Winter is prime time in Minnesota for rising energy costs. Between the shorter, darker days and the longer, colder nights, Twin Cities residents often find their energy use—and utility bills—skyrocketing during the chillier months. Fortunately, there are small tweaks you can make to your existing electrical system and energy usage habits that can help mitigate winter electricity use and keep your bills in a more reasonable range. What can you do to create a more energy-efficient home? The experts at Harrison Electric explain below.


Unplug Appliances and Electronics

Take a moment to think about how many appliances and electronic devices you have plugged in around your home—quite a few, right? Have you ever stopped to think about how much energy these items consume even when they’re not in use?

Phantom power, the energy used by electrical devices when they’re not operating but still plugged in, accounts for approximately 10% of your home’s annual energy usage. If you’re really looking to cut down your winter utility costs (and summer, spring, and fall costs, for that matter), unplugging your devices and small appliances when they’re not in use, can go a long way. If unplugging every unused device around your house is too tedious, try unplugging only these ones with the greatest phantom power draws:

●        Televisions: 48.5 W

●        Blu-Ray or DVD players: 10.6 W

●        Video game consoles: 63.7 W

●        DVR devices and satellite TV boxes: 33-43.5 W

●        Cable boxes: 30 W

●        Laptops (plugged in but not charging): 50 W

For a full picture of your home’s energy waste, you can purchase an energy monitor that details each device’s phantom energy use. Once you know precisely where the most significant power leakage occurs, you can adjust your outlet usage accordingly.


Upgrade Light Bulbs and Outdated Wiring

If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, winter is the perfect time to upgrade your outdated lighting to energy-efficient LEDs. During the short winter days, you no doubt use your lights more frequently, so the more efficient your bulbs are, the lower your monthly energy bill will be. If you have special fixtures in your home, consult with a residential electrician for the best light bulb options for your unique situation.

Winter is also the perfect time to update wiring that is no longer up to code. During winter, when energy usage is typically higher than the remainder of the year, significant energy leakage can occur if your home has outdated or damage wiring. When you continually draw on an electrical system that conducts wattage inefficiently, you end up paying for electricity that you cannot use. If you’ve recently noticed rising utility costs and believe they may be due to energy leakage, a residential electrician can conduct an energy audit of your home and locate areas in need of repair or upgrades.


Install A Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats are a fantastic way to cut down on winter heating costs because they function to keep your home comfortable without wasting heat. You can program the thermostat to maintain a pre-set occupancy temperature while you’re at home, and while you’re away, you can lower the setting to reflect your vacancy.

Programming interior temperature settings according to your home’s occupancy status helps ensure you don’t waste precious energy heating an empty home. You might be surprised to learn how much money you can save simply by reducing your energy usage while you’re away at work or running errands.

Keep in mind: Each heating system’s efficiency fluctuates according to changes in its temperature setting, so be sure to consult with your HVAC professional regarding your system’s optimal settings. Some systems function more efficiently with minimal temperature adjustments, while others can handle more dramatic variations in settings without compromising on efficiency. You’ll need to contact a residential electrician to wire the new thermostat into your home’s existing electrical system.

Harrison Electric: Your Full-Service Electrical Contractor

At Harrison Electric, we know winter electrical costs in the Twin Cities can be exorbitant. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing you with cost-saving electrical upgrades to help you keep your bills in check. Our full-service team of highly qualified residential electricians specializes in updating electrical panel wiring, rewiring and upgrades, and much more. When you need high-efficiency energy upgrades, we’re the team to call. To learn more about how we can improve your home’s energy efficiency or to schedule your service appointment, contact our team at 763-544-3300, or feel free to message us on our contact page.