Optimize your cooking.
“Strike while the iron’s hot,” says Ron Shimek, the president of Mr. Appliance, part of a community of home-service experts called Neighborly. “Look at your recipes to figure out which dishes you can bake together or one after the other. That way, the oven is already preheated.” When you’re done cooking, crack open the oven to help warm up your space. If you’re only making or heating a small amount, consider using a toaster oven, multicooker, or microwave instead.
Embrace the ugly sweater.
When it comes to staying cozy, turn down your heater when guests arrive (having more people in your space will quickly raise the temperature) or when the oven’s on to lower your bill without letting in the chill. And remember: You don’t have to heat the whole house to heat yourself. Put on a thick sweater and add warm layers to beds, including heated blankets.
Set your home to vacation mode.
Before leaving home for your winter travels, unplug electronics that draw vampire energy (especially the TV and cable box), set your water heater to low or vacation mode, turn off as many appliances as possible, and lower your thermostat to 55 degrees. It’s a myth that your furnace will need to work harder to warm the home up to a comfortable temperature again when you return, and thus result in little energy savings. The truth is that your home remains closer to the outdoor temperature, the more you’ll save.
Smart Tip: Plug in an LED light to a smart outlet and program it to come on at sunset and turn off at bedtime to make it look like you’re home without having to leave a light on 24/7.