Archive for Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Five Questions: Energy-saving tips

It may soon look something like this outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save money inside. Below, Energy.gov offers some tips to reduce energy costs this winter.

It may soon look something like this outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save money inside. Below, Energy.gov offers some tips to reduce energy costs this winter.

November 6, 2013, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: 12:00 a.m.

With colder weather settling in and winter approaching, it’s a good time to think about ways to save money while still staying warm inside. In this week’s Five Questions, Energy.gov offers some cost-effective, energy-saving tips.

Q: What are some ways I can conserve energy this fall and winter?

A: Installing and setting a programmable thermostat can save an estimated 10 percent in energy costs per year. For even larger savings, have an energy audit of your home conducted. Professional energy assessors will give you a thorough picture of where your home is losing energy and what you can do to save money. By making upgrades (especially sealing air leaks and properly insulating your home), you can expect to save 15-30 percent or more in energy costs, while also improving your home’s comfort and air quality.

Q: All of this sounds pricey. Are there any less expensive tips?

A: About 10 percent of the energy your home uses goes to lighting costs. So replacing 15 traditional bulbs with energy-saving bulbs, available inexpensively at many major retailers, will save you $50 a year — and more than $600 in energy costs over the life of the bulbs. Additionally, since many electronic devices and equipment continue to consume unnecessary energy even when not in use, plug all your electronic devices into a power strip that can be switched off when the devices aren’t in use.

Q: How can windows be used to my advantage?

A: During winter months, you can take advantage of sunlight by opening your curtains during the day to allow the sun to naturally heat your home. Using natural lighting effectively will also reduce the need to use artificial light in your home.

Q: What about my water heater levels? Any savings there?

A: Water heating is a large energy expense in your home, accounting for about 14 percent of your utility bills. To reduce that exense, make sure your water heater is set to no higher than 120 degrees. Install low-flow showerheads or temperature-sensitive shower valves. If your water heater is more than five years old, you should wrap a water heater jacket around it to stop heat loss from the tank.

Q: Where can I find more information?

A: For many more details, including how to go about scheduling an energy audit, go to energy.gov/articles/resolve-save-energy-year.

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