Winter is a time of colder weather and longer nights. It’s not uncommon to have a higher energy bill as a result. While a large chunk of this expanded cost may be due to heating (don’t worry, we’ll cover that in another post), lighting also plays a part. With the longer nights, we see a greater dependence on lighting in our homes. All told, lighting accounts for eight percent of total residential and commercial electricity usage in the United States. While this may not seem like a lot, when you consider how simple it is to reduce this part of your monthly spending, and how quickly the savings can add up, it could be worth looking at ways you can save on your lighting costs.
Go to Bed Earlier
Of all the suggestions we’ll make in this article, this one is perhaps the most straightforward. You don’t need lights if you’re asleep, right? When you consider how healthy sleep is for you, this money-saving tip doubles as a health tip.
If you’re getting the recommended eight hours of sleep, that’s eight hours at night you’re not using lights.
About one third of Americans don’t get enough sleep, and — while it also has health consequences, in the winter — this means we’re likely using lights longer than we should. If you’re getting the recommended eight hours of sleep, that’s eight hours at night you’re not using lights. The same logic goes for all electrical devices, which can add even more savings. If you’re struggling to fall asleep (especially if you’re changing your normal sleep schedule), there are many solutions that may work for you!
Use Non-Electric Light Sources
Of course, if you have the option, taking advantage of natural or non-electric lighting can cut your bills significantly. For example, during the daytime, keep the windows open and let in the sunlight. If you don’t need electric lights during the daylight hours, that can remove hours of electrical use off your bill. That may work for the daytime, but what about at night?
If you don’t need electric lights during the daylight hours, that can remove hours of electrical use off your bill.
If you have a fireplace or candles, these can add light (and warmth if you’re using a fireplace) when it’s dark out, again removing the need for electrical lights. Just be sure to monitor both, to prevent a fire from starting in your home. You can also look into light sources like battery-powered candles or lights, that don’t need electricity, to brighten the room.
Use Efficient Light Sources
When it comes to saving money on lighting, one of the best things you can do is seek out efficient lighting — no matter the time of year. During the winter, when you’ll be using more electricity anyway, the efficiency of your bulbs becomes even more beneficial. Generally, the most efficient bulbs commonly available today are LED lights. Not only do these bulbs last longer, but they can also cost significantly less to use. Over the course of the life of a single LED bulb, which is roughly 23 years at three hours per day, you’ll spend about $30 total on energy, or about $1.30 per year. Traditional incandescent bulbs cost roughly six times this amount ($180) over the same time period. Moreover, LED bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.
If you have a single ceiling fixture that takes four bulbs, you’ll be saving more than $26 annually on that fixture alone.
Remember, that info is only for the energy usage of a single bulb. Each other bulb in the house adds up, and so does the savings. If a traditional incandescent bulb costs six times more to run (about $7.83 per year), that means you’ll be paying roughly around $6.52 more per bulb each year. If you have a single ceiling fixture that takes four bulbs, you’ll be saving more than $26 annually on that fixture alone. While this tip is good year-round, the LED bulbs are more efficient overall, so in the winter, they handle the increased energy demand better and maximize your savings compared to other bulbs.
A Note About Festive Decorations
What would the holiday season be without decorations? This time of year is illuminated by shining lights inside and outside the house. With the abundance of lights, it’s easy to see how this would all increase your energy bill during the winter months. You can cut these costs in a few simple ways, however. The first step is to switch to LED Christmas lights, the benefits of which we discussed earlier. You can also plug your lights into a timer that automatically turns them on or off after a certain amount of time or even programable smart lights that you can set to turn on and off or use a smartphone to control.
By finding a power source from a renewable source like the sun, you’re cutting how much energy you use that will be added to your bill!
You may be able to take your outdoor lights a step further by purchasing decorations that utilize solar power. These decorations will come with a small solar panel that you stake into the ground nearby, which then powers the lights. By finding a power source from a renewable source like the sun, you’re cutting how much energy you use that will be added to your bill! Other solutions are to use battery-powered lights or non-electric decorations like candles. Just be careful with any fire hazards by ensuring they’re monitored and in a place where they won’t start a fire. Again, these solutions will limit your use of electricity, lowering your energy bill at the end of the holidays.
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With increased need for lighting during the winter months, it’s no surprise that our bills tend to rise. If you’re like many seniors on a fixed income, any way you can cut bills will help make your life easier. It doesn’t matter if you need the lights for the long winter nights or making the holiday season bright. You can cut your electrical bill substantially if you’re clever and resourceful!