Tips to manage your energy use this winter


Tips to manage your energy use this winter

When the temperatures drop, winter electric bills can send a chill down your spine as the electric unit that heats your home works overtime. This winter, take control of your electricity usage with these helpful tips.
Learn to love 68 degrees. That’s the winter thermostat setting the U.S. Department of Energy recommends you maintain while you are at home and awake. Since the ceiling fan can move warm air down, you may be able to go a little lower — as much as 4 degrees — and still stay comfortable.

Limit use of appliances. Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances. Avoid running large appliances such as washers, dryers and electric ovens during peak energy demand hours (6 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. in the winter).

Let the sunshine in. Leave your curtains and blinds open during the day to let sunshine warm your house the natural way. At night, close shades to keep warm air in. For added efficiency, invest in insulated curtains that can curb your electric bill year-round.

Ceiling fans in the winter? Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your ceiling fan is useless. By flipping a switch on the fan so the blades turn in a clockwise rotation, the fan will create an updraft that pushes warm air down and keeps it circulating.
Use our Energy Tracking Tool to compare temperatures and power use. With children out of school, family members visiting, holiday parties and many Texans’ general intolerance for the cold (we can’t blame you — it must be in our genes), it’s easy for your electricity use to soar. Study our Energy Tracking Tool when you log in to your online account. You can compare the temperature with your power use by the hour, day or billing period. Look back to see what your comparable use was last winter on similarly cold days. Also use it to see if your energy use spikes on days with lots of use, like those holiday family gatherings. To create an online account, click here. There is a lot more you can learn from your Energy Tracking Tool, including your environmental impact. Read more about how to use it and better manage your power use and costs.
Seal air leaks. It’s estimated that a third of an average home’s heat loss occurs through doors and windows. Seal around interior doors and windows with caulking and install weatherstripping around doors and windows that separate you from the elements. While you’re at it, tightly close and lock your windows and doors for the best seal. Reducing air leaks keeps warm air in and cold air out.

Set it and forget it. Many people tend to turn their heaters off when they leave for work or for the weekend and, when they return to a chilly house, turn the thermostat higher than normal to quickly warm the house. This uses more energy than simply turning your thermostat down a few degrees before you leave. Next time you leave for the weekend, set your thermostat at 60 degrees — your electric bill will warm your heart.
Use space heaters properly. Space heaters are designed to raise the temperature by a few degrees or to supplement inadequate heating in one room — not to heat your entire house. When buying a space heater, consider a radiant one. Radiant heaters directly heat objects and people in front of them, making them much more energy efficient options, particularly if you’re only using one briefly and near you.
Check your fi­replace. If it’s not in use, it could do more harm than good. When you don’t have a cozy fire to curl up in front of, tightly close the fireplace’s damper to prevent cold air from entering your house. Make sure to open the damper before you light the next fire, though, and leave it open until the ashes are cool.
Wrap your water heater. By installing a jacket on your water heater and insulation on pipes, you can reduce heat loss by 25 to 40 percent. Browse the Internet or your local home improvement store, as prices vary depending on size and insulation type. Installation is an easy weekend DIY project for two people. For more information and instructions, check out
Break out the sweaters. Now is the time to pull out your winter wear and don it inside the house, not just outside. Warm clothes let you lower the heat. Every degree you turn down on the thermostat can cut your energy use by 6 to 8 percent. 

Set up text or email alerts. Go to and click on the Text & Email tab on this page. You can sign up to get alerts when your bill reaches a certain dollar amount or you exceed a preset level of power use. You can also get alerts about daily power use spikes (as well as when there is a power outage at your address). While you are on that website page, click on the Mobile tab and learn about how to use our mobile app to get alerts, pay your bill and more. Get more tips on saving power in the winter on our website.
This list was adapted from a 2014 Bluebonnet article.

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