Between holiday houseguests and shorter, colder days, electric bills tend to climb in the winter. Read on for ways to save energy when the temperature drops.


  • Lower your thermostat to 68° (or lower). If you decrease the temperature by just one degree, you can save up to 5% on heating costs.
  • Consider a programmable thermostat that you can set to lower the temperature when away from home and increase before you come back.
  • HVAC systems will have to work twice as hard if vents are blocked by rugs, furniture, or doors. Keep vents clear for proper air flow.


  • Keep blinds and curtains open to let in sunlight during the day, and close at night to keep heat inside and protect from drafts.
  • Sealing and insulating is the best way to keep heat in and air out. Areas that may need sealing include corners, cracks, door frames, and windows.


  • Reduce hot water temperatures. Heating water accounts for 12% of the average home’s energy use. Set your water heater’s thermostat to no more than 120°—that’s usually sufficient for a household’s hot-water needs. Also, if you’ve had your water heater for more than 12 years, you might want to consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient model.


  • Consider replacing old appliances, doors, and windows with ENERGY STAR-rated models. You can save about 15% of your normal energy use with these appliances and get better insulation on doors and windows for the price you pay. ENERGY STAR-rated items meet special efficiency standards set by the federal government.
  • Don’t make your fridge work too hard. A temperature set between 34° and 37° Fahrenheit is usually sufficient.


  • A special holiday tip: Use LED lights to decorate. They’re up to 75% more energy efficient than traditional incandescent lights and last much longer—but check for an ENERGY STAR-rating before you buy. Cheaper LEDs tend not to last as long or be as durable.

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