Tuesday, October 31 2017 13:21

Fast And Free Tips For Reducing Energy Bills This Winter

With temperatures getting cooler outside, there are many easy steps you can take this winter to reduce the amount of energy that you're using and lower your utility bill.  Here are some suggestions you can do at home at absolutely no cost to you!

Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you'll save up to 5 percent on heating costs.

Wear warm clothing like a sweater and socks and set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the day and evening, health permitting. Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees or off at night or when leaving home for an extended time, saving 5-20 percent of your heating costs (heat pumps should only be set back 2 degrees to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heating).

Reduce hot water temperature. Set your water heater to the "normal" setting or 120-degrees Fahrenheit, unless the owner's manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Savings are 7-11 percent of water heating costs.

Let the sunshine in. If windows face the south, open drapes and let the sun heat your home for free (get them closed again at sundown so they help insulate).

Rearrange your rooms. Move your furniture around so you are sitting near interior walls - exterior walls and older windows are likely to be drafty. Don't sit in the draft.

Keep it shut. Traditional fireplaces are an energy loser - it's best not to use them because they pull heated air out of the house and up the chimney. When not in use, make absolutely sure the damper is closed. Before closing the damper, make sure that you don't have any smoldering embers. If you decide not to use a fireplace, then block off the chimney with a piece of rigid insulation from the hardware store that fits snugly into the space (dampers don't shut fully without some leaking).

Eliminate wasted energy. Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Unplug that spare refrigerator in the garage if you don't truly need it - this seemingly convenient way to keep extra drinks cold adds 10-25 percent to your electric bill. Turn off kitchen and bath-ventilating fans after they've done their job - these fans can blow out a house-full of heated air if inadvertently left on. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning to prevent up to 8 percent of your furnace-heated air from going up the chimney.

Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. That includes overhead doors on attached garages.

Seal off unused rooms (as long as the room is less than 100 square feet and isn't the room where the thermostat is located). Close the floor or wall registers and return air vents, and keep the doors closed.

Shorten showers. Simply reducing that lingering time by a few minutes can save hundreds of gallons of hot water per month for a family of four. Showers account for 2/3 of your water heating costs. Cutting your showers in half will reduce your water heating costs by 33 percent.

Use appliances efficiently. Do only full loads when using your dishwasher and clothes washer. Use the cold water setting on your clothes washer when you can. Using cold water reduces your washer's energy use by 75 percent. Be sure to clean your clothes dryer's lint filter after each use. Use the moisture-sensing automatic drying setting on your dryer if you have one.

Put your computer and monitor to sleep. Most computers come with the power management features turned off. On computers using Windows, open your power management software and set it so your computer goes to sleep if you're away from your machine for 5 to 15 minutes. Those who use Macintosh computers look for the setting in your Control Panels called "Energy Saver" and set it accordingly.  When you're done using your computer, turn it off (see next tip). Do not leave it in sleep mode overnight as it is still drawing a small amount of power.

Plug "leaking energy" in electronics. Many new TVs, VCRs, chargers, computer peripherals and other electronics use electricity even when they are switched "off." Although these "standby losses" are only a few watts each, they add up to more than 50 watts in a typical home that is consumed all the time.  If possible, unplug electronic devices and chargers that have a block-shaped transformer on the plug when they are not in use. For computer scanners, printers and other devices that are plugged into a power strip, simply switch off the power strip after shutting down your computer. The best way to minimize these losses of electricity is to purchase ENERGY STAR® products.

Also contact your utility provider or visit their website for possible ideas, rebates and incentives.

Special Tips For Holiday Lighting

  • Dispose of older incandescent lights and buy new LED holiday lights. Older strings of incandescent holiday lights can use up to 99 percent more energy than new LED light strings. Plus, the wire insulation on older lights can erode and pose a fire hazard.
  • Turn on your holiday lights for no more than 6 hours per day (to keep energy use down). Purchase a lighting timer to turn lights on and off automatically.
  • Always unplug holiday lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Don't overload your circuits. Check your fuse box or circuit breaker panel to see how much load you can add to your house, stay within these limits to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Take lights down promptly after the holidays.
Last modified on Tuesday, November 14 2017 13:49