Tips to save on energy bills this winter

The arrival of colder weather means an increase in energy use for many Minnesotans.

Wednesday, Xcel Energy reported "supply and demand pressures" are contributing to a nationwide increase in the cost of natural gas, which is also used to generate electricity.

Last month, Xcel Energy announced a proposed rate hike of roughly 20% for residential electricity customers.

Additionally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects all major home heating fuels will increase significantly this winter due to higher fuel costs and more consumption. Compared to last winter, those prices could go up by 54% for propane, 43% for heating oil, and 30% for natural gas, depending on where you live and weather conditions.

Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold recommends using appliances wisely as well as scheduling a home energy assessment to see where you can save money in your home.

Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power suggest the following energy-saving tips:

  • Lower your home’s thermostat a few degrees, ideally to 68 degrees or lower.
  • Adjust programmable thermostats to automatically lower the temperature while you and your family members are away or while you’re sleeping.
  • Open curtains and blinds during daylight hours to maximize heat from direct sunlight. To retain heat, keep them closed during nighttime hours.
  • Run ceiling fans in a clockwise direction to push warm air that rises back down.
  • Keep interior doors open to circulate warm air more freely.
  • Clean and maintain your furnace annually, and change your furnace filter monthly for optimal operation.
  • Inexpensive foam strips and caulking can plug air leaks in your home and cut heating and cooling loss by 10%–25%.

CenterPoint Energy also has a list of suggestions to save on energy in the winter months.

KSTP’s complete winter weather guide