8 Tips to Save Energy This Winter

8 Winter Energy-Saving Tips for a Cozy, Efficient Home

November 27, 2023

Energy Efficiency and Climate Change, Residential Real Estate


These ideas, categorized from low to high effort, can help you save on utility bills as we enter the colder months.

An El Niño weather pattern is expected this winter, which could bring severe weather to many parts of the country. But cranking up the heat can be a fast-track to high energy bills. After all, heating and cooling account for nearly half of annual energy bill for the average American household, according to Energy Star.

So, before you set that thermostat too high, check out these winter energy-saving tips to help keep your home toasty without breaking the bank. Many of these tips can help you save money and use less energy all year long.

  1. Lower the Temperature on Your Thermostat

Why? The Department of Energy says you can save energy costs in the winter by setting your thermostat between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit while you are home—and even less when you’re away. Heat loss happens more slowly when the temperature inside your house is low, the department says.

Effort required: Low

Steps to take:

  1. Take Advantage of Natural Heat

Why? Passive heating uses the sun’s natural heat to warm up your home. Methods range from opening the blinds to choosing building materials that can trap heat during the day and release it in the evening. Even if your home wasn’t intentionally built with passive solar design in mind, you can still use a few low-effort tricks to harness the sun’s heat.

Effort required: Low

Steps to take:

  1. Monitor Energy Usage for Electronics

Why? The Energy Information Administration found that televisions, computers and other electronics—as well as miscellaneous energy uses, including dishwashers and cooking equipment—make up 45.2% of residential energy consumption. Spending more time indoors during the winter can mean more energy usage for making hot chocolate and coffee, watching classic holiday movies and getting cozy under an electric blanket. Don’t stop the holiday cheer, but consider a few ways to keep energy usage for electronics down.

Effort required: Low

Steps to take:

  1. Upgrade Lighting and Lightbulbs

Why? Residential electricity prices in the U.S. grew 10.7% in 2022 and are projected to rise another 4% in 2023, according to the EIA. With these rising prices, additional lights—especially costly holiday strings of incandescent bulbs—will cause an increase in your electricity bill. Choosing LED holiday lights can save you up to 75%, since they use a quarter of the energy incandescent lighting does. Even if you aren’t putting up holiday lights, swapping out your home’s regular lights for energy-efficient bulbs can help you consume less electricity. LED lights also can last up to 25 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs.

Effort required: Low

Steps to take:

  1. Prioritize Energy-Efficient Choices for Large Appliances

Why? Large appliances, such as washing machines and refrigerators, can consume a lot of energy. The EIA found that refrigerators and freezers were the fifth-largest source of residential energy consumption in 2022. Reducing your usage when possible, using power-saving settings and making energy-efficient upgrades, can keep electricity usage down with these appliances. For example, a household can save about $450.00 annually on energy bills when using products with high Energy Star ratings.

Effort required: Low to medium

Steps to take:

  1. Seal Up Air Leaks

Why? Doors, windows and other openings in your home are all potential sources of heat loss—even when closed. According to the DOE, nearly one third of a home’s heat is lost through windows.  Sealing air leaks can help your home retain heat, thus keeping everyone comfortable and preventing your heater from working overtime.

Effort required: Medium

Steps to take:

  1. Inspect Home Heating Systems

Why? The EIA found that space and water heating were among the four largest categories for residential energy consumption in 2022. Layering up and improving insulation can help keep you warm. But you’ll likely still need to use your HVAC system, chimney, water heater and small space heaters to stay warm—especially in areas that need to prepare for blizzards and extreme cold temperatures. Regular maintenance on your home’s heating systems can help ensure they operate properly and efficiently.

Effort required: Medium to high

Steps to take:

  1. Do a Home Energy Assessment

Why? A home energy assessment involves inspecting each room of your house to identify your home’s energy usage and ways to help your home run more efficiently. This is a great step to take if you want to identify the solutions that will impact your home the most. You can do a simple DIY home energy assessment to find issues that are easy to spot, or you can schedule a professional home energy assessment with an auditor who can thoroughly evaluate your home. Having an audit completed by a certified auditor is required for those who want to take advantage of tax credits.  An auditor also can help you identify solutions for more complex issues, like if you need to replace the insulation throughout your home.

Listen to the “Drive With NAR” podcast for tips on the real estate pro’s role in a home energy audit.

Effort required: High

Steps to take:

This article was contributed by Courtney Klosterman, a home insights expert at Hippo, a home insurance resource.

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