How to Save on Your Winter Energy Bills

Especially in climates that have weeks of chilly temperatures, like the one we have here in Bend, Oregon, it can be a challenge to keep homes cozy without breaking the bank. But the good news is that it’s not impossible! Here are several tips to help.

HVAC ACTION!

  1. Set your thermostat set to 68°

According to the California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center, “for every degree you lower your heat in the 60° to 70° range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs.”

Put on a sweater or sweatshirt to keep yourself at a comfortable temperature if 68° is too cool for you.

  1. Lower thermostat during workdays/at night

If you leave your home for eight hours during the day, consider lowering the thermostat two more degrees. Also lower it in the evening just before you go to bed. You don’t want to lower it too far, as it will take more energy to bring your home back up to 68° from 55° than from 64°.

  1. Lower thermostat to 55° if you go on vacation

If you leave home for any extended length of time – for anything from three days or longer – consider lowering the heat to 55°.

  1. Maintain your HVAC system during the winter

Check your owner’s manual to ascertain when you need to change the furnace filter. Usually this should be done once a month.

WATER HEATER HELP

Your hot water does not need to be scalding hot. By setting your water heater to 120° at most (typically the “normal” setting on your water heater) you’ll be able to save from 7 to 11% if water heating costs. (Do check the manual for your dishwasher to see if the hot water needs to be set at higher than 120°.)

NATURAL HEAT

During the day, take advantage of the heat of the sun by keeping your drapes open – on those windows that face the south. Once the sun starts to set, simply close the drapes to help keep the heat inside.

FIREPLACE FREEDOM

  1. Keep dampers closed when not in use

If you have a gas-powered fireplace, you need do nothing but regular maintenance. However, if you have a traditional fireplace, in which you burn wood – burn only the highest quality wood, and once the fire is completely out, make sure the damper is completely closed. If you leave the damper open, you could lose up to 8% of your heat through the fireplace!

  1. Install a heat-air exchange system

Over 90% of the heat generated by a traditional fireplace vanishes up the chimney. By installing a heat-air exchange system (tempered glass doors in front of the fireplace, and specially designed grating), most of the warm air will be directed into your living room – or wherever your fireplace is located.

WEATHER STRIPPING

Your home may be new, but opening and closing windows and doors can cause wear and tear on tbe tiniest parts – the weather stripping and the seals. So don’t forget to check the weather stripping around your doors and the seals of your windows to ensure that there are no gaps where cool air can find entry and create unpleasant drafts.

HOLIDAY LIGHTING

What is winter without the anticipation of the holiday season, starting as early as Thanksgiving and going straight into the New Year.

Technology has improved with regard to the light strings with which you decorate a Christmas tree or the exterior edges of your home. LED lights take much less energy than traditional lights.

GENERAL ENERGY SAVING TIPS

These are tips that should be followed year round, and not just during the winter time.

  1. Use natural light when possible

If it’s the middle of the day, open up your drapes and let the sun into the room, rather than having lights turned on.

  1. Turn off lights when you leave a room

This is not just a tip for winter, but for all year round. When you leave a room – make a habit of turning off the lights!

  1. Wash only full loads

Whether we’re talking about dish washing or clothes washing, it only makes sense to wash only full loads. If you need just a small load of clothing washed, remember to adjust the water setting on the washer!

  1. Clean lint traps

Refrigerator filters and HVAC filters need to be changed regularly. Make sure you also clean the lint trap of your drier on a regular basis! Use a slightly damp paper towel to do this if necessary, to prevent lint particles from escaping into the air.

References

Consumer Energy Center, California Energy Commission

http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/tips/winter.html

Energy Saver, Energy.gov

http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips

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