7 Ways to Keep Utility Bills Low in the Winter

By Christine Ascher on December 19, 2017

Though living in an apartment while you’re in college can have a lot of advantages—you’ll have a lot more space than you would in a dorm, for instance—there are also some downsides. One of these potential negatives is the fact that you’ll have to pay utility bills. Unfortunately, especially in the summer and winter months when you’re using the heat or air conditioning a lot, utility costs can easily creep up. However, there are ways to keep your bills manageable. To avoid paying too much for utilities this winter, try following these tips to lower costs.

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Turn the Heat Down When You Leave Your Apartment

Regardless of where you like to set your thermostat when you’re home, one easy way to save some money is just by turning the temperature down a bit when you go out. There’s no point in paying to heat an empty apartment, so turning the heat down before you leave can help you save without actually having to sacrifice being warm. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning down your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours can help you save around 10% on your energy bills. Whether you’re going to class or to work, turning down the heat can make a big difference—you may even want to consider studying at the library instead of at home so you can leave the heat (and your lights) off for a bit longer.

Dress Warmly           

In addition to turning the heat down when you’re not home, you can also save some money by setting your thermostat at a slightly lower temperature than normal and bundling up inside. If you wear a cozy sweater and some warm socks while in your apartment, you won’t need to use as much heat to stay warm. You can also try putting an extra blanket on your bed so that you can turn the heat down a bit at night. Maintaining a warm temperature inside your apartment at all times during the winter will definitely make your utility bills creep up as the weather gets colder, but consciously making an effort to turn the heating down whenever possible can help you combat this.

Open Curtains to Let in the Sun

When your apartment is feeling chilly, remember that (during the day at least), you have a natural source of heat to take advantage of: the sun. Open up your curtains to let in the sunlight, and your apartment will get some extra warmth without you having to pay the cost. If you’re still feeling cold, try sitting directly in the path of sunlight from the windows—even if the rest of your apartment is chilly, it should be nice and warm there.

Use Insulated Window Coverings

It’s not surprising if your college apartment doesn’t have the most energy-efficient windows, so if you find that a lot of cold air finds its way into your apartment through poorly sealed windows, try investing in some insulated window coverings. They’ll help prevent cold air from getting into your apartment and making it even colder so that your furnace won’t have to work overtime to keep your apartment at the same temperature. You can even just use a plastic sheet to cover your window if you don’t want to purchase curtains or drapes; anything that will keep the cold air from entering your apartment will do.

Opt for LED Lights

Especially considering the fact that it gets dark much earlier in the winter, it’s a good idea to use LED light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. They’re much more energy efficient, so your electricity bill will stay under control even if you need to have the lights on for longer than usual. The same goes if you decide to decorate for the holidays with some string lights: using LED lights will be more efficient and won’t cause your electricity bill to spike up.

Use a Humidifier

If you’re having trouble keeping your apartment at a warm temperature, try purchasing a humidifier. Because moist air retains heat better, a humidifier will help keep your apartment warm by preventing the air in the space from getting too dry. While you will have to make the initial investment to get a humidifier, in the long run, it will pay off with lower utility bills and a warmer apartment.

Unplug Electronics When Not in Use

Electronics that are plugged in can use a lot of energy, even when they’re not in use. There’s no point paying extra on your utility bills for electronics that aren’t even turned on, so make sure that you’re unplugging everything when you’re not using them. Be cognizant of when your phone and laptop are finished charging so that you don’t leave them plugged in for longer than necessary, and remember to unplug all lamps, TVs, and other electronics if you’re not going to be in your apartment over winter break.

By Christine Ascher

Uloop Writer
Hi! I'm Christine and I'm currently a senior at the University of Southern California, where I study English Literature, Economics, and French.

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