Ready For Cold Weather? Steps To Save Money, Save Energy, And Stay Warm
By Mo Shriner
As Minnesota’s weather turns cold, homeowners and renters can take steps now to save money, save energy and stay warm. The Minnesota Department of Commerce offers resources through the Energy Information Office and energy programs, including:
Guides For Home Weatherization And Energy Efficiency
Wrap your home in warmth. Whether you rent or own your home, there are easy steps to weatherize and make your home more energy efficient.
Do It Yourself: Among the low-cost, simple steps for saving energy you could do:
- Add plastic film over windows. Plastic window film kits are inexpensive. You’ll need a hair dryer to install. It helps reduce cold leaking in from drafty windows.
- Insulate light switches or wall outlets, which may have cold air drafts, with inexpensive foam gaskets. You’ll need a screwdriver to remove the light switch or wall outlet plate. Place the foam gasket inside and replace the plate.
Control your home’s heat:
- If your home has a digital thermostat, program the temperature to be lower during times you are out of the home or sleeping. If you don’t have a digital thermostat, consider investing in an easy-to-install one. A programmable thermostat can save you up to 10% on your heating bill.
- Experiment with opening or closing heat registers in your home to control how much warm air comes into the room. Those vents, located on floors or walls, can be opened or closed all or part of the way to control temperatures. For example, close vents in rooms that may get too hot, such as upper floor rooms. Make sure vents are not blocked by furniture or heavy window curtains, which restricts the flow of air in a room.
- Replace your furnace filter at least every six months, or more often depending on the filter. When the filter is dirty or clogged, your furnace works less efficiently.
The easiest way to save energy is to turn things off. When you’re not using them, shut off TVs, gaming devices, lights and other things that use electricity.
More Options For Home Efficiency
To help you decide what in your home needs fixing, upgrading or replacement, get a home energy assessment, or home energy audit. Contact your utility company or search for licensed home energy audit services. The cost is typically $50 per household; for income-eligible households, there is no charge. Renters can also schedule a home energy audit as long as you have the property owner or manager’s permission.
Energy Affordability Programs:
Do you – or someone you know, a family member, friend, neighbor, or community member – struggle to pay heating bills? You may qualify for two programs to make energy more affordable for Minnesotans.
Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program helps renters and homeowners pay their energy bills. The application process is quick and easy, with income-eligible households receiving an average of $500. Go to https://mn.gov/commerce/energy/consumer-assistance/energy-assistance-program/ for more information.
How do you apply?
Request an application or find your local service provider with one of these options:
- Go online: mn.gov/home
- Call 800-657-3710 and press 1
- Who qualifies?Homeowners and renters can qualify for energy assistance. More information at https://rb.gy/rs4p9
- By applying for Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program, homeowners and renters may also qualify for Minnesota’s Weatherization Assistance Programand receive free home improvements to help save you energy and ensure your home is a warm, healthy, and safer place to live. More information at https://rb.gy/rs4p9
- Cold Weather Rule Protection:Under Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule, residential utility customers can avoid having your electric or natural gas service shut off between October 1 and April 30 – as long as you contact your utility company to set a payment plan and then keep up with those payments. See the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission info on shutoff protection at https://mn.gov/puc/consumers/shut-off-protection/
Find more resources at mn.gov/commerce/energy.