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Last week I got my gas and electric bills only to be surprised that the utility companies owed me money in the form of a credit on my account.  I set up my bank’s bill pay system to pay all of my bills so I didn’t really notice that I was overpaying until I logged into the account.

Well, to my surprise my bill went down.  Way down.  Keep in mind at any given time over the last 2 months there have been at least 4-6 people in my home.  This includes house guests in addition to my husband and I.  I’m used to bills that hover around $350 for gas and $200 for electric which used to drive me batty.  Who wants to pay that much to a utility company?  I don’t!

Here are a few tips that helped reign in those electric and gas bills.

Keeping the Temperature Low

Here in the DC area we recently had a dip in temperatures and normally anything below 70 degrees prompts me to turn the heat on.  This time I didn’t and instead invested in a few plush Sherpa blankets which keeps me warm and toasty at night.  My massage therapist gave me a tip – get a tempur-pedic mattress top plus a Sherpa blanket (heated is optional) and you’ll stay warmer (and cozier) at night.  I did just that and she was right!  Normally, on any day of the year I am walking around my home in shorts and a tank top and while that hasn’t changed, I’m warmer at night.  Before I would keep the thermostat at 80 degrees even though it meant my heating bill would soar.  Never again.

Cook All Meals On Sunday Night + Invest In A Toaster Oven

Our regular oven exploded over the summer which left the glass on door shattered and rendered the oven dangerous to use until we got it fixed.  In the mean time while we waited on the estimate and parts to get here we got one of those super toaster ovens.  You now the ones that broil, bake and toast bread on the counter top?  Yep, one of those babies.  It turns out that instead of using our regular gas oven to bake and broil everything, this smaller toaster oven uses less energy to prepare our food.  So now, I cook all meals on Sunday night within 3 hours instead of slaving over the pot on my stove for 1-2 hours each night.  Saves me time and money!  We like that!

Get Everyone On Your Energy Bill Page

We turn off lights and plug out appliances when not in use.  I have not an extra red cent to give to the utility company (sorry Pepco!) so I tell people to turn off lights or I will gladly go behind them to do so. Energy saving bulbs, power strips and the whole nine!  If it saves me money on the bill then I am on it!

Seal All Windows and Doors (Door Draft Stoppers or Bubble Wrap)

We haven’t done this yet this season but this has proven to be a great way to save on energy costs during the winter months.  Our door has a serious draft which causes the main level to get really cold.  I’ve already sealed the windows downstairs and just need to get one of those door draft stoppers to put under the front door and that should help with the draft.  Since heat rises, the 2nd floor is pretty warm, even toasty at night.

Get On Budget Billing

Ahmad from Victory By Design recommended we do this way back over the summer but I only completed this task last week.  Mainly because I hate owing the the utility company after the cycle is over.  Right now the real bill is actually lower than my budget bill but I know that will change in a few months when temperatures get frigid and the thermostat and I start bargaining again.  But this will help when the real bill gets higher (not too high!) and they will just put the extra towards the overall amount owed next year on the budget bill anniversary.  Getting on budget billing allows me to pay a set amount every month while figuring out different ways to lower costs.  Gas is by far more expensive where we are and I am just figuring this out.  The less we use it (stove and heating our home) the more we save!

What do your winter bills look like and how do you plan on taming them this winter?

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