Warmth in winter can be cheaper with energy-saving tips for lower electric bills
By Kim Komando
Published: Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The leaves are starting to curl, there's a chill in the air, and pumpkin-flavored treats are everywhere. It's fall.
Of course, when fall arrives, winter can't be too far behind. And when temperatures start to drop, you can bet your monthly electric bill will climb.
No need to panic, though. You can save money without giving up the comforts of a toasty home. I have some tips to keep your bills under control this winter — or any other season.
• Beware of vampires
You probably know about easy winter fixes like sealing gaps around doors and windows to prevent precious heat from escaping. But did you know your home has dozens of energy-draining culprits? I call these foes vampire electronics.
TVs, computers and other gadgets are guilty of sucking lots of energy day and night, even when you're not using them. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that these idle gadgets burn through more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity nationwide each year. That's about $10 billion worth of energy.
The easiest way to stop vampire electronics from driving up your electric bill is to unplug them when they're not in use. Of course, sometimes it's hard to give up the convenience of having your gadgets plugged in and ready to go at a moment's notice.
If that's the case, many companies sell affordable power switches that you can plug into wall outlets. The power switches let you control the power to any outlet with a simple flick of a switch. Use these on countertop appliances like your coffee maker and watch savings add up.
Another great option: adapters with built-in timers. If you plan to use space heaters or put up holiday lights, using a built-in timer can shave dollars and cents off your winter electric bill. Timers offer peace of mind on those hectic days when you can't remember if you turned off your gadgets before leaving the house.
Big-ticket items like your TV and computer are the biggest energy-suckers. Use a smart power strip or surge suppressor for these gadgets. Smart power strips will shut down a power outlet when it senses your gadgets have gone into standby mode.
And did you know that putting your desktop computer in sleep mode can save almost as much energy as unplugging it?
Not sure what gadgets are draining the most energy? You can buy electricity usage monitors that will pinpoint exactly which appliances and electronics are the biggest winter energy culprits.
• Limit ‘peak hour' use
You can save money on your electric bill simply by changing the time of day you run the oven, do laundry or run the heater. That's because power companies change electric costs based on the time of day. It can cost 30 to 60 percent more to operate electronics during peak hours of energy usage, usually between 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 9 p.m. Every company defines peak hours differently, so check with your provider.
• Save with gadgets
Energy-saving gadgets like Energy Star appliances might score you savings with your power company.
You might qualify for rebates for purchasing energy-efficient appliances. Even switching to compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs can count.
Email Kim Komando at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Still waiting on Crosby, Malkin
- Police respond to Hill District standoff
- Rossi: Lack of together time showing for Penguins’ defense
- LaBar: Did WWE referee know finish to Undertaker match?
- Fleury a bright spot among struggling Penguins in playoffs
- Truck crash causes fracking water, diesel spill into Chartiers Creek
- Egg decorating turns to fight, charges in Brookline, police say
- 3 ejected after Pirates, Brewers brawl
- Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
- None injured when car strikes school bus in Derry Township
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?