How to save energy in winter

What's the first thing people do when they wake up and it's freezing outside? They run their heater. They make coffee. They take a warm shower. They do what they can to wake up and stay warm, which can cause prices to spike during cold mornings in the winter.

When this happens it's good to remember how rare these occurrences are: prices spike over 6¢/kWh only 3.9% of the time.

It's also good to know prices spike during the same time in the winter, usually around 7-11 a.m. Here are some tips on what you can do around the house during price spikes. You’ll save money and learn how to take advantage of the wholesale market.

Tips to save on electricity in the winter

First, figure out if you have an electric or gas heater. For people with gas heaters, most of these tips won't apply to you – which also means you won't have to worry about running your heat.

  • Pre-warm your house by running your heater before prices spike and then turning off your heater for a few hours during the price spike. This can save up to $126 over just 3 hours.
  • Don't forget to run your heater to keep your pipes from freezing and having severe water damage.
  • Set up a smart thermostat! This can help you save up to 12% on heating costs without lifting a finger after set up!
  • When it’s cold, lower your AC/heater by 4° to use up to 15% less.
  • Switch your ceiling fans to rotate clockwise during the winter. This helps push that warmth right back down to you.
  • Concentrate heat to only the rooms you use. Use portable space heaters in the most used areas like the living room and bedrooms to keep overall heating costs down throughout the price spikes. But just now space heaters are generally less efficient than whole-home heating systems. Wide-use throughout your home can result in higher electricity bills and can pose a fire hazard. So use caution and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Avoid using your exhaust fans. Your bathroom fans and oven hoods are often-overlooked sources of heat loss in the winter. Use your exhaust fans sparingly, and turn them off when not in use to ensure your home’s warmth isn’t being pulled away.
  • You can save 5% on for every degree you drop your thermostat between 60-70 degrees, so slip on some fuzzy socks and matching PJs to let your clothes do the warming.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water to cut your washer’s energy usage in half.
  • Charge devices such as cell phones and cordless tools when electricity prices are low. Unplug the charger from the outlet when not in use.
  • Unplug any unused devices. "Always-on" electricity use by inactive devices represents on average nearly 23 percent of household electricity usage.
  • If you have a ventless propane heater use it in place of your electric heater
  • Change furnace filters. If you have a forced-air heating system, replace or clean your furnace filters once a month. This is an easy and affordable way to extend the lifetime of your furnace while keeping energy costs low. When filters are clogged with dirt, the furnace must work harder to emit warm air. A new and clean filter can help your furnace operate more efficiently.
  • If your backup generator runs on diesel be sure to add a supplement. Diesel turns to sludge in the cold and the generators don't work on sludge, but there are additives that prevent it from turning to gel. More info here.

Shift Usage

Shifting usage to non-peak times can help lower your bill considerably. Below is a chart on how much appliances cost at certain price points (these prices are for energy-only): at normal prices (2¢), high prices (30¢) and extremely high prices ($1). 

Rates and Hourly Price are based on energy-only prices and do not include TDU charges.

See how much other appliance cost here: Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use.

Use Griddy’s Tools

Using Griddy’s app to track energy prices will help reduce energy usage during price spikes. 

  • Download the Griddy app: iOS or Android
  • Opt in for push notifications to know when prices jump. In your app, go to Account > Settings > Notifications to turn them on.
  • On the Wholesale Price screen, check out the projected prices for the day to know what to expect. The circle turns red when prices are expected to be high. These are the times to avoid using high-energy items if you can.
  • Set up home automation. If you have a smart thermostat or any other smart home devices, you can have them automatically adjust when prices go high.

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