Money-saving tips to reduce winter energy bills


American households could see their energy bills rise in the coming months, as the federal government warned that the price of electricity is likely to continue to rise during the winter.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts the average price of electricity for residential consumers could reach 15.86 cents per kilowatt hour in the second quarter of 2023, an increase of 5.17% from the second quarter of This year. Electricity prices on average for 2022 are expected to increase by 7.5% compared to 2021.

Energy experts from EnergySage, a Boston-based online marketplace specializing in solar power systems, said Newsweek that prices are up 64% in some states year over year.

National Grid announced plans to increase electric rates in Massachusetts starting Nov. 1: “In total, the monthly bill for a typical residential electric customer using 600 kWh (kilowatt-hours) will increase from $179 to the 2021-2022 winter season at approximately $293. for the 2022-2023 winter season.”

Stock photo of a $100 bill and electricity extension cable. Energy bills may be on the rise, but there are things Americans can do to lower their electric bills, like swapping out old bulbs for LEDs and turning down the thermostat a few degrees in the winter.
Getty

More Americans may be worried about the affordability of their bills this winter, as research from online loan market LendingTree showed that 32% have paid a bill late in the past six months, more half using their overdraft to pay essential bills and two-thirds saying they struggle to pay at least one of their bills.

Nick Liberati, communications manager for EnergySage, said: “A number of factors influence how much a typical household could save, such as ongoing upgrades, whether or not to replace a less efficient system, energy prices in your area, where you live, etc.”

But, he added, there are many ways to reduce your household energy consumption and reduce the cost of electricity for your home.

1. Start with a home energy audit

According to Liberati, the best place to start is for homeowners to conduct an energy audit of their home to assess their overall energy consumption and identify energy efficiency measures.

“An energy auditor will assess where your home is losing the most energy, then suggest improvements that will help you save energy and lower your utility bills,” he says.

“And depending on where you live, your energy audit may be free, as many utility companies, nonprofits, or government organizations will cover the cost.”

Some of these programs will not only cover the cost of the audit, but also provide households with energy-efficient products and installations at a significantly reduced price, or even potentially for free, Liberati added.

“Here in Massachusetts, the Mass Save program covered 75% of the cost of my insulation needs.”

2. Insulate your home

Insulation plays a key role in reducing utility bills by trapping heat in the winter and keeping the heat out in the summer. If you have enough money to upgrade your home, you could save on your bills in the long run.

“The level of insulation you need to install depends on the square footage of your home,” Liberati said.

“Your attic, walls, floors, basement and crawl space are the top five areas where you should consider adding insulation.”

3. Join Community Solar

If you’ve been waiting for the excuse to start the switch to renewable energy, Liberati suggests checking out any community solar programs in your area that could help you cut costs for a fraction of the price of installing your own solar panels.

“Community solar allows anyone with an electricity bill to benefit from solar energy and lighten their electricity load without installing anything on their property or changing their consumption habits.

“It works like this: a large-scale solar farm (those big fields of solar panels you’ve seen along highways) feeds electricity into the local grid.”

Homeowners who have projects for which they are eligible can buy some of the electricity produced, usually through a subscription, and receive a reduction on their electricity bills.

Liberati added, “Most community solar subscribers save around 10% on their annual electricity costs, and there’s usually no cost to sign up.”

4. Install solar panels on the roof

Reducing your energy consumption is one thing, but generating your own electricity can reduce your costs even further if you have enough funds to commit to the long-term investment.

“Obviously, this one isn’t as easy or affordable as the others, but installing solar power is one of the smartest ways to save money,” Liberati said.

“Solar panels produce electricity for over 25 years, and the average solar homeowner can pay for their solar investment in just 8-10 years, depending on where you live.

“And thanks to solar loans and the extension of the federal solar tax credit included in the IRA bill, solar is much more accessible than ever.”

Ten ways to reduce your energy consumption

1. Replace your traditional bulbs with efficient LEDs.
2. Install a programmable thermostat or smart meter.
3. Switch to energy-efficient kitchen appliances.
4. Install energy-efficient windows and upgrade your HVAC [heating, ventilation, and air conditioning] system.
5. Wash your clothes in 120°F water instead of 140°F.
6. Perform maintenance checks on your appliances and replace air filters.
7. Eliminate drafts and keep interior doors closed when heating your home.
8. Run your ceiling fans upside down.
9. Do not leave electrical devices on standby overnight.
10. Check your bill to make sure you are paying the correct rates.

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