Just a few small tweaks in your home can result in tremendous savings in energy. I highly recommend the California Energy Commission’s comprehensive website which provides tips for all seasons.
Here are a few of their most valuable winter tips and a few of mine:
- Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-70 degree range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs. So lower your thermostat, health permitting, and wear warmer clothes. When leaving home for an extended time, set the temperature back to 55 degrees and while sleeping 60-64 degrees (heat pumps should only be set back 2 degrees to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heating). Close vents in bedrooms and other areas when not in use.
- Replace or clean furnace filters as recommended. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy use.
- Reduce hot water temperature. Set your water heater to the “normal” setting or 120-degrees Fahrenheit. Savings are 7-11 percent of water heating costs. Wrap older water tanks with jacket insulation, leaving the air intake vent uncovered, for an additional 10% savings. Estimated to be 22% more efficient, we installed a tankless on-demand water heater. When the faucet is turned to hot, water is instantaneously heated by a gas burner or electric element.
- Seal up the leaks. Those leaks are easy to find on a windy day. Caulk leaks around windows and doors. Look for gaps where pipes, vents or electrical conduits go through the wall, ceiling or floor. Caulk works best on small gaps. Use Great Stuff or weather stripping for larger gaps and install gaskets behind outlet covers.
- Consider replacing your old gas appliances with an ENERGY STAR® water heater or furnace. Check for possible rebates and incentives.
- Open your drapes for free heat while the sun is shining; move your sitting furniture to the interior of the room where it is warmer and less drafty; close the damper on traditional fireplaces when not in use; and consider increasing ceiling insulation to R-38 for significant savings and comfort.
Other effective year-round tips –
- Keep lights turned off in unoccupied rooms.
- Shorten showers for significant savings on water and heating. Install low flow showerheads.
- Use appliances efficiently. Fill dishwasher full and skip heat/dry cycle. Fill laundry full, use the cold cycle and keep the dryer lint clean.
- Put your computer and monitor to sleep.
- Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights which take 75% less energy or go for even more efficient LED lights.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
Don’t let this long list overwhelm you. Just start with a few tips and build on them. In Boonvile, we can review our monthly Ameren usage charts to monitor our progress. Our most recent bill indicates, so far this year we have used 15.2% less electricity and 27.6% less gas than last year! As you take action and see your energy bill decrease, you will be on your path to energy efficiency.