Trimming energy bills simple for any homeowner
SUMMIT COUNTY – October is national Energy Awareness Month, and rightly so, as temperatures coast-to-coast begin to drop and energy costs are predicted to skyrocket. But saving money on energy bills can be as easy as a trip to the hardware store.Nationally, 76 percent of the average energy bill goes to heating a home or the water in its pipes. In Summit County this winter, cutting dollars off that bulk expense will be difficult, given the rising cost of natural gas. But all hope is not lost. Short of constructing a home with efficiency in mind, there are simple steps homeowners can take to save money.In the last 25 years, advances in the appliance industry have improved efficiency by 67 percent. Steve Getz, energy management director for the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, said that residents would be smart to take advantage of those advances. Replacing old refrigerators with new Energy Star models, Getz said, can be wise despite the initial cost.Getz’s three main priorities of energy efficiency are insulation, heating systems, and windows – in that order.InsulationFilling the walls with insulation nearly always requires a professional, but Getz said the initial cost is moderate compared to monthly savings.”Putting a lid on your saucepan isn’t going to save you $40 a month,” he said. “Blowing wall insulation into a house that’s never had it before is going to save you some big dollars, but you’ve got to spend something up front to get there.”Unlike walls, insulating attics and crawl spaces can be done by any homeowner. Rated numerically (i.e. “R-19”), different sizes of insulation are required in different climates. The website http://www.ornl.gov allow users to determine the strength of insulation they need.Heating SystemsIt is important that a home’s heating system be checked by a professional and its filters cleaned. Insulation is key here too: Insulating water heaters and hot water pipes will preserve energy. When insulating any heat source, however, homeowners must be cautious of fire hazards.WindowsRarely the sole source of high energy bills, replacing windows is not as cost effective as insulation. If you’re lucky, Getz said, you can insulate your entire attic for the price of installing two new windows. If several windows clearly need to be replaced, however, extra panes of glass are the objective. Some companies inject insulating substances other than air into the space between the panes, increasing efficiency (and price) even more.Mike Morris can be reached at (970)-668-3998, ext. 223, or by e-mail at email@example.com.Simple ways to save money on energy bills:- Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees- Insulate your water heater and boiler pipes- Use fluorescent light bulbs- Use cool water to wash clothes- Lower the temperature on your water heater- Install a shower head that limits the amount of water used during showers- Eliminate “phantom loads” by unplugging clocks, timers and televisions- Visit http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/ for more information
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