When cooler weather finally arrives this fall and winter, it will finally give you a break from the high air conditioning bills that might have wrecked the monthly budget. But colder weather means turning up the heat on our HVAC system, and that, unfortunately, means your electric bill is going to go up all over again.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can hold the line on your energy bills this winter and give you some monetary relief. Take a look at some of the neat money-saving ideas below. You might find you’ve saved more than you expected and may have a little extra left over to spend for Christmas.

Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

You can save a lot of money by switching to a programmable thermostat. After you leave home in the morning, a programmable thermostat will lower the temperature while you’re gone. Then, when you’re on your way home, the house will be warming up to the exact temperature you need. By the time you walk in the door, the house will have reached the exact temperature you wanted.

This also works great when you leave for vacation or go out for an extended period. Some thermostats will even do the job automatically by sensing when someone’s in the room.

Fill Up Your Freezer

You might not realize that filling up your freezer helps the motor out. How? By keeping the excess warm air from coming in every time you open the freezer door. Once that warm air has gone inside, it’s forced to stay there until the freezer cools down. By keeping your freezer fuller, there’s less room for the warm air to sneak in.

The Microwave Advantage

Your regular oven uses a lot more energy than your microwave. So you should be using it as much as possible when you need to reheat regular meals or leftovers..

Microwaves can also help you from a nutritional standpoint. When boiling carrots or broccoli, many of the nutrients go straight down the drain when you discard the leftover water.

You can save even more by picking up a combination microwave/convection oven. Convection ovens use about 20% less energy and, combined with a microwave, can save you even more.

Replace Your Light Bulbs

Winter means you’ll have more lights on than in any other season. If you still have some of those old incandescent bulbs around the house, take advantage of LED or CFL technology and replace them. The energy savings can be as much as 75 to 80 percent and the bulbs will generally pay for themselves in only a few years.

Add Solar Outdoor Lighting

If you like keeping some lights on outside your home at night, consider solar-powered versions. Not only will they save you some cash on your power bill each month, but when the power inevitably goes out during the worst of the winter storms, they’ll still be lighting up your driveway thanks to solar-powered battery charging.

Use Rechargeable Batteries

From your TV remote control to flashlights, cordless phones, wall clocks, and more, there’s a good chance you run through a ton of batteries every year. Battery technology has advanced a lot over the past few years.

Rechargeables work a lot better today than they used to, and they last a lot longer too. Plus, when the batteries die, you won’t be in trouble when you can’t find a fresh set. All you need to do is just stick them in the charger before bedtime and they’ll be fresh as new when you wake up the next day.

Invest in a Spot Infrared Thermometer

A spot infrared thermometer is a godsend for finding where cold air is seeping into your home during the winter. Just aim and point at walls, doors, and windows and you’ll discover places in your home where there are major temperature extremes. That is where you are probably losing cash every month while you heat the rest of the world outside instead of inside your home. Once you find the problem, a little bit of caulk and insulation can do wonders and save you hundreds of dollars on your power bill.

Add More Insulation

Even though adding some insulation can cost a little money, it eventually saves you a lot over time. Have a specialist take a look in your attic and examine the windows, walls, and other areas. Use your new spot infrared thermometer to find the really bad areas.

Adding insulation will help during the summer as well by shrinking your energy bills up to 20% or more.

Tea is great for you

Try drinking some hot tea instead of cranking up the heater when you feel a little chilly. The tea will warm you up a lot faster and let you save energy by keeping your thermostat down. Of course, tea has some other benefits too including helping you with cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It also lowers cholesterol encourages weight loss, helps your mental health, and seems to have antimicrobial qualities as well.

Wear a Sweater

While you’re warming up with the hot tea, you’ll double the effect by adding a t-shirt and sweater. Get in the habit of bundling up each day in layers to help you keep your energy bills lower. Dig through the closet and pull out a couple of those old warm wool sweaters you used to wear each winter. Put one of them on during the day instead of cranking up the thermostat.

To make yourself feel even toastier, wear thick socks, wear a scarf, and even don a turtleneck when it looks like it’ll be chillier than usual outside.

Invest in a Solar Water Heater

More and more families are investing in solar water heaters to save money on their gas or electric bills. They don’t just save you during the winter but during the summer months as well. Many folks report saving between $100 and $200 a year by heating their water using the energy from the sun.

Install Low-Flow Faucets and Shower Heads

The latest low-flow water fixtures work a lot better than the old versions of years past. Finally, you can take a shower with nearly the same pressure as before and save from 25 to 50% or more on your water usage. By saving the water you use, you’ll be saving on your energy use and not only lower your water bills but your heating bills as well.

Please let us know if these ideas on lowering your energy bills this winter have been helpful to you. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about any other ways to make your home more livable that you might like us to cover, be sure to write to us. And, if you live in the Chicago metro area and are interested in learning more about our home cleaning services and how we can help you maintain a safe and healthy living environment, please give us a call. Our number is 708-599-7000. Or, you can contact us online for a free house or office cleaning consultation.