Energy
Saving Tips
 
Winter Electricity Bills
Energy Saving Tips
Winter Electricity Bills

A few conscious energy choices can make a big difference in your winter electricity bill.

lower your bill tips

Home winter preparation tips and projects

These simple home improvement tasks can keep your heating system from working harder than it needs to and keep you from spending more than you want to on winter electricity bills.

  • Protect outside faucets. Shut off exterior faucets, and drain water from outdoor pipes to prevent them from bursting.
  • Flush the hot water heater tank. Check the temperature and pressure relief valve to ensure it is working properly.
  • Get a Google Nest programmable thermostat. This can help you save up to 12% on heating costs without lifting a finger.1
  • Weatherstrip exterior doors and windows. With a couple of hours' work, you can seal out the cold and save up to 10% on total energy costs.2
  • Install an electric water heater timer. Prevent your water heater from running when you don’t need it.
  • Get a hot water heater jacket. Older hot water heaters, or those with an R-value less than 24, could benefit from additional insulation to prevent them from losing heat.
  • Install insulation. Better regulate your home’s temperature and reduce heating costs with proper insulation. Assuming your attic already has 3-4 inches of insulation, we recommend using R-38.
  • Get an annual heater tune-up. Make sure your furnace or heat pump is clean and in good working order so that it can run as efficiently as it should.
  • Have your chimney inspected. Be sure to also keep the chimney damper closed when it is not in use.
  • Check your thermostat. Set the thermostat to 68 degrees while you're awake and lower it while you sleep to save energy.3
 
stay warm

Stay warm without spending more

Here are a few things you can do immediately to reduce energy consumption and still stay comfortable. Best of all, they’re free.

  • Layer up. Reach for a sweater or blanket before reaching for the thermostat. Weather-appropriate clothes help reduce the demand for heat.
  • Let the sun in. Open blinds and shades during the day and remove any solar screens so the sun can warm your home.
  • On vs. auto. Ensure the fan on your thermostat is set to “auto,” not “on,” to prevent it from running 24/7.
  • Check your thermostat settings. For every degree above 68, you can expect a 3% to 5% increase in your heating costs.
  • Put your thermostat on vacation mode. Drop your thermostat to 50 degrees if you’ll be gone for a few days or more. This is warm enough to prevent your pipes from freezing, without wasting energy.4
  • Cozy up with an electric blanket. Plug in your blanket instead of turning on the heater and stay warm for around 25 cents a day.5
  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees. This is hot enough to be sanitary while saving you up to $60 a year on your heating bill.6
 
Winter Tips

Common causes of high winter bills

Two of the most common questions we hear during unseasonably cold weather are, “Why is my electricity bill higher?” and “What can I do to lower it?” The short answer is that the colder it is outside, the harder and longer your heater works to maintain the number on the thermostat. Considering heating and cooling costs account for about 42% of your electricity bill, increased heater usage will lead to higher-than-normal winter bills — if energy efficiency measures aren’t taken.7

Let’s take a closer look at the role your heater plays, as well as at a few simple but often overlooked causes of higher winter bills.

longer billing cycles

Longer billing cycles

Billing cycles start and end when your Transmission and Distribution Service Provider (TDSP) reads your meter, which is typically every 28 to 30 days. During the holidays, an additional one to three days may pass before your meter is read, creating longer billing cycles in December and January.

 
Electric vs. natural gas

Electric vs. natural gas

Many people with gas-powered furnaces enjoy lower electricity bills in the winter. But if you have an electric furnace, the colder season can be tough on your wallet. Electric furnaces are generally more expensive to operate than gas furnaces for two reasons: (1) electric furnaces produce less heat in the same amount of time as gas furnaces and (2) electricity typically costs more than gas in the market.

Wondering whether you have an electric or natural gas heater? Ask yourself:

  • Does your home use a fuel source other than electricity, such as gas? Do you pay your electricity bill plus another fuel bill?
  • Are your large appliances, such as your stove or water heater, gas or electric?
  • Does your clothes dryer have a conventional plug and wall outlet, or is the plug bigger than normal? Gas dryers typically have normal-looking plugs, and electric dryers usually have bigger plugs to accommodate larger voltage.
 
Fidgeting with your thermostat

Fidgeting with your thermostat

As ideal as it would be, cranking your thermostat up 10 degrees on a cold winter’s night won’t make your house warm up any faster. Instead, it makes your heater work harder to reach your desired temperature, costing more money.

Additionally, frequently changing the temperature by a few degrees causes the heater to go into a costly and inefficient cycle of starting and stopping.

