STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO REDUCE YOUR HOME ENERGY COSTS
If you are looking for ways you can reduce the energy you use in your home, sometimes small simple fixes can go a long way. Try implementing some of these smart energy conservation tips in your home today!
- Adjust your thermostat. Try reducing your usual daytime temperature by at least one degree lower in winter and one degree higher in summer. For each lowered degree, you’ll save one to three percent on your heating bills. In winter, turn down the thermostat to 60 degrees at night. It’s much healthier, you’ll feel better when you wake up, and you’ll save money. If you go away for a weekend or longer, lower your thermostat to 55 degrees.
- Run bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans less. Exhaust fans pull air out of the house and let in outside air that will need to be heated or cooled depending on the season. Use fans only when necessary.
- Close the damper on your fireplace when not in use. If not, your chimney will draw warm air out of the room and create a draft.
- Close off unused spaces (attic, garage, basement, spare bedrooms, storage areas) or heat only those rooms that you use. If your heating system has vents, close off heating vents in unused rooms. Be mindful of water pipes in rooms that you are closing off to prevent frozen pipes from occurring when temperatures dip below freezing.
- Reverse the switch on ceiling fans so they blow upward toward the ceiling. The reverse air circulation promotes heating efficiency in the winter.
- Reduce your hot water heater temperature to 115-120 degrees.
- Keep blinds and drapes open on sun-exposed windows during the day. Close these same drapes at night to help impede the escape of heat. Do the opposite during the summer.
- Dust and vacuum radiators and baseboard heating vents often. Dust builds up on these surfaces and then reduces the amount of heat that can get into a room.
- Prune branches from trees and bushes that block the sun’s warming rays into your home.
- And don’t forget to check for possible tax breaks or discounts on homeowner insurance policies when you add energy-efficient items to your home, Check with local utility companies for free energy audits. Certain energy saving devices may also be provided and installed free of charge. Lower income households typically qualify for these free products and services.
Investments that lead to greater energy saving
Most of the following products and treatments require a small investment, but can be expected to more than pay for themselves over time in the reduction of consumption and cost.
- Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature to a lower setting in winter and a higher setting in summer when you are not at home. This can lead to significant savings.
- Install caulking and weather-stripping. These items are relatively inexpensive and can save 5% to 30% on heating bills. Check for drafts, cracks and gaps. Some areas where cool air can penetrate include: window frames, around doors, wall or window-mounted air conditioners, attic hatches, baseboards, switch plates, electrical outlets, and foundations.
- Be sure to have adequate insulation in walls, ceilings, attics and basements. Seal and insulate water pipes and warm air ducts in unheated spaces.
- Use space heaters for frequently used rooms. Heaters can start fires, so be sure to keep them at least three feet from combustible items and turn them off before leaving a room or going to sleep. Supervise children and pets when using heaters.
- In areas with colder climates, replace drafty single-pane windows, doors, and skylights with products designed for these climates, such as thermal and storm windows and doors.
- Consider replacing your old furnace with a fuel-efficient model. When selecting a new furnace, look for one that has earned the Energy Star. These burners meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy and use about 10% less energy than a standard burner.
- Have your furnace inspected and tuned annually. The savings in heating costs far exceed the service cost.
- Replace your furnace’s air filter according to manufacturer’s directions and your system will operate more efficiently. Usually, about once every one to three months is adequate.
- Use a “draft stopper” which effectively seals your fireplace from any heat loss, even more so than a closed damper. A draft stopper is an inflatable “pillow” that you insert into the flue. Its design allows for easy removal and reinsertion. A glass front or glass screen will also reduce fireplace heat loss.
- Add a dryer vent seal to your clothes dryer vent opening, where heated air commonly pours out all winter long. Typical sheet metal flappers do not effectively seal against air leakage. A dryer vent seal stays closed unless the dryer is in use.
- Install a low-flow shower head; it will use up to 50% less hot water.
- Cover your water heater with an insulating jacket.