Many people across the US are spending more money on energy bills than in prior years. On January 30, 2023, USA Today reported that home heating prices are at the highest level in 10 years per the energy assistance association. They projected, on average, households will pay 12.7% more for home heating this winter, with heating oil expected to rise the most from last year, up to 25.9%. These higher energy burdens are driven by numerous factors, including a surge in natural gas prices, supply and demand, and geopolitical issues. As heating bills roll in, consumers are experiencing some sticker shock and are searching for ways to reduce heating costs. Here are three that might help:
- Take simple steps such as turning the thermostat down. Energy.gov explains that people can save money on both heating and cooling bills by resetting the thermostat when they are sleeping or are away from home. It is ideal to use a programmable thermostat, one that can store multiple daily settings and allow users to take advantage of pre-set schedules. It is estimated that turning one’s thermostat back 7-to-10 degrees F for 8 hours a day can save as much as 10% per year on heating and cooling. In addition, a combination of sensible practices, including changing air filters regularly, shutting doors to unused rooms, allowing sunlight to enter and warm rooms during the day, making sure that vents are not blocked, keeping vents clean of debris, and winterizing windows and doors to prevent drafts are effective ways to help save money.
- Get a professional home energy audit. Some homes have a hard time retaining heat due to improper insulation. If you suspect this or have a similar issue related to wasting energy, consider getting this type of audit to identify problematic areas within the home. During this process, also called a home energy assessment, a Home Environmental Solutions specialist will perform inspections and tests to analyze the efficiency, safety, and function of home systems. These experts can provide a clear picture of your home’s energy use and find solutions such as insulating to reduce air leakage or other options to save homeowners money. Some energy utilities conduct residential energy assessments. Or one may contact the state or local government energy office to identify local companies or organizations who are properly certified to conduct such tests.
- Shop around for better energy rates. When folks think about their electric company, they generally think of the local utility company that maintains power lines and delivers electricity. However, people who live in deregulated states have the option of shopping around to compare plans and rates. This opens the door to exploring the free market of energy providers who buy and sell energy. In some cases, but not all, a change to another electric provider can help save money. However, consumers must shop around, review and understand plans and rates, and confirm the switch to a new energy provider. Fixed and variable rates are some of the choices, with fixed rates generally being a safer option. Should you choose to remain with your current energy provider, it is wise to explore ways to lower your rates by inquiring about special money-saving programs for which you may be eligible.
Today’s economy is tough, with Americans facing historically high costs of living and basics like eggs costing 60% more than a year ago. Families and elders on fixed incomes already face increased costs of goods, services, and necessities such as food and rent. Thus, it’s imperative to be wise and address high energy bills by analyzing and seeking cost cutting solutions that can stop the money bleed.