Winter energy saving tips
Winter energy saving tips
Winter energy saving tips

Winter energy saving tips

Winter energy saving tips
Winter energy saving tips

Winter energy saving tips

Ways to conserve this winter

Just like during the summertime, a few conscious energy choices can make a big difference in your winter electricity bill. We'll show you easy ways to prepare for dropping temps, so you can stay in control of your usage.

 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 thermostatThis 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.

  • 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. If you have an electric heater, set the thermostat to 68 degrees while you're awake and lower it while you sleep to save energy.3

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.

If you have an electric heater, follow these tips.

  • 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.
  • 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.4

  • If your water heater is electric, set it to 120 degrees. This is hot enough to be sanitary while saving you up to $60 a year on your heating bill.5

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.6

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

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

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

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

Find out additional things you can do now to help use less energy. 

Learn more

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.7

Get started

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

Reliant app

Access your plan details, track usage, pay your bill, and set up automated text and email alerts on the go. 

Find out more

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.8

Weekly Summary Email

Get weekly usage comparisons, projected bill estimates and energy-saving tips delivered to your inbox.9, 10

Sign up to receive emails


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

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
Additional tips to lower your bill

Appliances ›    |    Heating and cooling ›    |    Lighting ›    |    Outdoor ›    |    Sealing and insulation ›    |    Seasonal ›    |    Working from home ›

Winter Bill Tips FAQs


Show all answers

Electric heat is heat produced by an appliance (e.g., an HVAC unit) using electricity instead of some other fuel like natural gas.

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. This is why a person with an electric furnace will likely experience more of a jump in costs during the winter than a person with a gas furnace.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • 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.

If you still aren't sure whether your furnace is gas or electric, ask an HVAC technician.

This is tough to answer because so many variables come into play. Changing the power used to heat your home could be unaffordable or even prohibited in certain communities. If this is something you want to look into further, you should have a professional come to your home to give you guidance specific to your home and neighborhood.

We have several holiday cooking, decorating and general energy tips that can help you save electricity and money.

Try some of the following suggestions:

  • Keep your equipment in good working order by having a professional service it regularly.
  • Wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes to help reduce the demand for heat.
  • Make sure your windows and doors are sealed well. If you can feel air coming through, invest in properly sealing any cracks or gaps.
  • Check your thermostat settings. For every degree above 68 degrees, you can expect a 3-5 percent increase in heating costs.
  • Try an electric heating blanket to stay warm in bed. They cost less than a quarter per night.
  • Never use your oven or stove to heat your home. These appliances consume a large amount of electricity.
  • During the day, put sunlight to work by opening window coverings.

Portable space heaters can save money in some instances. If your central heating system is electric and your space heater is in good working condition with an accurate thermostat, the space heater could be the cheaper option, provided you turn your central heater down and only use one or two space heaters in very isolated areas for short periods of time.1

However, if your central heating system runs on gas, an electric space heater will not reduce your electric bill. It could potentially reduce your total energy costs (gas and electric) if you use the space heater in only a small area and are sure to turn it off when you are not in the room, but you would have to weigh your gas bill against the cost to run the space heater on electricity.

If you do decide to use a space heater, be sure to buy one that is the appropriate size for the space you want to heat. Invest in a model that includes a timer to avoid leaving it on too long, as space heaters are a fire hazard and can consume more energy than anticipated when left unattended.2



The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be inspected once per year.3 The Chimney Safety Institute of America adds that you should sweep your chimney once it contains 1/8" of soot—sooner if your fireplace is glazed—to prevent chimney fires.4 Whether you use your chimney or not, debris may be present due to storms, vegetation, animals, birds and general deterioration, so annual maintenance is necessary.


3National Fire Protection Association

4Chimney Safety Institute of America

A wood-burning fireplace can save money if used instead of your central HVAC. You don't have to use gas or electric energy at all to burn the wood, and you can heat up very large spaces using the fireplace.5 However, if you have a gas fireplace, you will need to do more research into how much gas the fireplace consumes before making any cost savings calculations.6 A gas fireplace could save you on your electricity bill if your central heater is electric, but if your central heater runs on gas, it could be a wash.

No matter which kind of fireplace you have, keep your fireplace efficient and safe with regular maintenance and sweeping.


5U.S. Department of Energy

6U.S. Department of Energy

Yes, reducing the temperature of your water heater can help you lower your electricity bill if your water heater is electric. If your water heater is gas, you may still save money, but the savings would be seen on your gas bill, not your electric bill.

Most homes only need the water heater to be set at 120°F, even though the water heater manufacturer may have the water heater set much higher by default.7


7U.S. Department of Energy

We recommend a heater tune-up at least once per year, in the fall before winter hits. If you call us to perform your Heater Tune-Up, a licensed professional will perform a 12-point service check on your system and recommend any needed repairs.

If you are having trouble paying for your current bill, call 1-866-RELIANT to talk about payment plans and options available to you. We can help.

For help with future bills, try one of these options:

  • Consider different payment options, like average billing. Call 1-866-RELIANT to see if you're eligible. With average billing, your bill is calculated based on the last 12 months of usage at your address, so your bills stay more consistent throughout the year.
  • Dial 211 to learn about additional assistance available in your community.

1 Based on independent studies by Energy Trust of Oregon and Vectren of actual Google Nest thermostat devices.

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.





7 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.

8 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. 

9 Projected bill not available for pre-paid plan 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