We’ve had a great winter this year with record setting warm weather. When fuel oil is at these low levels, it is easy to get complacent about saving energy. But chances are, next winter won’t be this easy. Art Nash, our Energy Agent, has written these easy hints on how to reduce your costs and conserve energy.
When do you usually think seriously about how much energy you use, whether it’s for electricity or heat? For most, I imagine it is when it starts getting cold in the fall, but taking a look at energy savings throughout the year will result in a much more efficient home and a smaller expenditure of your energy dollars.
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has some suggestions that will help you with changes that will not just help you in March, but will help to save money year-round.
First of all, turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees. Most people have a 60-gallon hot water cylinder set at 130 degrees or higher, and the water is ready 24 hours a day. Reduce the temperature and consider your hot water use. Do you really need that much water ready all day long? Consider putting your heater on a timer so that while you are sleeping or at work for long stretches of time the unit does not kick on. How about going to an on-demand heater so that you only heat what you need?
About one-fifth of a person’s electrical budget goes to hot water on average. Adding a hot water heater blanket can help to keep heat in the unit instead of heating the room. Getting low-flow faucet heads also helps to reduce the hot water demand.
Use those energy saving settings on your refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. The dryer is a real energy hog, using 220 volts to operate, rather than the standard 120 volts that the other appliances use. Check the age of the unit — the older the appliance, the less efficient it is. Be sure to keep appliances clean. The compressors in the refrigerator tend to get gunked up with dust and other material, requiring more electricity to make them work.
Get rid of those little heaters around the house that happen to put out some light — those incandescent bulbs. Did you know that a regular light bulb uses more than 90 percent of the electricity in the production of heat? Only 10 percent of the electricity goes to produce light. Switching to CFL or LED bulbs will cost more at the beginning, but the bulbs last longer and use less electricity.
Be sure to check today to see when you need to change the filters on your furnace, air conditioner and any type of ground source heat pump. If the filters are dirty, the appliance may use more energy.
Also check the dryer lint filter to make sure it is both cleaned out in the machine, as well as in the vent going out the laundry room wall. All that extra lint absorbs moisture, keeping the clothes from drying. Lint can be a fire hazard. Keep the lint trap clean for efficiency and for safety.
Windows are major heat sinks in your home. Use rope caulk to fill any gaps around the windows.
These may sound like simple steps and they are. If you have the motivation to change one thing a day, your house will soon be tighter and more energy efficient. Make a checklist and knock those items off one at a time. If you have any questions on any of these ideas, feel free to contact me.
Art Nash is the energy specialist for the UAF Cooperative Extension Service. You may reach him at 474-6366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.