and vents to keep heat in your main living spaces. If possible, install mini splits instead of a heat pump to create zones for heating and cooling throughout your home. If you need to use these unheated rooms, simply open the vents and doors before occupying the space.

4. Find Ways To Save on Holiday Lighting 

Many of the winter holidays include electronic decorations, especially holiday-themed lighting. Keeping indoor or outdoor lights on all night might seem like a good idea, but it’s incredibly inefficient. Consider setting up a lighting timer or smart plugs to automatically turn off lights at a certain time and invest in LED lighting options to help lower your electric bill in winter.

5. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans 

Ceiling fans aren’t just a summer cooling tool—they’re also perfect for circulating warm air throughout your home. Change the motor in your ceiling fan to rotate clockwise, as this will force any warm air near the ceiling down below the fan’s blades. If you choose to use this tip, remember to turn off fans in any unused rooms to lower your energy consumption.

6. Purchase a Humidifier 

Your first thoughts about saving money during the winter months probably aren’t about purchasing a humidifier. However, dry air does not hold heat as well as moist air, so adding moisture to the air in your home can actually help lower your electric bill in the winter. Plus, humidifiers are typically one-time purchases that can be used for seasons to come.

7. Lower Your Thermostat 

Opposite to how you would save energy in the summer, you should lower your thermostat in the winter. This can help control how frequently your furnace runs, which decreases energy consumption. If you choose to lower your thermostat during the night or while the home is empty, make sure to keep your spaces warm enough to protect your pipes from freezing. 

8. Get Your Heating System Checked 

Energy-efficient heating systems can help keep your energy costs low. Schedule annual maintenance and checkups to ensure your heating system is working optimally. Getting your system checked can help you find issues early, which can reduce your repair and replacement costs and increase the longevity of your system.

9. Seal Air Leaks With Weatherstripping 

Drafty doors and windows don’t just let in cold air; they also suck out warm air and energy. One of the best ways to lower your electric bill in the winter is to use weatherstripping to seal air leaks on all doors and windows. If weatherstripping isn’t enough, consider using door sweeps and draft stoppers to prevent the cold air from slipping under your doors and windows. 

10. Maintain Clean Air Filters 

While clean, working air filters trap pollen, dust, dirt, and other debris from circulating through your home, dirty filters can reduce airflow. With reduced airflow, heating systems are forced to work harder and consume more energy. It’s best practice to check your filters every month and replace them at least every three months to maintain your system’s efficiency.

11. Unblock Air Vents 

Your furnace can only work efficiently with unblocked air vents. If your curtains, drapes, or furniture are blocking air vents, your system’s ductwork may experience dangerous and inefficient pressure. This concentrated air pressure can cause your system to leak, crack, or break completely, affecting air circulation in your home. To solve this problem and reduce your system’s air pressure, move furniture away from vents or use vent extenders to redirect airflow.

12. Let the Sun In 

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to raise the temperature in your home without increasing your energy consumption, look no further than the sun. About 76% of the sunlight that hits double-paned windows is absorbed into your home as heat and can be used to naturally heat the rooms in your home. If you plan to let the sun in during the day, make sure to close your blinds and drapes at night to keep the day's heat contained within your main living spaces.

13. Decorate With Insulated Rugs and Drapes 

Floor rugs and window drapes are more than just accessories in a room—often, they can help keep rooms insulated during the winter months. Consider investing in thick rugs, rug pads, and long drapes or curtains to keep your spaces warm during cold spells and at night. This additional insulation can help lower your thermostat without risking your physical comfort.

14. Check Your Insulation 

Well-insulated homes are better at regulating temperature, which can eventually lower your electric bill in winter. To keep heat contained in your main living spaces, add insulation to attic spaces, walls, around electrical outlets, and near utilities. You may also need to add insulation around your plumbing systems to keep heat in and cold out.

15. Lower Your Water Heater Temperature

While hot water is a necessity, it’s not vital to keep your temperatures set at sweat-inducing temps. Consider keeping your water heater temperatures around 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which will give you plenty of hot water without causing excessive energy strain. You can also invest in a hot water heater blanket that can provide insulation for your heater itself.

16. Only Wash Full Loads of Laundry  

To save energy in the winter, it’s best to only wash full loads of laundry. Partial loads of laundry take as much energy—and water—as full loads, so you can conserve energy, lower water usage, and reduce electricity costs by only using your washing machine for full loads. Plus, you can use a drying rack in place of a dryer to increase your energy savings.

17. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat 

With a programmable thermostat, you can lower your yearly electric bill by nearly 10% by simply decreasing your home’s temperature between 7 and 10 degrees for eight hours a day. These smart thermostats can automatically change thermostats during specified hours, track heating and cooling patterns, and adjust indoor temperatures remotely. 

18. Invest in LED Light Bulbs 

With less natural light during the winter season comes the need for artificial lighting, especially in well-used areas of the home. We recommend investing in LED light bulbs and other ENERGY STAR-certified lighting fixtures because they use 75% less electricity than normal lighting options and last up to 25 times longer.

19. Unplug Unused Electronics 

Even if you’re diligent about turning appliances and devices off, they still draw and use “phantom power,” which can increase energy consumption. To lower your winter electric bill, unplug all electronics—including TVs, computers, chargers, coffee makers, microwaves, and gaming consoles—while they are not in use and consider using a power strip or surge protector to quickly and easily unplug devices at once. 

20. Limit the Use of Nonessential Appliances 

It’s no secret that, after a central air system, your appliances use the most energy in your home. You may be able to lower your electric bill in the winter by limiting your use of nonessential appliances—like blenders, popcorn machines, egg cookers, and other devices—and keeping them unplugged when not in use.

21. Research Different Energy Providers  

If all else fails and you still need to lower your electric bill, consider researching different energy providers, as it may be possible to lower your energy rates by switching to a different provider in your area. With Arbor, you can find the lowest rates and smoothly transition from one energy provider to another without interrupting your service or experiencing bill spikes.  

Winter Electricity Bill FAQ 

Below, we answer a few frequently asked questions about winter electricity and how to lower your electric bill in winter.

Why Is My Electric Bill So High in the Winter? 

Your electricity bill is high in the winter because most people spend more time at home, which causes energy consumption rates to increase. Plus, colder temperatures require heating systems to run more frequently to protect pipes and warm main living spaces, which can also increase your electricity bill.

What Uses the Most Electricity in the Winter? 

Your climate control system uses the most electricity in the winter. In order to keep your home at a consistent temperature, furnaces run frequently during colder months, causing increases in your energy consumption.

What Temperature Should I Keep My House To Save Money? 

You should keep your thermostat set between 70 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit year-round to save money. Consider manually changing your thermostat settings during different seasons or installing a programmable thermostat to automatically track temperature patterns and behaviors.

Save On Your Winter Electric Bill With Arbor 

Learning how to lower your electric bill in winter is not only beneficial to you but also to the environment. Consider checking your current rates with Arbor to find lower-cost electricity options for your home. Simply enter your ZIP code and let the professionals do the rest—rain, snow, ice, or shine, we can help you save money on your electricity bill year-round.

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