Saving money on utilities this winter

While it's not yet Thanksgiving, the fact of the matter is that cold winter weather is right around the corner. The problem with this for many Americans is that they tend to spend a lot more on their heat and even electricity during the winter months, and it's often hard to squeeze that into a monthly budget. However, there are a number of ways in which consumers can reduce these costs on an ongoing basis.

For example, the single biggest ways in which homes lose heated air in the winter and cooled air in the summer is barely visible. Often, a home or apartment will have lots of little cracks in the seals around doors and windows, and while no single crack is going to be particularly large or sometimes even noticeable, over the course of every window and door in a house, they can add up quickly. Some experts estimate that, altogether, the space of these can be roughly equivalent to leaving a window open all winter long. This is especially true of older homes that haven't been maintained all that well in recent years.

What can be done?
Fortunately, the fix for this is relatively easy and extremely beneficial. People can either look up how to address these issues by themselves online, and only pay the cost of the materials to patch these broken seals, or hire a professional for relatively little investment to do the job instead. Even the latter option is something that, in all likelihood, is going to end up paying for itself within just a month or two in a lot of cases.

What else can happen?
In addition, it might be wise to turn down the heat in a house by a few degrees, because even dropping from 70 to 68 percent can, in many cases, trim as much as 5 percent to 10 percent from a monthly heating bill, and most people won't notice the difference. This is also true of hot water heaters, because while the average person might think it's a good idea to take a long shower when the temperatures drop, that can really add up on a heating bill as well.

As far as dialing back electricity use goes, there are many things consumers can do, including setting their lights to timers that work when it gets dark earlier in the day. But another thing many people who live in drafty houses can do is not plug in their space heaters at night and instead maybe just buy another heavy blanket or two to keep them warm at night. That, again, is a small one-time investment that will usually pay for itself pretty quickly.

With all this in mind, consumers may be able to free up plenty of money in the coming months, and those are funds they can potentially put toward solid financial goals like building an emergency savings account or paying down debt to improve their credit score.

Want to learn more?