What’s Sabotaging Your Utility Bills This Winter?

Posted by Wattson on Jan 21, 2016

high energy bills in the winter

If winters weren’t already tough in New England (we’re looking at you, Nor’Easters), facing high energy bills due to the cold just adds insult to injury. Learn how you can lower your energy bill by identifying and eliminating these big energy wasters.

Heating your home

Did you know that 59% of a Massachusetts home’s energy use is spent on heat alone? In fact, the average household spends about $2,500 annually on energy. That means $1,475 of your hard-earned cash is being spent on keeping your home temperate. That’s a lot of money for something you hardly ever think about! Save money on heat by fixing these give energy vampires.

1. Poor Insulation

You may be losing energy where you least expect it. First and foremost, check to see if your walls are insulated. Regardless of whether your home is old or new, it may not be insulated properly. Once you’ve determined that your walls are insulated, you need to figure out whether or not they have right type of insulation.

Next, determine whether there are gaps in insulation that allow air leakage to occur. If there is a particularly drafty area of your house, such as your attic, there may not be enough insulation. How can you tell if your home needs to add an extra layer or two? Technology such as thermal imaging can identify where your home is losing the most heat. Thermal imaging works best in the winter, so you may want to consider scheduling a home energy assessment during a colder month to see where your home is losing heat.

2. Drafty windows

Up to 40% of your home’s heat leaks through poorly sealed windows. That’s right. You’re literally throwing your money out of the window. If your budget cannot handle installing more energy efficient windows, invest in good window treatments such as honeycomb blinds or heavy drapes to help the warm air stay in. Doing so will help to insulate your home better and will allow you to control the amount of light in the room. Are your new curtains not protecting you from your drafty windows? Air leaks often occur because of gaps in the window frame or panes. The best remedy is to caulk your windows. Looking for additional heat on the cheap? Leaving your blinds open during the day (even in winter) can help warm your home.

3. Outdated HVAC syststem

Is your HVAC system more than 15 years old? Is it in constant need of repair? It may not be energy efficient and may need replacing. Before you invest in a new system, you should address other sources of energy loss such as insufficient or ineffective insulation or improper air sealing for your doors. An HVAC system is typically the system that uses the most energy in your home, so installing a new system is an investment. Don’t let cost deter you from upgrading your system to a more energy efficient model. Many Massachusetts residents qualify for the HEAT Loan, a zero interest loan for up to $25,000 that can be used for installing insulation and upgrading your heating system.

4. Overheating home

Your high energy bills may have nothing to do with your heating system; they may be the result of your behavior. Hear us out. We understand wanting to be cozy and warm, but you may be sabotaging your utility bill by cranking up the heat when you don’t need to. Instead of turning up the thermostat, try throwing on an extra layer. If you plan on being away from home while running errands or are going to bed for the night, lower the heat. Manually switching the heat can be a chore, so consider installing a programmable thermostat. Units are pretty inexpensive, ranging in price from about $40 to $100. These easy to use devices can save you 10% to 15% on heating costs.

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