Five Free Ways to Save Money on Your Energy Bills This Winter

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WYOMING – During the colder winter months, we use more energy to keep our homes warm and bright as temperatures drop and the days stay shorter.

Did you know energy usage is the largest portion of your energy bill and temperature is one of the biggest factors to affect increased usage? There are several behavior changes Wyoming homeowners can make to improve their home’s energy efficiency this winter, creating energy savings and providing peace of mind.

Using less energy to save on monthly energy bills doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Here are five energy conservation tips from Black Hills Energy that are completely free — and in fact will help save on monthly energy bills this winter:

  • Lower your thermostat: Set the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake — or at least for eight hours a day — and even lower while you sleep, if you can manage. According to the Department of Energy, this can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling costs. If your home will be empty during the day, simply turn the thermostat down when you leave and turn it up when you return. If you do work from home, throw on a sweater or sweatshirt to stay warm while the thermostat is turned down a bit.
  • Declutter around the furnace: Sometimes, when our furnace hasn’t run in a few months, we inadvertently store things around it. As furnace usage heats up in the winter — quite literally! — it’s important the areas around the furnace are cleared, especially of flammable items like cardboard boxes, wood or cleaning solvents. Clutter around the furnace restricts air flow, which makes the furnace work harder, can result in damage to the furnace and can pose a safety risk to the home. Bonus tip? Make sure nothing is blocking air vents to create uninterrupted airflow from the furnace through to rooms, making your heating system as efficient as possible.
  • Make your curtains work smarter: Creating privacy isn’t the only functional use for curtains! Use them to leverage the natural heat of the sun to warm your house during the day by opening curtains and blinds on all south-facing windows. This allows you to turn down the thermostat — and turn off the lights, for extra energy savings! Then close your drapes or blinds at night to help insulate your home from any energy leaking from windows.
  • Air dry dishes: The heated drying cycle, which usually takes about 30 minutes, is the inefficient part of the dishwashing machine, as the air blasting through the dishwasher to remove moisture requires energy to heat it up. Air drying dishes gets the same results, so try cracking the dishwasher open after the rinse cycle to let the heat already pumping through your house dry the dishes. Many new dishwashers have an air-dry option, which doesn’t use heated air, reducing energy use by at least 15 percent according to some estimates.
  • Turn down your water heater: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heaters only need to be set at 120°F, as opposed to the 140°F many manufacturers set them at. When set at the higher temperature, residents can waste anywhere from $36 to $61 per year in standby heat loss, or heat lost from the water heater into surrounding areas. Combined with lower water temperatures used when washing clothes, showering and dishwashing, customers could save over $400 by turning down the water heater. An additional benefit of turning down the water heater? It slows mineral buildup and corrosion in the heater and pipes.