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Why Is Your Electric Bill So High During the Winter?

If you live somewhere with a variable climate, your electricity bill probably spikes during the winter due to the energy needed to heat your home and water. This guide covers some other culprits plus solutions for how to keep your winter utilities reasonable.

The Main Culprits

In regions where temperatures fluctuate wildly throughout the year, residents tend to see a big spike in energy consumption (and therefore, their energy bills) during the winter months. That's because, in the United States, heating represents nearly half of the average utility bill. But there's more to the story than just your thermostat. Today, we're answering the question why is my electric bill so high in the winter? We'll also go over some brilliant ways to cut it down—from smart home automation solutions to changing your day-to-day habits.
electric bill with calculator
  • Heating: Space and Water—Of course, when it's cold out, you're cranking up the heat. In fact, studies show that heat—including space heating and water heating—accounts for nearly two-thirds of a home's energy use throughout the year. That may be more than your air conditioning, lighting, TVs and major household appliances combined.
  • Inefficiencies: Drafts, Doors and Windows—If you live in an old home or one that wasn't made for energy efficiency, you'll notice that your furnace has to work extra-hard for the same result since more energy is needed to heat your home to a comfortable temperature. This is because the heat tends to escape through drafts in the walls, doors and windows.
  • Staying In: The Holidays and Spending Time at Home—Even if you have the most efficient heating system ever, you may still notice a spike in your energy bill during the idle winter months simply because you're spending more time at home cooking, watching TV and generally using utilities. Having friends and family in town for the holidays—and running energy-hogging Christmas lights—may also cause a slight rise in electricity use.

How to Lower Your Electric Bill in the Winter

  • Invest in a Smart Thermostat—Designed to minimize energy waste, smart thermostats can revolutionize how you heat by giving you more control. They can automatically adjust to your schedule, ensuring that you never have the heat cranked up when you don't need it.
  • Nest Learning Smart Thermostat
  • Address Any and All Drafts—What good is heat if it just escapes? In the fall or spring, take time to address any vulnerabilities in the walls, doors, windows and chimneys, patching up any drafts or breezy doorways so that the warm air stays where it should—inside.
  • Replace the Air Filter on Your Furnace—Dirty filters will just slow down your system, causing it to work harder for the same result. Make sure you swap out your furnace's filter each year before winter begins and keep an eye on it throughout the season.
  • Close off Certain Areas of Your Home—Got a guest room, basement, attic or workshop where nobody spends time? If possible, block them off and cut off their heating source.
  • Upgrade to Efficient Appliances—Next to heating and cooling, your home's appliances are some of the biggest energy hogs. Luckily, you can reduce their strain on your house by swapping them out for newer, more energy-efficient appliances.
  • Bundle Up—Sometimes it just comes down to bundling up, and if you grew up with budget-minded parents, you're already used to this one. Invest in a down comforter and temperature-regulating sheets to seal in the warmth.
  • Use the Fireplace or Wood-Burning Stove—If you're lucky enough to have a wood-burning fireplace or stove in your house, consider routinely using it to heat a portion of your house. This will reduce the burden on your electric heater, lowering your bills.
bright living room interior

Conclusion

Most likely, the reason for the wintertime price spike is the amount of heat you're using to stay comfortable, both in the form of the ambient heat coming from your furnace and water heater you use to warm up the water in your kitchen, shower and laundry room. Since cutting off or turning down the heat isn't a good idea, especially if you're facing a particularly chilly winter, you can follow these helpful tips to keep your budget in check.

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