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Energy saving tips for winter

Each winter, approximately 57 percent of American homes become their own power plants as they burn natural gas for space heating. By taking a few simple steps around your home, you can reduce your energy consumption, improve comfort, and protect the environment.

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Thermostats

The DOE estimates that homeowners can reduce energy usage by up to 9 percent through proper usage of a programmable thermostat. This requires setting back your thermostat 8 to 10 degrees when you are away from home. Unfortunately, only 30 percent of American homes actually have a programmable thermostat installed. Of those homes, a majority of the thermostats have not been installed or programmed properly. The Energy Alliance has a great article on thermostats and the role they play in energy efficiency.

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Air sealing

Reducing the amount of air that leaks into your home is a great way to cut heating costs. Most homes have gaps and penetrations to the outside that when taken together can be the same as leaving a window open all winter. The stack effect allows cold air to enter your home near the foundation and forces warm air out through your attic plane. While insulation can help, sealing these penetrations is the best way to prevent warm air from escaping your home. The DOE and ENERGY STAR both have helpful resources outlining do-it-yourself tips for air sealing.

Fireplaces

Each winter many people look forward to sitting around the fireplace with family and friends. However, when not used properly, fireplaces can contribute to significant heat loss. Lower the temperature on your thermostat when you have a fire to prevent warm air from being pulled out of your home. Make sure that the fireplace damper is closed and sealed tightly when the fireplace is not in use. If you do not use your fireplace, then it is a good idea to have the chimney plugged and sealed.

Lighting

Winter brings with it shorter days and more time spent inside. Installing energy efficient lighting is a great way to reduce electricity consumption. LED bulbs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs while providing the same amount of light. LED prices have dropped significantly over the past several years and there are now a variety of options from which to choose. ENERGY STAR has a great infographic that explains everything you need to know about light bulbs and can help you make smart decisions the next time you venture down the lighting aisle.

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Home Energy Assessment

The best way to determine how your home is using and losing energy is with a home energy assessment. It provides a comprehensive overview of your home and identifies opportunities to reduce energy consumption and improve comfort. The Energy Alliance offers basic and advanced home energy assessments for homeowners. In addition, many private companies are also beginning to offer energy assessments. Make sure whoever you select is certified by the Building Performance Institute or another certifying body to complete energy assessments. If you are feeling adventurous and want to conduct your own assessment, then the DOE has some great guidance on performing do-it-yourself energy assessments.

In addition to these tips, there are a number of other simple things you can do around your home that can help you save even more energy. By reducing the amount of energy you use, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money without sacrificing comfort this winter.

 

 

5 Ways to Beat the Heat

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Summer is here and it’s shaping up to be hot. It’s tempting to crank up the AC, but getting a higher energy bill can be a real strain on the wallet.

Resist the urge to blast the cold air, and try some cost effective cool down tricks. You can easily cut your energy bills without taking a toll on your comfort level within your home.

Beat the heat by following these 5 energy efficiency guidelines:

1. Control Your Appliances

Unplug It: If you’re not using your electronic devices, or lights, be sure to turn them off and unplug them from the wall. Computers, chargers, TVs and other gadgets still suck up electricity – even when they’re not on!

Clean the Coils: Increase your refrigerator temperature above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and clean the condenser coils behind the fridge to reduce some strain on your energy bill.

Switch Out Your Bulbs: By replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, you’re saving energy and cooling down your space. CFL bulbs don’t use as much energy and consequently don’t give off as much heat as traditional light bulbs. The heat from the incandescent is wasted energy, and the CFL bulbs focus all their energy on the light source

To learn more on lighting efficiency, check out Energy Tip: Lighting Matters.

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2. Take Care of Cold Air

Support Your AC: If you do use an air conditioner, give it some care to help it run better. Replace the air filter if it is dirty, and if it’s programmable, schedule the system to warm up a few degrees when no one is home.

For more tips on cold air care, check out some of our past energy tips on programmable thermostats and HVAC tune-ups.

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3. Pull The Shades

Window shades: Not only do curtains, blinds, drapes and shades add an aesthetic quality to your decor, they also help keep the heat out! If you draw the shades during the day, you help to reflect sunlight coming in to your space and heating things up. You can purchase specially insulated drapes just for this purpose (and they’ll help keep the heat in come wintertime!)

For more windows tips, check out Energy Tip: Windows Dressed for Success from our previous newsletter.

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4. Keep Your Cool Air FAN-tasitic

Use fans wisely! During cooler days, and always during summer evenings, open windows and use ceiling fans instead of operating the AC. If the heat is just too unbearable, turn the AC no lower than 75 degrees and run the fans to help circulate the cool air.

Even more tips on how to keep your fan use “balanced” in this months newsletter
Energy Tip: Balance Your Fan Use.

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5. Schedule a Home Energy Assessment

A Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® whole home energy assessment informs you how to improve your home’s energy efficiency and comfort. Contact the Energy Alliance today to get started!

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