Four Ways to Fight the Winter Chill, Save Energy and Stay Safe

We all have our favorite season. Some people love crisp, cool weather and bundling up under a favorite blanket, while others prefer the warm temperatures summer brings and all fun outdoor activities that go with it. 

We’re here to help you find ways to manage your home energy use, keep winter bills in check and stay safe around space heaters and generators. 
Temperature Management 

  • Set thermostats to 68 degrees or the lowest comfortable thermostat setting and turn it down several degrees whenever possible. (Warming and cooling the home accounts for 55 percent of residential energy use.)
  • Lower your thermostat at night and when you're away from home.
  • When your fireplace is not in use, close the damper.
  • Open blinds, drapes and curtains to let in warmth from the sun and close them at night to keep out the cold. If you feel cold air around windows, consider hanging curtains or drapes in a thicker material; heavier window coverings can make a significant difference in blocking cold outdoor air.
  • Caulk or weather strip around windows, exterior doors and any gaps. If you can feel drafts while standing near a window or door, it likely needs to be sealed.
  • If you’re still feeling chilly at home, think of other ways to warm up––beyond dialing up the thermostat. Add layers of clothing, wear thick socks and bundle up under blankets.  

Appliance and Energy Use

  • Ensure your HVAC system is functioning properly and that filters are replaced regularly.
  • Delay and stagger doing laundry, running your dishwasher, and other non-essential uses of electricity until temperatures return to normal. When running the dishwasher or clothes washer, only wash full loads. (Water heaters use 14 percent of a home’s energy.)
  • If you drive an electric vehicle, make sure it is fully charged before the extreme weather. Remember, cold weather will increase the rate of charge depletion.
  • Heat foods at the lowest possible setting and refrain from opening the oven door while baking.

Emergency Preparedness

  • Have non-perishable foods and a manual can opener on hand such as canned fruit, powdered milk, peanut butter and crackers.
  • In case water pipes freeze or rupture, keep a supply of tap water or purchase bottled water. The recommended amount of water to keep is one gallon per person per day for three days.
  • Have batteries and first aid supplies on hand, including hand sanitizer and at least one week’s supply of prescriptions and medications for the family.

Safety Measures 

  • Never leave space heaters unattended. If you’re using a space heater, turn if off before leaving the room. Make sure heaters are placed at least three feet away from flammable items. It should also be noted that space heaters take a toll on your energy bills. If you’re using them throughout your home, it may be time to upgrade your home heating system. 
  • Inspect your electric blankets and heating pads – look for dark, charred or frayed spots, and make sure the electrical cord is not damaged. Do not place any items on top of a heating pad or electric blanket, and never fold them when in use. 
  • Use portable generators safely. Never connect a standby generator into your home’s electrical system. For portable generators, plug appliances directly into the outlet provided on the generator. Start the generator first, before you plug in appliances. Run it in a well-ventilated area outside your home. The carbon monoxide it generates is deadly, so keep it away from your garage, doors, windows and vents. 

By being proactive about saving energy, you can increase the comfort of your home and reduce monthly bills. Visit our energy savings center and safety center for additional tips.