It happens every year — once temperatures go down, our utility bills skyrocket. This can put a damper on your winter spending, especially if you end up having less to spend than you wanted on holiday gifts this season.
You don’t have to get stuck in the same expensive cycle every year. As heating specialists in Kansas City, Santa Fe Air has seen first hand the problems that cause those excruciatingly high bills. That helps us give the best advice on how to lower your utility bill this winter.
Where do high utility bills in the winter come from?
Before you can lower your bill, you should understand why your bill is so high in the first place. The source will vary from home to home, but there are a few common factors that come into play.
Read for winter HVAC tips to maximize your heating system
Reason #1: It’s very cold outside
One of the main causes for the bill change is that you’re trying to warm up a cold house. In the fall, you may have rarely turned on your heat, which keeps your utility bill low. Unfortunately, we crank up the heat once winter hits, and some of us crank it up a little too much. We’ll talk more about how to beat the cold without breaking the bank later.
Reason #2: Everyone is inside more
It’s cold outside, which makes people more likely to enjoy the comforts of their home. When you have more people inside the house, more water runs, more food cooks, and more electronics buzz.
All of that activity adds up, and you may see the effects on your monthly bill. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with staying inside, but it is a factor to keep in mind when trying to understand price increases.
Reason #3: You’re being sucked dry by power vampires
Many people don’t realize that just because you’ve turned a device off, doesn’t mean it’s not using energy. New technology will keep updating or performing other maintenance functions even on “standby mode.”
So you may be thinking you’re saving money by turning off your T.V., but unless you completely unplug it, you’re not really doing much for your bill. In fact, idle electronics add up to about $19 billion per year, or $165 per American household.
Reason #4: Holiday lights and decorations keep you in the spirit
The holidays are a fun time, and decorating your house gets everyone excited. But all those lights and electronic decorations will take a toll on your bill, especially if you keep them on all night. A lot of people don’t take into consideration their holiday decor when trying to figure out why their bills are so high.
Reason #5: Your heating system isn’t working properly
If you notice that you’re pumping up the heat with little to no return, that could be a sign that your central heating system needs to be repaired. You could be wasting a lot of money spiking up your heat, but your home never gets warm.
For those in the Kansas City area, Santa Fe Air offers heating checkups to ensure that your central heating system is working properly.
Best ways to lower your utility bill in Kansas City
Now that you know some of the factors that cause high utilities, you can start taking steps to lower your bill. Keep in mind that because of the weather change, you should expect your utility bill to naturally be a little higher than it was during the fall. But that doesn’t mean your bill has to be astronomical or unmanageable.
Upgrade your thermostat
Thanks to the advancement of smart technology, even our thermostats can help us manage our utilities. Wi-fi thermostats monitor your heating habits to better determine your heating needs. Plus, they offer more energy management benefits such as controlling your home’s temperature remotely.
Check your insulation
Bad insulation means that heat isn’t flowing through your home because it’s leaking outside. So no matter how high you turn your thermostat, you’ll always have an unwanted chill creeping through the air. Make sure that the insulation in your home is sufficient, including your attic and basement.
Lower your thermostat
We know how incredibly hard this can be, especially when wind chills make us feel like we’re living in the arctic circle. But the truth is, you can save up to 10% on your utilities bill just by turning down your heat by 7 to 10 degrees. When you’re asleep or away from home, we recommend keeping the thermostat below 68 degrees.
Get a check-up
The best care is preventative care. Call a professional HVAC company in Kansas City to do a heating system check-up. That way you’ll know if your furnace or heat pump is working properly. You’ll be able to solve the problem before your pockets take a major hit!
Don’t block air vents
A blocked air vent can’t push warm air through your house. Go from room to room to ensure that there aren’t any obstructions. This could be a bookcase, piles of clothes, and/or furniture. The key is to keep all pathways open to optimize your heating system.
Close unused air vents
This may sound counterproductive, but if you have rooms that no one ever uses, there’s no point in trying to keep them warm. The more space your heating system has to warm, the harder it’ll work—and the higher your bill will be.
Keep in mind that once you close those vents, you should shut the doors too. You don’t want warm air going into those rooms; that’ll only defeat the purpose.
Change your air filter
A dirty air filter won’t be able to work the way it should. Your filter should help your HVAC system maintain the warmth of your home by managing proper air flow. Make sure that you’re regularly checking your filters as well as using the right filter for your system.
Seal your doors and windows
You could be losing a lot of warm air just by having unsealed doors and windows. Don’t let your heat slip through the cracks and cost you money. You can check to see if you have a problem by putting a dollar bill between a door or window. If you can pull it back out easily, go ahead and replace the seal.
Adjust your water heater
Check your water heater’s manual guide to ensure that you have it set to the ideal temperature. For most, this will be about 120 degrees. If your water heater is set too high, it’ll be working overtime and using up more energy than necessary.
Get a nice rug
For people who have a lot of hard flooring, it may be more difficult to keep the house warm than if you had carpet. To manage this, you can buy rugs for different areas of your home. That way your feet stay warm, and you’ll be able to lower your thermostat guilt-free!
Unplug unused electronics
Again, don’t become a victim of power vampires. Make sure that any electronics that aren’t being used are unplugged from the wall. That includes space heaters, game consoles, and televisions. Also, unplug chargers so that they aren’t idly using power.
Switch up your laundry habits
Being more cautious with your laundry habits could definitely save you money. Make sure you wash full loads, preferably with cold water if you can. Hang as many clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer, or at least put the dryer on a lower setting.
Insulate your water heater and pipes
If your water heater tank is located in an uninsulated area, it’s important to cover it with an insulating jacket to keep the warmth in. You can take this one stop further by also covering up visible pipes around your house.
Buy blankets for you and your family
Instead of pumping up your heater, buy thick, comfy blankets instead. Try finding some that match the decor of your home for a new DIY project. Your house will look great, and you and your family can stay warm. Plus, you can take a blanket to any room without having to worry about using up energy.
Lower your winter utility bill with an efficient central heating system in Kansas City
If all else fails, it may be time to upgrade your central heating system. An poor-functioning system will not only keep your house cold, but it will always keep your utility bills super high. It might sound like a big cost at first, but when you add together the monthly costs you’ll be saving, getting a new heating system installed will end up saving you in the long run.
Santa Fe Air has been installing high-quality heating systems in the Kansas City area since 1987. We believe that a properly-installed furnace and heat pump are crucial for maintaining the affordability of your energy bill. No matter what, we have the best customer service, which makes our customers want to come back.