If your heating bills have gone up this year, you’re not alone. Winter storms, supply chain issues, and high demand are causing heating bills to go up across North America, along with other essentials like gas, food, and rent. According to CNN, “the significant increase in the costs of all types of heating fuel means that US households will pay between $700 and $1,700 more for heat this winter, depending upon where they live and what type of fuel they use.”
Here are a few tips to help decrease your energy bills while staying warm.
1) Invest in an ecobee smart thermostat.
ecobee smart thermostats are ENERGY STAR-certified and can help you save up to 26% on your annual heating and cooling costs (while maintaining your desired comfort settings), which may total up to $200 per year.1 With ecobee smart thermostats starting at only $179.99 USD or $219.99 CAD (and even less for a refurbished device), it will pay for itself in about a year.
With the average ecobee smart thermostat lasting at least 10 years, you’ll enjoy savings for a while. You may also be eligible for a rebate through your utility to save even more on your purchase.
2) Program your smart thermostat to maximize savings.
By programming your Schedule and Comfort Settings, you can ensure your heat is only running when you’re home. When choosing each comfort setting, try to set the temperature a bit lower than you are used to. Even one degree lower can help you save two per cent on your heating bill, according to Natural Resources Canada.
With a SmartSensor placed in the rooms you’re actually using, you can optimize the temperature based on the rooms you’re in. Make sure you also enable eco+, ecobee’s advanced smart thermostat software, to fully automate comfort and energy savings.
Some utilities may have a time-of-use rate in which they charge higher prices for energy used during peak demand hours. If your rate varies based on time of day, the eco+ Time of Use feature can automate your savings by intelligently precooling or preheating your home when energy is less expensive.
Although nighttime use is usually less expensive for those on time-of-use plans, we still recommend lowering your thermostat to around 16-19°C or 60-66°F for optimal sleep quality. While it may seem cold at first, with the right blankets, you won’t wake up as thirsty or sweaty from the blasting heat – and it will help you save energy.
3) Inspect your home to find where heat is escaping.
To conserve heat, inspect your home yourself or hire a professional to see what improvements could be made to lock in heat. For example, if you find a room with large windows is colder than others, there are a few ways you can insulate them, from caulking to weather insulation film or new window treatments. Or, you may find you need to insulate and air seal your home to prevent air leaks.
ecobee’s Home IQ tool can also help you identify these common issues. Use the Home Efficiency tab to see how energy efficient your home is compared with others in your state or province. For further insights, System Monitor gives you a granular look at your home’s heating and cooling patterns. One of our customers used ecobee HomeIQ to determine his home has poorer insulation compared to others in his province.
For more low-cost ways to reduce heating bills, CNET recommends “opening your window shades, curtains or blinds to let the sun in during the day, as that will put less stress on your furnace,” and using “portable, efficient space heaters” which “can mean turning down the overall temperature but keeping the room you're in warm.” Remember to unplug electronics, especially space heaters, and turn off lights when not in use.
Whether the winter season is nearing its end or far from over where you live, these tips can help you conserve energy for seasons to come, and benefit your wallet and the environment.
1 Compared to a hold of 72°F/22°C. Annual savings vary based on energy use.
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