How to prevent your heating bill from going up as temperatures go down

Setting the thermostat to a consistent temperature and considering a smart thermostat are among the things residents can do to avoid spikes in their energy bills this winter, according to Virginia-based Dominion Energy.

Peggy Fox, media and community relations manager with Dominion, said setting the thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter could help keep costs low, but “each degree above 68 can significantly increase your heating bill.”

Fox called the step a “no-brainer,” while pointing out that it “may be a little chilly for some people.”

“The colder it is outside, the harder your heating system is working to keep your home warm, which is why power bills are typically higher in the winter,” Fox said. “That’s what we’re concerned about with energy bills.”

Residents could also consider a smart thermostat that lowers overnight temperatures automatically, Fox said. However, it’s important to ensure the thermostat is properly installed and compatible with a home’s HVAC.

As cooler temperatures approach, Fox recommended residents check their homes for drafts.

“It seems simple, but you can lose a lot of that warm air going out the window or through a crack,” Fox said. “Caulk, seal and weather strip around all seams, cracks and openings, especially around those exterior doors and windows.”

Fox also suggested changing air filters every month and when they’re dirty.

“If you’ve got a dirty air filter, your system is going to have to work even harder,” Fox said.

Dominion customers can arrange a virtual home energy audit if they want other ways to save money. And, Fox said, there are several programs in place for families who need help paying their power bill.

One family, Fox said, wasn’t getting heating or air conditioning for four years because their HVAC broke and they couldn’t afford to fix it.

“They qualified for energy share assistance, and we came in and weatherized their home and gave them a new HVAC,” Fox said. “There are assistance programs for that. So, please do not struggle in silence. Reach out. There are programs in every state to help people pay their heating and cooling bills.”

Dominion’s typical residential customer pays an average bill of $133 per month, Fox said.

More tips for saving money this winter are available on Dominion’s website.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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