What makes up your energy bill and how to get a handle on heating your home

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s far from winter, but we’ve had some pretty chilly days already.

Colder days are ahead and there’s no better time than now to plan for an increase in your energy bill.

Instead of getting surprised when your November bill comes around, Avista wants to help its customers prepare for it now.

This time of year, your heater is working extra hard to keep your place warm and can account for more than half your bill, about 40-60%.

Your water heating also uses up a lot of energy and makes up about 14% of your bill.

Everything else is made up of lighting (12%), appliances (13%), electronics (4%) and other things like external power adapters, set-up boxes, ceiling fans, vent fans, home audio, etc. (11%).

According to Avista, the energy bill for a typical U.S. single family home averages $2,200 per year.

By making little adjustments here and there, you can reduce your energy consumption and increase your savings.

RELATED: Tips to keep your heating bill low this winter

But it can be easier said than done.

During the colder months, the rule of thumb is to keep your thermostat set at 68 degrees and bring it down by a few to save energy at night or when you’re away from home.

But when it comes to apartments, for example, some complexes don’t give you the option to set your thermostat at a specific number.

“A lot of our more vulnerable customers heat with electric resistance baseboards and that’s kind of the most expensive way to heat a home,” said Avista Energy Efficiency Engineer Carlos Limon. “When that happens, typically in apartments or multi-family housing, we recommend that they try to practice zone heating. So that’s only heating the rooms that they occupy and lowering the temperature and closing the doors of unused rooms.”

Whether you’re in a home or an apartment, you can do some things to keep the cold air out.

Insulate your windows by caulking or applying weather strips.

You can even place a blanket beneath your door if the door sweep is stripped and you need to stop a draft.

If you have a fireplace, close the dampers when you’re not using it.

On sunny days, even opening the blinds and curtains can let the natural warmth of sunlight in. Just don’t forget to close them at night.

There are so many little things you can do to save in each category — but try picking just a few things to start and sticking to them.

See how it affects your bill from one month to the next.

If you still need help making payments, Avista partners with community action agencies to provide bill assistance.

Just call 800-227-9187 for customer assistance.

You could qualify for comfort level billing, preferred due dates, payment arrangements, energy assistance grants and much more.

See Avista’s website for more info.

RELATED: Your heating bills could go up this winter: Here’s what to expect.