In our service territory, Fall typically starts to settle in somewhere around October. As the sun becomes scarce and temperatures drop, we pull out our sweatshirts and our home heating systems begin to wake up. Although these systems are doing exactly what they’re designed to do, we usually don’t realize how often they’re running. Because most of us haven’t touched our thermostats yet, we’re often surprised - and even confused - when we open our energy bills.
So why does our energy use increase?
Our heaters begin firing up in the colder overnight hours to keep us comfortable as we sleep. It’s easy to forget this is happening because we’re not awake to notice. If you’re unsure whether or not the heat has been on, compare the temperature inside your home against the temperature outside. If it’s much warmer inside than it is outside, you can be sure your heating system has been working. Check your thermostat and remember that reducing the temperature by just three degrees can result in an approximate 10 percent energy savings.
If you own a standard water heater, you can bet it’s putting in overtime these days, too. As the ground begins to cool off, the water coming into our homes gets much colder. This means our water heaters have to use more energy to produce hot water for showers and to clean laundry and dishes. Set your water heater at no more than 120 degrees to ensure it’s not working harder than it needs to.
Our lighting choices also start to make a difference this time of year. As daylight fades, we begin turning lights on throughout our homes because we can’t rely on natural sunlight anymore. This is a great time to consider swapping out older incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs for new, energy efficient LEDs. LEDs use far less energy and can put out even brighter light than other options.
During colder months, home heating can account for 40% to 60% of our monthly energy bills. Water heating can account for nearly 14% and while we may not be able to control the changing weather, we can take steps to control our energy use. Before the cold really sets in, use our winter temperature control tips to prepare your home for the coming months and avoid surprises on your heating bill.