Keep energy costs low and your house warm this winter
The turkeys are eaten, the presents unwrapped, new year’s kisses kissed and just like that, the holiday season has drawn to a close, but winter’s chill remains. As we head into the long stretch of winter, now is the perfect opportunity to review some easy energy efficiency tips from our Energy Efficiency & Solutions Specialist, Daniel Lofland. Keep warm indoors, and make a real difference in reducing energy costs by reading our nine energy efficiency tips!
1. Take Advantage of Heat from the Sun. That big beautiful glowing ball in the sky casts a ton of heat. Why not open the blinds and curtains in your home and let the sun do its job? When sunlight makes its way into the home, it heats up whatever objects it hits for free! However, please only use this advice in the winter for obvious reasons. We do not need to make our air conditioners work any harder than they already do in the summer.
2. Cover Drafty Windows. Let’s take this further than simply “covering” drafty windows. If you have a drafty window, seal it up rather than just covering it. Unless your cover creates a proper air barrier, drafts still make their way into the home. Caulk window sills where the window meets sheetrock to ensure no outside air makes it into the home.
3. Adjust the Temperature. Adjusting thermostats is the obvious answer for the most savings. Depending on many factors, adjusting temperature can save up to a 4 to 8% per degree decrease in heating or increase in cooling temperature. In effect, it decreases the cost of the heating and cooling portion of your bill. If you have a heat pump, we recommend finding the temperature that best suits you and your family and leaving it there. Making temperature changes on a heat pump can make the system think it needs help to increase the temperature. Heat pumps increase the temperature in the form of auxiliary heating, which means turning on a bunch of blow dryers to help heat the home. As you can imagine, that is not efficient for your energy bills.
4. Find and Seal Leaks. There are specific places to look for leaks in a home, such as plumbing penetrations, window casings and doors. To find more typical in-home leakage areas, sign up for our Home Energy Consultation Program at okcoop.org/hecp/, and our energy auditors will run a test called a “blower door” which highlights any air leaking in the home.
5. Maintain Your Heating. Systems. Scheduling routine service of your heat and air conditioning systems helps ensure they operate as efficiently as possible. We recommend replacing air filters monthly during peak usage seasons such as winter and summer. Those systems depend on airflow, and a clogged filter restricts that airflow. If you are an Amazon user, try the subscribe and save function to schedule air filter deliveries every month, so reminders literally come in the mail!
6. Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplace. While not using your fireplace, make sure the dampener is in the closed position. If the dampener is open and the fireplace is not in use, it is like having a window open in your home.
7. Lower Water Heating Costs. We recommend keeping water heater temperatures at 115 to 120 degrees. This will not only save money but will also prevent scalding. We also recommend installing a water heater timer to save more money. Timers allow control of how often the water heater actually needs to kick on and heat water, think high usage times like mornings and evenings. OEC even offers a rebate of $50 for them!
8. Lower Holiday Lighting Costs. Using LEDs for Christmas lights can save a ton over the less efficient incandescent versions. Putting those lights on a timer can also save money. An incandescent C9 bulb uses seven watts per bulb. Moreover, strands have 25 lights, with a two-strand connection max. If there are 25 bulbs in a strand, we are at 50 bulbs between the two strands or 350 watts. An LED C9 bulb uses 0.10 watts per bulb. For the same number of bulbs, the LED version uses five watts. LED is the winner in this= efficiency competition!
9. Stay Warm with Clothes and Blankets. Some of us heard this a lot during our childhoods. “If you are cold, go grab a blanket!” As much as we may not think highly of that memory, it is sound advice for ways to save in the winter. Lower the thermostat temperature and add a layer of clothes, grab a blanket or BOTH! Those layers add insulation from the cold house and help trap body heat!