The only thing consistent about winter in Southwest Oklahoma and North Texas is its unpredictability. Fluctuations in outdoor temperatures and conditions make planning for energy efficiency and household budgets difficult for many of our members. That's why we've pulled together a few of the tips below to help you reduce your winter bills.
Managing Your Bill
If you're trying to plan ahead, you might check out our Budget/Average Monthly Billing program. This simple program is absolutely free to SWRE members and allows you to divide the year-round cost of electricity to your home across a 12 month average, eliminating the suprising spikes in bills that many experience during peak winter and summer months.
If you have been a member of Southwest Rural Electric Co-op for 12 months or longer, you can sign up for this program by following the link below.
- Read more on Budget/Average Monthly Billing
Maintaining & Upgrading Equipment
The U.S. Department of Energy reports the average American household spends more than 44 percent of its annual energy budget on heating and cooling. No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system you have in your house, you can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. Regular inspection, ductwork cleaning and maintenance, and necessary upgrades to the system will typically pay for themselves in energy savings.
But an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, weatherization, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy bills in half.
If you use electricity to heat your home, consider installing an energy-efficient heat pump system. Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate climates, providing three times more heating than the equivalent amount of energy they consume in electricity. There are three types of heat pumps: air-to-air, water source, and ground source. They collect heat from the air, water, or ground outside your home and concentrate it for use inside. Heat pumps do double duty as a central air conditioner. They can also cool your home by collecting the heat inside your house and effectively pumping it outside. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating as much as 30% to 40%.
Insulate windows with thick curtains or blinds to reduce heat loss. Thermal draperies, made with a thick, fiber-filled backing to fit snugly against the entire window frame, can reduce heat loss by as much as 50 percent and save you $15 per window.
Install storm windows for an extra layer of insulation. If you can’t install storm windows, apply a sheet of heavy-duty clear plastic over each window. Check your local hardware store for easy-to-install window insulation kits.
Saving Money With Your Thermostat
If your house sits empty for part of the day, there’s a way to save up to 10 percent on your heating and cooling bill: Install a programmable thermostat.
You can program the thermostat to automatically turn the heat down by 10 to 15 percent during hours of the day when everybody’s out. Then, it will crank the heat back up right before you’re scheduled to return, so it’s warm and comfortable by the time you get home.
It works overnight, too; most people sleep comfortably at cooler temperatures than they like during the day. So program your thermostat to cool the house slightly while you’re snuggled under the covers for extra savings on your energy bill.
Of course, you can do this manually as well. Turn the heat down for eight hours a day, and you’ll save as much as 10 percent a year. Just don’t forget!