saving money in winter

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COLUMBIA – There are plenty of ways to save money while keeping out the cold during winter. Electricity bills tend to go up while people try to stay warm, but saving money can be as easy as throwing on a sweater to wear around the house or keeping the blinds open.

Wearing a sweater allows you to turn the thermostat down a little while still staying warm. Opening the blinds lets the sun in, which is a free way to warm a room a little.

"The sun is our friend, so that solar gain we get through our windows and in our house actually reduces our heating cost," Terry Freeman, Residential Services Supervisor with Columbia Water and Light said. Remember to close the blinds when night falls, though.

Keeping warm air inside the house is the main way to save money. Freeman recommends residents check every window to make sure it is completely shut so no cold air moves in and no warm air leaves.

"You might have opened them up during the summer to get some fresh air and closed it," Freeman said.

"But you didn't really look at it that close and it's not completely closed and not locked, so you go through the entire winter and have your window open and not even know it."

If closing windows isn't enough, temporarily sealing them with caulk or plastic sheets is also an option.

"Just seal any crack or crevice you can," Westlake Ace Hardware General Manager Rex Neil said.

"Whether it's a pipe coming through the wall or up through the floor and especially around windows or doors."

Another tip: open cupboards when you're out of the house. Keeping cupboard doors open will let heat get to the pipes in the walls faster, so the thermostat can be turned down a bit without worrying about the pipes getting too cold. 

Unhook hoses and water spigots outside to keep them from freezing.

Personal heaters aren't really the way to go. They can warm up the area, but overall Freeman says they are not as efficient as the main heater and the extra energy will go straight to the electric bill. If you want to pull out the space heater, turn down the thermostat so it balances out.

Columbia Water and Light offers free energy audits, if residents want to make sure they are being as efficient as possible. Three experts will show up to a house to inspect equipment and make recommendations.  

The cold weather is here, but there is still time to make your house heat efficient.

"This is really a good time to go ahead and be proactive and start thinking about changing your lifestyle a little bit and making a few changes to save yourself some money,” Freeman said.