As cooler weather approaches, homeowners are looking for ways to save a little green on their energy bills. Here are 10 tips you can pass along to help curb the costs of their heating and electricity bills during the winter months.
1. Air seal and insulate your home: You can prevent heat from escaping or cold from entering your home – lowering your heating bills – by insulating and air sealing your home. An inspector that is also qualified to perform an energy survey or audit can help identify the areas that need sealing and insulating.
2. Use a programmable thermostat: Install a programmable thermostat that can reduce the heat at a specific time when you are away from home and raise the heat before you get back for dinner. Having the heat at a higher temperature when the home is not occupied by anyone is inefficient, so automatically having it raised and lowered at certain times will save time and money. As a courtesy when inspecting a heating system, make sure to put the thermostat setting back to where the homeowner had it originally set.
3. Install ENERGY STAR doors and windows: Doors and windows are places where cold/warm air can easily come through. Installing energy efficient doors and windows can save energy and money with their higher quality insulation capabilities. Windows can be expensive and should be viewed as one of the last upgrades to the home. If only single pane windows are in place in your home, consider adding storm windows for an added layer of insulation.
4. Use LED holiday lights: Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are at least 75% more efficient and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent lights. By using LED lights, you can be at ease knowing that having the holiday lights on is not significantly increasing your energy costs.
5. Turn off the lights: This will help save money year-round. You can save energy by making sure the lights are turned off whenever a room is not being used. If taking a winter vacation, be sure all lights are off in every room before your extended time away from the home. You can also save on your electric bill by changing all the light bulbs in your house to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or LEDs.
6. Use lighting controls: You can save additional money on your electricity bill by using motion sensor and time controls. Motion sensors turn a light on when motion is sensed and turn a light off after sensing a room is unoccupied. Using a timer for your holiday lights will ensure that you do not forget to turn them off.
7. Lower the water heater: One significant way to reduce energy consumption if you are away on vacation is to simply lower the temperature of the water heater. If you will be gone three or more consecutive days, set the water heater to the lowest or ‘vacation’ setting if there is one. Another thing you can do is add insulation to the water heater and hot water lines. If your water heater is a gas or oil unit, make sure the insulation does not interfere with the exhausting of the by-products.
8. Unplug electronics: When you are away, unplug those kitchen appliances, DVDs, TVs, and computers to save energy and money. These electronics, when plugged in, use up energy even when they are turned off. You may have heard the term “phantom load” or “vampire power”. These terms refer to the electric power consumed by electronic and electrical appliances while they are switched off but plugged into an outlet. This is wasted electricity.
9. Use a power strip: If the idea of running around the home to unplug everything is a bit too much, use power strips to plug in multiple appliances, and then turn it all off with the flip of the power strip switch. It is certainly more convenient to have all your electrical devices plugged into one large strip. Remember, however, that these strips are typically rated for 15 amps and should not be overloaded. Larger appliances such as microwaves, refrigerators, toasters and other appliances with high power loads should be plugged directly into the wall.
10. Adjust the blinds and curtains: Last but not least, another useful way to conserve energy while on vacation or in general during colder months is to lower the blinds and curtains. Close your curtains and shades at night to protect against cold drafts; open them during the day to let in warming sunlight.
Content provided from Energy.Gov and AHIT