6 Appliances To Turn Off This Winter To Avoid Higher Bills

Electricity prices have jumped in recent months as inflation endures. Though we always see a spike in costs during the winter due to increased usage of select appliances, this winter could usher in even more dreadful bills than normal, chiefly because of inflation. 

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One of the key tricks to getting your bills down this winter is to decrease usage of appliances that drain the most energy. But which appliances are these, and how much roughly can you save by turning them off (or limiting usage) during the cold months? Let’s have a look. 

Heating System 

“You may not be able to leave it off all the time during the cold winter months; but, if you plan ahead, you should be able to get away with using it far less frequently,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. “Take advantage of heavy baking and cooking days, for example — if you live in a smaller home, then running the stove and oven could warm up some main areas nicely.

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“Even if you have a larger home, if your heating system isn’t very efficient, then you’ll want to look into other ways to keep warm. Consider lighting a fire if you have a fireplace or utilize heaters in the most used rooms of your home. And, of course, bundle up. Taking these steps can easily cut at least 50% off your heating bill, if not more, so that you enjoy much lower utilities in winter in general.”

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Dehumidifier

“Unless you live in a ridiculously humid place, the winter months are likely going to be cold and dry, so you can skip using these appliances altogether for the most part,” Ramhold said. “At peak usage, these appliances can cost as much as $100 per month to run, depending on where you live and how much electricity yours uses; however, in the winter, that shouldn’t be an issue.

“If you’re used to running it full blast and paying upwards of $100 per month, then you’ll likely notice an equal amount of savings by letting this appliance rest in the winter — though that’s an extreme case. Most households can probably expect to save $15 to $16 per month by not using a dehumidifier in the winter, depending on the area you live in and the cost of electricity.”

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Air Conditioning

“It might sound weird, but for those that live in more temperate climates or just tend to be more hot-natured in general, using air conditioning year round is a must for comfortable living,” Ramhold said. “However, you can cut back on your bills by up to 50% by leaving the A/C off and opting to open the windows on cool days instead.”

Fans

“While fans can help to circulate warm air, many people are probably far more comfortable just leaving them off altogether,” Ramhold said. “Savings may be minimal — most ceiling fans cost about 10 cents per day to use — but even saving a few cents here and there can help and will definitely add up, especially over the long winter.”

Hot Water Heater

“A hot water heater can account for a significant portion of your energy usage, especially if you have a large family or use a lot of hot water,” said Andrew Lokenauth, founder of Fluent in Finance. “To save money, you can lower the temperature of your hot water heater, take shorter showers and fix any leaks.”

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You also might consider investing in a new hot water tank. 

“Sometimes, saving is not about a decreased use but a smarter use,” said Adam Garcia, founder of The Stock Dork. “Water heaters are the case in point. You can’t just go without warm water. But if you replace your old heater with a new one and choose a modern tankless or combi unit, you’ll be able to save several hundred dollars per year.

“The difference in energy efficiency is enormous: A traditional unit heats up water in advance and stores it in the tank for when you need it. But the water soon begins to cool off if you don’t use it all, and that’s pure leakage of energy and therefore money. That’s where a tankless unit shines. It heats up water instantly, at the push of a button, when you need it. That way, you’ll only use exactly the amount of energy that you really need. No more heating up 50 gallons of water just because you need 2 gallons to wash your hands.”

Refrigerator

You shouldn’t unplug your refrigerator. But you should make sure you’re using it properly, especially during these high-energy consuming times. 

“A refrigerator can use a lot of energy, particularly if it is old or inefficient,” Lokenauth said. “To save money, you can make sure that your refrigerator is properly sealed and keep the temperature set at the recommended level.”

Other Ways To Cut Energy Costs

Note that there are a few other things you can do to trim your energy bill this time of year. 

Use an Electric Blanket Instead of a Space Heater 

“You can turn on an electric blanket for 10 to 30 minutes to effectively warm your body all night as the heat is trapped under the doona, saving electricity from using a space heater,” said Robert Johnson, the senior director of merchandising at Coast Appliances. “Electric blankets generate 100 to 150 watts of power, keeping your heating costs to a minimum at  25 to 50 cents per night. On the other hand, most space heaters consume 1,500 watts or $5 for 24 hours.”

Install a Programmable Thermostat 

“The best way to save money on your energy bill is by installing a programmable thermostat,” said Lana Chere, director of operations at Home Alliance. “The device allows you to control when heat and cooling are turned off, which can help reduce wasteful habits like running heaters when they’re not needed.”

Inspect Your Dryer Vent

“If you have a leaky dryer vent, the hot air escaping through it could cost you in more ways than one,” Chere said. “Professional duct services are necessary at least twice per year to ensure that there aren’t other costs hiding around any corner.” 

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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