When winter arrives in New England, it means crisp, invigorating air, beautiful snow-laden vistas, and holiday cheer. It also means turning up the heat at home, which usually results in higher utility costs. But will every home be experiencing an equal blow to their budgets? How do your energy costs stack up against those of the people who live around you?
Winter Heating Is Expensive
If you think that your energy costs go up during the winter, you’re right: typical homeowners will incur 48% of their annual home energy costs during the four-month period between November and February. And it’s worse in New England, especially for homes that are heated with natural gas. A shortage of storage and delivery systems means that New Englanders tend to pay a lot more for natural gas than other Americans.
Electricity isn’t cheap either. For homes in New Hampshire, electricity costs around 14.14 cents per kilowatt hour. Massachusetts residents pay even more at 14.54 cents per kwh. The typical rate is even higher in Connecticut, where homeowners shell out 15.55 cents per kwh. Only Rhode Islanders pay a rate that’s closer to the U.S. average: an attractive price of 10.78 cents/kwh.
Factors That Affect Heating Costs
This begs another question: does every home in a given area or on a given block pay similar amounts of money for the heating bills in the winter? Not necessarily. There are a host of factors that can affect winter heating expenses, including:
Home size: Obviously, the larger the home, the more it will usually cost to keep it warm. So the two-bedroom bungalow will probably be paying a lot less for heat than the five-bedroom, four-bathroom colonial at the end of the block.
- Number of people in the household: It’s more than just the increased cost of heating more inhabited rooms. More people take more showers, wash more clothes, cook more meals, and consume more energy during the winter than one- or two-person households.
- Insulation: This is a key component of how energy-efficient a home is. A properly-insulated home keeps Old Man Winter outside where he belongs, while the heater in a home that doesn’t have adequate insulation must work harder to keep the rooms warm — which costs more money.
- Windows: These sheets of glass are the only thing separating the outdoor cold from interior warmth. So if they’re old, single-pane windows, they won’t be protecting the home against the cold as well as modern, energy-efficient windows with low-e glass and double- or triple-pane glass will.
- Prevalence of energy-efficient items: Programmable thermostats can reduce heater use when residents are asleep or not at home. Low-flow showerheads will use up less hot water during showers. These and other measures can have a significant impact on a home’s heating costs.
- Prevalence of energy-efficient habits: Another approach to lowering your heating bill is to take preventive measures, like cleaning out vents, turning down water temperatures on water heaters, and sealing duct work and window openings. Homeowners who don’t take these steps may be paying more money than they have to in order to heat their homes.
What Can You Do?
To find out other ways that you can make your home more efficient during the winter months, you can request a home energy audit. Moonworks offers a comprehensive home energy audit absolutely free. And it can help you discover areas that can be improved so that you won’t have to pay those exorbitantly high heating bills. Give Moonworks a call today at 1-800-975-6666 or fill out our form to see how you can reduce those utility costs this winter.