Sure, everybody loves to be cozy this time of year, till the sticker shock
of the energy bill sets in. But there ways to cut down the cost. Here
are some tips to help make your energy use more efficient and your bills
INSTALL A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
A programmable thermostat controls the temperature 24/7. Why heat the house
the same all the time? Each degree you lower your thermostat for a period
of at least eight hours -- say, when you're asleep or at work -- can
make your heating bill 1 percent cheaper. Resist the temptation to mess
with the settings when you get chilly, lest you eat into the savings.
Grab a sweater instead.
GET IN THE ZONE
If you are thinking of replacing your system with a new efficient furnace,
also consider a zone system that lets you control different parts of the
house independently. By not heating the portions of your home during low
use times you can save addtional money.
You can save as much as 30 percent on energy bills by covering up drafty
windows and doors and sealing air leaks, according to the Department of
Energy. A rolled-up towel is an easy and cheap way to stop a draft. Add
weatherstripping around doors and window coverings like wood blinds and
curtain can add an insullating element to windows. A more permanent way
to cut down on drafts that enter the house through inefficient doors and
windows is to replace them with new storm doors and windows. The savings
in energy costs will help offset the investment in the long run
MAINTAIN YOUR FURNACE
Just like any other major appliance, a furnace needs regular tune-ups.
Keeping it clean and properly adjusted helps it run efficiently and prolongs
its lifespan. Dirty furnace filters can restrict airflow, making the heating
system work harder, which in turn can boost your bill. Depending on the
filter, they should be replaced every six months to a year. Keeping tabs
on the furnace filter can also reduce medical bills. The more efficient
the filter, the more allergens and debris it will catch and prevent from
circulating in the air. And plan ahead, because you won't be the only
one calling for a technician as the weather turns colder
RUN FANS IN REVERSE
While everyone knows that ceiling fans can help cool your rooms, running
fans in reverse pushes warm air back down into circulation, and could
shave as much as 10 percent off your heating bill? It's as easy as
flipping a switch on the fan, to turn the traditional counterclockwise
rotation that produces a cool breeze to a clockwise rotation that pushes
the warm air back into the rooom.
TURN DOWN THE WATER HEATER
The Simple Dollar points out that the standard setting for a hot water
heater is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can lower energy costs 6 to
10 percent by lowering the temperature to 120 degrees, which is still
plenty warm. Other options, such as a tankless or solar water heater,
can reduce the cost of heating water even more but require an initial
investment of at least several hundred dollars.
USE CAULK AND WEATHERSTRIPPING
Windows and doors aren't the only spots where warm air leaks out of
the house. Keep an eye out for places where two types of building materials
meet -- corners, chimneys, and around pipes and wires. These energy suckers
can be plugged up with caulk and weatherstripping. To test for leaks,
wave a stick of incense around the house and note the areas where the
smoke wafts. You can also have someone walk around the outside of your
home with a hair dryer near trouble areas such as windows. If a lit candle
on the inside flickers or is extinguished, you have a leak.
SEAL THE DUCTS
The Energy Department estimates that most homes have 20-40% leakage from
ducts, wasting energy and costing you money. It is important to use a
certified and reputable professional to evaluate you ductwork, if sealing
is needed make sure they use a quality product. (See our Duct Sealing
page for more information)
Following these tips can add up to big savings over time. So stay warm
and happy – without breaking the bank.