Ask Eartha: How can I keep energy bills low this winter?
The leaves are turning and the days are getting shorter. I know the colder weather is coming, so how can I make sure my energy bills don’t skyrocket this winter?
Fall is in the air! Pumpkin spice everything is back on menus and football is on the TV. I, too, find myself spending more time indoors and contemplating turning on the heat at night. Your timing is excellent because this Wednesday is Energy Efficiency Day, and saving energy saves money. Check out these easy ways to be comfy and warm this winter without sending your utility bills through the roof.
Utilize the sun
Although it can seem like the sun barely shines during winter, it’s still putting off heat. If you’ve got curtains or blinds on south- and west-facing windows, keep them open during the day and closed at night. This allows the sunlight to warm your home during the day and reduces the chill from cold windows at night.
Tune-up your heating system
It’s probably been a while since you kicked on your heat, so before you do, make sure the system is clean. Wipe down your baseboard heaters and radiators to remove the dust, dirt and dog hair that built up all summer (or in my case, way longer). Also, remove any furniture, carpeting or drapes that could be blocking the heat to allow it to flow throughout the room. Lastly, consider getting your system serviced if it’s been a while, since proper care prolongs the life and efficiency of your system.
Insulate your water heater and all exposed supply pipes
Insulating your water heater and hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can increase water temperature 2–4 degrees. This allows you to lower your water temperature setting to save energy. It also decreases the wait for hot water when you turn on a faucet, helping to conserve water.
Check your doors and windows to make sure the weather stripping is still creating a tight seal. If not, replace it!
Adjust your thermostat
According to the Department of Energy, heating your home accounts for about 29% of your utility bill. Pop on your slippers and grab your comfiest blanket and try setting your thermostat to 68 degrees during the day to maximize your energy savings. Save up to 10% on your heating bill by programming your thermostat to drop a few more degrees while you’re at work. Want to come home to a warm house? Just make sure you set it to reheat before you get home. Easy enough. If you are leaving on vacation, setting your thermostat to 55 degrees will save energy without having to worry about your pipes freezing.
Cold water laundry
Did you know that 90% of the energy needed to run your washing machine is just for heating the water? Opt for washing clothes in cold water to save energy and money — and consider line drying, too.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that lighting accounts for upwards of 15% of your home’s energy use. Although all lightbulbs have the same purpose, not all bulbs are equally efficient. LEDs reign supreme in that they use significantly less energy than other bulbs. In fact, the average household could save about $225 per year by upgrading to all LED lighting.
There’s a lot to celebrate when it comes to improving energy efficiency — from more money in our wallets and more durable homes to less impact on the planet. So, if these suggestions weren’t simple enough to get you motivated, here’s an even easier way to get started.
This week, join High Country Conservation Center in celebrating Energy Efficiency Day by swapping your outdated lightbulbs to LEDs. From Wednesday, Oct. 5, through Friday, Oct. 7, stop by the center’s office with old incandescent or CFL bulbs and exchange them for matching standard, can or globe-style LED bulbs. Up to 10 bulbs per household will be available while supplies last. The office is located at 737 Ten Mile Drive in Frisco and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The office opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. on Fridays. Want to take your efforts even further? On Wednesday, the center’s home energy expert will be at the ready to answer questions about your home and provide guidance for improvements.
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to email@example.com.
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