Money saving tips to reduce energy bills in winter

American household utility bills could rise in the coming months as the federal government warned that electricity prices are likely to continue to rise in the winter.

The US Energy Information Administration forecast that the average residential electricity price could reach 15.86 cents per kilowatt-hour in the second quarter of 2023, up 5.17 percent from the second quarter of this year. Electricity prices are expected to rise by 7.5 percent on average in 2022 from 2021.

Energy experts from EnergySage, a Boston-based online marketplace specializing in solar energy systems, said news week that prices in some states are increasing by as much as 64 percent year-on-year.

National Grid announced plans to increase electricity rates in Massachusetts beginning November 1: “Total total, the monthly bill of a typical residential electric customer consuming 600 kWh (kilowatt hours) will go from $179 in the 2021-2022 winter season to about $293 US dollars rise for 2022-2023 winter season.”

Stock photo of a $100 bill and electricity extension cord. Energy bills may be rising, but there are things Americans can do to lower their electric bills, like swapping out old lightbulbs for LEDs and turning down the thermostat a few degrees in the winter.
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More Americans may be worried about bill affordability this winter, as research from online loan marketplace LendingTree showed that 32 percent have paid a bill late in the past six months, with more than half using their overdraft to pay off important bills and two-thirds say they struggle to afford at least one of their bills.

Nick Liberati, communications manager at EnergySage, said: “A number of factors influence how much a typical household could save such as where you live etc.”

However, he added that there are many different ways to reduce your household’s energy use and lower your home’s electricity bills.

1. Start with a Home Energy Audit

According to Liberati, the best place to start for homeowners is to conduct an energy audit to assess their overall energy use and identify energy efficiency improvements.

“An energy auditor assesses where your home is losing the most energy, then suggests improvements that will help save energy — and lower your utility bills,” he said.

“And depending on where you live, your energy audit could be free, as many utility companies, nonprofits, or government organizations cover the cost.”

Some of these programs will not only cover the cost of the audit, but also make energy-saving products and installations available to households at a significantly reduced price or possibly for free, Liberati added.

“Here in Massachusetts, the Mass Save program covered 75% of the cost of my insulation needs.”

2. Insulate your home

Insulation plays a key role in reducing utility bills by retaining heat in the winter and keeping heat out in the summer. If you have the wherewithal to modernize your home, you can save on bills in the long run.

“The level of insulation you should install depends on the square footage of your home,” Liberati said.

“Your attic, walls, floors, basement and crawl space are the five main areas you should consider adding insulation to.”

3. Sign up for Community Solar

If you’ve been waiting for the excuse to start making the switch to renewable energy, Liberati suggests checking out any community solar programs in your area that could help you cut costs for a fraction of the price of installing your own solar panels .

“Community Solar enables anyone with a utility bill to benefit from solar energy and reduce their electricity footprint without installing anything on their property or adjusting their consumption habits.

“It works like this: A large solar farm (those large arrays of solar panels you’ve seen along freeways) feeds electricity into the local grid.”

Homeowners who have projects for which they are eligible can purchase a portion of the electricity generated, usually through a subscription, and receive a discount on their electricity bill.

Liberati added, “Most community solar subscribers save about 10 percent on their annual electricity bill, and there’s typically no signup cost.”

4. Install solar panels on the roof

Reducing your energy use is one thing, but producing your own electricity can lower your costs even more if you have enough funds to commit to the long-term investment.

“Obviously, this one isn’t as easy or affordable as the others, but installing solar power is one of the smartest ways to save,” Liberati said.

“Solar panels generate electricity for over 25 years, and the average solar homeowner can recoup their solar investment in as little as 8-10 years, depending on where they live.

“And thanks to solar loans and the extension of the state solar tax credit included in the IRA Act, solar power is far more accessible than ever.”

Ten ways to reduce your energy consumption

1. Replace your traditional light bulbs with efficient LEDs.
2. Install a programmable thermostat or smart meter.
3. Switch to energy efficient kitchen appliances.
4. Install energy efficient windows and upgrade your air conditioning [heating, ventilation, and air conditioning] System.
5. Wash your clothes in 120°F water instead of 140°F.
6. Perform maintenance checks on your equipment and replace air filters.
7. Eliminate drafts and keep interior doors closed when heating your home.
8. Run your ceiling fans in reverse.
9. Do not leave electronic devices on stand-by overnight.
10. Double-check your bill to make sure you’re paying the correct rates.

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