The solution? Get a programmable thermostat like the ones offered by Google Nest. A programmable thermostat learns your schedule and temperature preferences. It adjusts automatically when you’re away to save energy, and adjusts again before you arrive home so you walk into a warm, cozy house.

 

Account tools and programs to help you save

 
More ways to save

More ways to save
Find out additional things you can do now to help use less energy. Learn more ›

 
Avg Billing

Average Billing
Sign up for Average Billing to smooth out the highs and lows of your electricity bill. With Average Billing, your bill is determined based on the last 12 months of energy usage at your address.8 Get started ›

 
Degrees of Difference

Degrees of Difference
Choose from two free programs that use your thermostat to help you save energy and reward you for doing so. Learn more ›

 
the reliant app

Reliant app
Access your plan details, track usage, pay your bill, and set up automated text and email alerts on the go.9 Find out more ›

WSE

Weekly Summary Email
Get weekly usage comparisons, projected bill estimates and energy-saving tips delivered to your inbox.10 Sign up to receive emails ›

 
account alerts

AccountAlerts
Be automatically alerted via text message when your costs exceed a set amount and/or your daily electricity usage jumps by 25%.11 Sign up for AccountAlerts ›

 
Financial assistance

Payment assistance
Keeping up with bills and due dates can be hard sometimes. We understand, and we want to lighten your load. See assistance options ›

 
Get a Heater Tune-Up

Get a heater tune-up
Make sure your system is working properly and efficiently with a heater tune-up. Plus, enjoy 10% off as a Reliant customer.12 Contact us today ›

 
Virtual in-Home Consultation

Virtual In-Home Consultation
Let our home energy consultants remotely examine several areas of your home and assess its energy use. You'll benefit from some practical, real-time suggestions that can help boost your home's energy efficiency. Call 1-855-887-2190 to schedule your virtual consultation.13

Terms, conditions and other restrictions

1 Based on independent studies by Energy Trust of Oregon and Vectren of actual Google Nest thermostat devices. https://nest.com/downloads/press/documents/energy-savings-white-paper.pdf

2 The U.S. Department of Energy estimates you can save up to 10% on total energy costs (gas and electric) by weatherstripping windows and doors in your home, but your actual savings will depend on how well-sealed your home was in the first place, whether you seal all doors and all windows, and other factors and conditions specific to your home.

3 https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats

4 https://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/take-vacation-your-energy-bill 

5 https://home.howstuffworks.com/question91.htm 

6 https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/services/do-it-yourself-energy-savings-projects/savings-project-lower-water-heating 

7 https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/heat-and-cool/home-heating-systems

8 If there is no previous usage in your name at the service address, or you do not have 11 months of usage at the service address, we will take the previous usage at that service address and apply your current price to calculate your average monthly amount and then subtract or add 1/12 of your deferred balance. The deferred balance amount is the cumulative difference between your monthly Average Billing amount and what you would owe if you were not signed up for Average Billing. The deferred balance amount can be found on your monthly bill. If the bill amount is positive, 1/12 will be added to your bill. If the bill amount is negative, 1/12 will be subtracted from your bill. If you’re a new Average Billing customer, the deferred balance will begin in the second month. Deferred balance must be paid in full if you cancel Average Billing or change electricity providers.

9 Projected bill not available for Pay as you Go customers. Must be a Reliant residential customer with a Texas service address and a smart meter.

10 The billing and usage information provided in the Reliant Weekly Summary Email (WSE) is an estimate and includes only your electricity charges and taxes. Your monthly bill provides your official usage as determined by your local electric utility, as well as the total bill amount due. If you are on an indexed plan, you will not see cost information in your WSE, as prices are determined on the last day of each bill cycle. If you change to an incompatible plan or terminate your service with Reliant, you will no longer receive your WSE. Reliant reserves the right to discontinue the WSE without notice. You may also request to cancel your WSE by calling 1-866-872-6644.

11 Customers must have already opted in to receive alerts via text from the Contact Preferences page on the Account Management dashboard. Available only to customers with a smart meter. Message and data rates may apply. For Terms and Conditions, go to reliant.com/etrm.

12 Current Reliant electricity customers receive 10% off HVAC services offered by Reliant. Discount cannot be combined with promotional repair/replacement offers, applies only to customers in Texas and can be applied to all forms of payment. Reliant may modify or discontinue this program at any time without notice.

HVAC services provided by Reliant Energy Retail Services LLC dba Reliant, a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc. TACLB23923E. Regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation, P.O. Box 12157, Austin, TX 78711, 1-800-803-9202, 512-463-6599.

13 All features of the Home Energy Checkup may not be available to all customers. Some restrictions apply. Limit one consultation per customer each year. Scheduling is based on availability.