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How to Save Money on Utilities This Winter

fireplaceMy utility bills have been awesome this summer! For the most part, the summer days were mild and required very little work from my air conditioning unit, which translated into incredibly cheap utility bills. This winter, however, is likely to be a different story. In order to keep as much money in my pocket as possible this winter, I need to start taking action to seal up my house as best as I can, both to keep the cold out and the heat in.

This home efficiency stuff is easier said than done though, especially with my 70 year old house that is poorly insulated and has numerous cracked windows. With this old house, what can I possibly do to save money on utilities this winter? Let me share with you the list I came up with so far, and maybe you can benefit from my discoveries as well!

1) Swap Out the Screens with Windows to Create a Double Seal

This might seem like a no-brainer to many of you. Of course I should put up my windows in place of the screens! But, as of last year I didn’t even know that I had these glass windows. When I bought the house, I knew there were some glass sliding windows in the garage that were left behind, but they quickly got covered up with boards and other randoms, and I simply forgot about them. This year, I intend to take out the screens and put up these glass sliders so that I have a double protection from the cold and the wind.

2) Close Off Unused Rooms

I am just one person living in my 3 bedroom, 2 bath home. There are a couple of rooms that simply don’t need to get used in the winter time, and therefore could be left cooler than the rest of the house. For this reason, I am deciding to close off my 3rd bedroom this winter. I typically use this room to watch television, but that happens so rarely that I may as well keep the vents shut and the door closed. In the event that I want to watch a show on Netflix, I can always carry my portable heater in there and warm up the room rather quickly.

3) Burn up Scrap Wood in the Fireplace

Over the course of the summer I have picked up random sticks and downed branches from my yard and placed them neatly on a pile alongside my house. I have also found quite a few leftover 2×4 pieces in my garage that I will likely never use (since my house renovation is complete), so I cut those up and have taken them inside. With this free lumber, I intend to have a couple of fires in my fireplace to help save a little on the heating costs. It won’t do a ton, but I have successfully bumped up the temperature a couple of degrees with fires before. Every little bit helps!

fireplace doors4) Seal the Fireplace When Unused

I never really thought about it before, but my fireplace probably lets out a HUGE amount of heat day after day. Last winter, I just had a simple screen in front of the fireplace opening, which means the only thing separating the inside heat from the outside cold was the flue, which is absolutely NOT airtight. This year, I intend to dig up the fireplace doors that came with the house, spray-paint the bronze doors black, and install them to form a tighter seal around the fireplace opening. This should make a huge difference when it comes to heating the house.

5) Seal the Windows With Plastic

My windows aren’t exactly brand new, and I have been too cheap to replace them while I am in the quest of paying off my home mortgage this year. So, since I am not going to buy new windows, I figured that I should probably make the effort to cover the cracked windows with plastic. This is on my to-do list and I figure that it should make a noticeable difference with both the heating bill and the terrible draft that’s always coming in.

6) Lower the Thermostat and Dress Warm

This solution is one of my favorites because it is super simple. In stead of keeping your home at a balmy 72 degrees during the winter, why not drop that down a couple of degrees? In my house, I keep the temp at 63 degrees. It is a little chilly at times, but as long as I dress warm it is actually fairly comfortable. There are some people that like it to be warm enough in their house to walk around in shorts and a T-shirt. When it’s 20 degrees outside, this method is going to absolutely kill your wallet! Suck it up and put on a sweatshirt and some pants instead. This simple dress change could save you $40 or more each month. For me, it’s totally worth it.

7) Stay Moving to Keep Warm (or use blankets)

One of the more fun ways to create heat is to exercise! Our bodies are a phenomenal heat source, especially when we are active. For 30 minutes a day, plan to work out to an exercise video at home. You will certainly warm yourself up, you will keep off that winter weight, and you might even help heat up the house! I call that a triple win! 🙂 And, if you aren’t a fan of exercise, then I suppose you could replicate this by wrapping yourself up in some blankets. This is not nearly as fun though.

How will you save on your utility bills this winter?

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. We are lucky to live in a very mild-winter Mediterranean climate, but we don’t have any AC or heating at all, so adding and removing layers of clothing is all we have to keep warm / cool. Having said that, it’s a great way to cut down on your utility bills!

    • No heat? How cold does it get at night? I’m a little jealous that you don’t have hundreds of dollars’ worth of heating bills like I do.

  2. All great ideas, the plastic over the windows does help with the old drafty windows. I too have a fireplace that I plan to use more often, especially now that my smoke detectors are functioning again. We close off 1 room also that gets very cold with having 4 windows and a door.
    Before we had kids, we would keep the furnace set at 60 at night and 63 during the day. That’s what sweatshirts are for! Bit now with children, we usually have to keep it around 65.

    “Experts” are predicting an even colder and snowier Michigan winter than last year, so dress warm, and cuddle up with a loved one. Together we will survive this long, miserable, season.

    • My temp is set for 55 at night and 63 while I’m at home (otherwise it remains at 55). If we get more snow this year than last year, maybe I’d better hang onto this truck!! Yikes!

  3. I always close off doors to unused rooms and partially close the vents so less heat goes into these rooms. I also make it a point to go around each window to see if I feel any cold air from around the frame/trim. If I do, I get my caulk and seal any gaps I find.

    • Great point Jon. Quite a bit of heat can escape around each window frame. If the gap is big enough, shoot some foam insulation in there. Otherwise, you’re dead on, get that caulk gun out! Thanks for the comment!

  4. This is less thing to worry about in south Florida. it’s always summer here. No heating cost. Actually winter is about going out and enjoy the nature here.

    • True. I used to live in Boca Raton, FL and the winters were awesome, especially on utility bills! On a somewhat side-note though, I was disappointed that the ocean wasn’t more swimmer friendly. Sure, the water was always pretty warm, but it always seemed like that dang purple flag was out (typically due to jellies/manowar)!

  5. I am fortunate to live in a warm weather city, Phoenix, where the winters are mild for the most part. It’s the summers that cause my electric bill to soar! I keep the thermostat set at 68 in the winter and that help to keep the gas bill low.

    • 68 degrees sounds amazing! I have my thermostat set at 63 when I’m home and 55 when I’m not! It’s a little brisk, but it actually isn’t terrible considering it is often 20 degrees or below outside!

  6. My old house had the worst windows ever. If you sat near one you could actually feel a breeze coming in. I couldn’t afford to replace them so I covered them with plastic every winter to help keep the cold out and it was a big help.

    • Sounds like we have the same house, Mike. I’ll be looking to seal the outer portions of my window frames and covering them with plastic as well. Hopefully that will keep the wind gusts out of my house!

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