With winter comes increased utility costs. While some amount of extra cost is natural, there are many ways to save on utility bills that can prevent normal winter heating and lighting from exceeding your budget.
When it's cold in the house, you typically crank up the thermostat. Instead of doing that, put on a wool sweater or an extra pair of socks. Just keeping the thermostat one degree lower than you otherwise might will lower your home heating useage by 3 to 5 percent. Maintain a temperature of 65 Fahrenheit at night and pile the blankets on the bed if you get cold. If you are likely to forget to do this, consider installing a programmable thermostat.
Keeping the window blinds open in the day helps heat your home by taking advantage of the sun's natural energy. At night, close the blinds to keep the warmth in. If windows are drafty, use weatherproofing measures such as plastic window film, caulk or weather-stripping to keep the cold air out. Don't overlook hidden sources of drafts like ventilation or pipes.
Using the dishwasher actually consumes less water than doing that sink full of dishes by hand. Always run your washing machine and dishwasher when they are full. To save up to 75 percent off of your washer's energy use, use the cold water setting. If your appliances are old, upgrading to Energy Star models can reduce your energy usage and lower your utility bills.
Because it gets dark earlier in winter and there is less natural light available, your electricity usage tends to increase. Installing a timer on lights in infrequently used rooms and the home exterior can help you consume less electricity than you might if you relied on your family members to turn off the lights when exiting a room. I you have not already done so, switching to CFLs, which consume less energy than incandescent lightbulbs, can help you save some money this winter.