Tackle Rising Energy Costs This Winter With Energy Efficiency Improvements

Tackle Rising Energy Costs This Winter With Energy Efficiency Improvements

Let's Save Energy

Alliance to Save Energy's Blog

10/26/21 / Lizzie Stricklin

Tackle Rising Energy Costs This Winter With Energy Efficiency Improvements

Home Winter Energy Costs

I’ve always loved the changing of the seasons, when the leaves are falling and the air is getting crisp and chilly. If you’re like me, your home may have just switched from air conditioning to heating for the winter months ahead. But with the colder temperatures comes winter energy costs – and this year may be more expensive than usual.

That’s the conclusion drawn from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s annual Winter Fuels Outlook report, which predicts winter energy costs based on fuel prices, weather forecasts, and energy consumption data.

According to the EIA’s report, U.S. households are predicted to spend more money on energy compared to last year. This especially applies to the nearly 10% of U.S. households that rely on propane or heating oil, which are expected to see greater than 40% increases in their fuel bills. The 41% of U.S. households that heat their homes with electricity may experience a 6% raise in energy costs this winter. Households that heat their homes with natural gas – nearly half of all U.S. households – can expect to see a 30% rise in costs.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

This increase in energy costs is partly due to what is expected to be a slightly colder winter than last year, with temperatures more similar to the past decade’s average. Nevertheless, the EIA predicts there will be a rise in energy costs even with higher temperatures. The EIA reports that fuel demand has increased faster than supply from low levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EIA notes, however, that the actual increase in costs will depend on the size and energy efficiency of your home. Energy efficiency improvements can help decrease energy costs by making sure that you get the most out of the energy you’re paying for. 

With that in mind, here are three ways you can save on energy – and money – while heating your home this winter.

  1. Make sure heat isn’t escaping. Energy can go to waste in the colder months of the year due to insufficient insulation and sealing, especially around windows and doors. ENERGY STAR estimates that sealing air leaks and adding insulation can also reduce your annual energy bills by 10%. For example, replacing single-pane windows can save you up to $465 a year on your energy bills, savings that can payback the upfront costs of the replacement in about a decade.
  2. Keep an eye on the fire. Although most people look to their fireplaces to provide heat, an unwatched chimney can easily lead to heat loss and drafts in your house. Make sure to use your fireplace efficiently by closing your damper when it’s not in use. When the fireplace is in use, burn dry wood to reduce smoke, ash, and residue that will build up on the inside of the chimney.
  3. Maintain your HVAC. Effectively maintaining your heating system can reduce energy costs up to 40%. Schedule a maintenance check with a contractor, or follow ENERGY STAR’s checklist to identify and troubleshoot problems.

Although increasing energy costs may be out of your control, energy efficiency upgrades can save you money this winter – and for many winters to come. Several public and private programs exist to make these improvements more affordable. Check your local utility’s website for efficiency incentive programs, or see if you qualify for the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, which can help low-income households cover the cost of improvements, or the Sec. 25C tax credit for purchasing energy-efficient equipment or services.

For more tips on saving energy year-round, check out the advice we shared on Energy Efficiency Day 2021.

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