If you get your electricity from National Grid, you may receive an unwelcome “gift” from the utility just in time for the holidays. Last week, National Grid announced that its residential electric rates would climb by more than one-third of the current price beginning in November. National Grid customers can expect to see as much as a 37% increase in their Boston electric bills. According to the utility, that will translate to an average increase of $33 per month for its customers.

So what does that mean for you? Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to electricity, and when you consider all things, electricity just isn’t as efficient as some other fuels. For the 2014-2015 season, making changes that reduce electricity consumption will help you survive the rate increase.

If you have a hot water/boiler heat system, consider retrofitting your system with a new ECM circulator pump. Making this change alone could offset the rate increase for electricity for the entire year! The $100 instant-rebate available through Mass Save makes the cost of the pump comparable to a traditional circulator pump and enables you to start saving immediately.

You can also take advantage of some incentives to replace an inefficient electric water heater with either a qualifying high efficiency tank water heater or a qualifying tankless natural gas water heater.

If you have a natural gas, forced-air furnace, upgrade it to a high-efficiency (AFUE 95%+) model. Reducing your operating costs for a natural gas furnace can also help you offset increased electrical costs for the other appliances in your home.

If you use baseboard heat to supplement your primary heating system, replace these old-school energy hogs with a ductless mini-split heat pump. Electric baseboard heating costs about 2.5 times as much as a heat pump does. They’re also a good solution for addressing chronic cold spots in your home.

If you’re just getting ready to fire up the furnace, have Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating perform annual maintenance on your system now. Cleaning and inspecting critical system components like the heat exchanger can not only increase the operating efficiency of the system, but it can also allow you to head off serious problems that will take your system out of service when you need it most!

If you haven’t already done so, install a programmable thermostat. This type of thermostat can save you money on heating and cooling costs because it never “forgets” to adjust the temperature in your home when you leave. Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating is a certified Nest installer, and you can also take advantage of current rebates on both programmable thermostats and Wi-Fi thermostats.

Weather experts are divided on what kind of winter we’re going to have, but many think that this winter will be a repeat performance of last year. In any case, October is the beginning of the heating season, and there’s no reason to spend more of your hard earned money on heat and electricity than you have to.

For more information about ways to cut your heating and cooling costs, please call us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 for a consultation. We’ll be happy to assess your current equipment and let you know how you can save money this winter.