Temperature forecasts around the country are trending downward as we head into the season of winter celebrations. While you can’t heat your home with the heartwarming feeling that comes from spreading holiday cheer, you can save money on energy costs this winter with a few simple changes.
Cold Wash Clothes
Check the garment care labels on your winter sweaters. Many of them likely do best when washed in cold water, and the same is true for many types of clothing. Not only will washing with cold water extend the lifespan of your clothes and prevent color fading, it will also shave money off your energy bill.
It’s estimated that around 90% of a washing machine’s energy usage goes toward heating up water. So rather than the hot water setting, opt for the warm or cold water settings to cut down on energy usage. Some laundry detergents are specifically made for use with cold water.
It’s important to note that you’ll still want to use the hot water cycle when trying to sanitize clothes, sheets, and towels—which may be a good idea after someone in the house has been sick.
Choose Efficient Lighting
Whether you wow the neighborhood each year with your front yard light display, or just use indoor lights more often due to low sunlight hours, you can save money by using efficient lighting systems.
LEDs use at least 75% less energy than standard incandescent lights, plus they’ll last years longer. Try to use them throughout your house, and especially in high usage areas like overhead lights.
For outdoor areas like in front of your house or garage, motion sensor light fixtures can give you the safety and convenience of outdoor lighting without the unnecessary energy always-on lights consume. And with lighting displays, use an automatic timer that turns them off once everyone is asleep.
Set Water Heater to 120°F
By default, many water heaters are set to 140°F to prevent the development of bacteria and the buildup of minerals in your water system. But this high temperature can also pose the risk of scalding while you wash your hands or take a shower, and it also may be adding unnecessary costs to your heating bill.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your water heater to 120°F. This is still in the safe zone for preventing most bacteria development, and can save you up to $400 annually.
Aim for Balanced Humidity
Keeping the relative humidity in your home between 40–60% during the winter can keep you healthier and lower your heating bill.
Properly humidified air holds heat better than dry air, meaning you can keep your thermostat a few degrees lower and still feel comfortable in the winter. An AprilAire whole-house humidifier makes it easy to get these benefits in every room of your home.
Plus, balanced humidity can help you stay healthy during the cold and flu season. The combination of low winter humidity and indoor heating systems can create an excessively dry environment, where viruses thrive. When properly hydrated, your sinuses and mucus membranes are better equipped to fight off the intruders that make you sick.
Turn Down the Thermostat
Adding an extra layer of clothing when indoors is a simple way to feel warm while saving on heating costs during the winter. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can save as much as 10% a year on heating by turning your thermostat down 7°–10°F from its normal setting for 8 hours a day, like when everyone is asleep. An AprilAire programmable thermostat makes the process simple.
As mentioned above, balanced humidity makes a difference for temperature, too. Moist air holds heat better and allows you to feel warmer at a lower temperature. In fact, a 4% bump in relative humidity feels like a 1°F warmer environment.
Making your favorite holiday meals is one of the best cures for the winter blues. And all that time in the kitchen doesn’t have to mean a bloated energy bill.
One way to save energy is to pick the smallest appliance that will get the job done. Things like slow cookers, microwaves, air fryers, and toaster ovens are great substitutes for a large oven or stove top.
If kitchen appliances are on your holiday wish list this year, start with a new refrigerator—models that are 15 years or older can use up to twice the amount of energy as a new fridge.