Frost is on the pumpkins and it's the time of year when we are switching on our home heat and spending more time indoors. It doesn't take much effort to learn how to use energy wisely. Here are some tips provided by Louisville Gas & Electric that you might consider implementing this year. They encompass both winter and summer. Even if you only incorporate a few of them into your daily rountine, you will be saving energy and money. Take a look and see if you think you could try a few of these suggestions.
- To save up to $27 a year, change your five most-used light bulbs to energy-efficient compact florescent light bulbs (CFL). The more bulbs still you change, the more you'll save.
- Use light-colored, loose-weave curtains on windows to allow daylight to filter in while maintaining privacy.
- Three-way lamps make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary.
- Use task lighting. Focus the light where you need it so that you are not brightly lighting an entire room.
- Turn off lights when they are not in use. Consider using timers to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
- Use dimmers, motion sensors or occupancy sensors to automatically turn on or off lighting as needed.
- Use ENERGY STAR qualified light fixtures and bulbs.
- During sunny winter days, open the curtains on your south-facing windows to allow the sun to naturally heat your home.
Heating and Cooling
- To save up to 12% on your energy bill, use a programmable thermostat.
- Save up to $45 a year by adjusting your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter.
- Save $50 a year by having your HVAC system professionally inspected.
- Clean or replace furnace filters every 30 days. (The day you receive your energy bill can serve as a good reminder that it's time to do this maintenance.)
- Clean registers, baseboards, heaters and radiators regularly. Be sure to move furniture, carpeting or drapes so they are not blocking these elements.
- Your HVAC contractor should be able to provide fact sheets for various HVAC models so that you can compare energy usage. While the national Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is 78% for furnaces, some ENERGY STAR models exceed 90% AFUE.
- Fans help circulate the air in your home. Moving air makes you feel cooler, so you can set your thermostat at a higher temperature during the summer and still feel comfortable.
- Turn off fans in rooms when not in use. Fans are effective at cooling you–not the room. Shutting curtains and drapes at night will help to retain the cool air.
- Use exhaust or ventilation fans in your kitchen or bathroom for only as long as you need them. Don't allow them to run for more than 20 minutes.
- Insulate your hot water heater to prevent heat loss. You may also want to insulate the hot water pipes in your home.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR label when replacing your HVAC equipment.
Appliances and Electronics
- Most appliances continue to draw small amounts of power even when they are turned off. This 'phantom' energy consumption occurs in almost all appliances that use electricity, such as VCR's, televisions, stereo equipment, computers, kitchen appliances and telephones with answering machines. Avoid this 'phantom' energy drain by unplugging the appliance when it is not in use or by using a power strip to turn off the appliance(s) when not in use.
- Screen savers on computer monitors are not energy savers. The best energy-saving strategy is to set the computer to automatically switch to sleep mode or to manually turn off the computer and monitor when it's not in use.
- Make sure the power management settings are activated on your computer(s). ENERGY STAR qualified computers and monitors save energy only when the power management setting are on.
- Unplug rechargeable battery and cell phone chargers when not in use.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR label when shopping for home appliances and electronics. It's the government's seal of energy efficiency.
- TVs and DVD players use energy even when in standby mode. Plug these electronics into power strips and turn them on only when you plan to use them.
- Air dry your dishes instead of using the diswasher's drying cycle.
- Wash clothes in cold or warm water, and always rinse in cold water. Line dry clothes or use drying racks.
- Inspect your clothes dryer vent to ensure that it's not blocked. You will save energy and possibly prevent a fire.
- Clean the lint filter in your clothes dryer after every load. This improves air circulation.
- Wash and dry only full loads of clothes. Don't forget to adjust your washer's water level if you wash smaller loads.
- To prevent heat build up in your home, consider using your microwave, crock pot or outdoor grill to prepare meals instead of the oven or stove.
Insulation and Air Sealing
- Caulk and weather strip your doors and windows to help keep the warm or cool air that you've paid for inside your home. This saves energy and money.
- Caulking should be soft and crack free for optimum performance.
- Use trees, shrubs or awnings at your windows to shade from the heat of the day in summer. In winter, remove awnings and trim shrubs and trees to take advantage of the suns warming rays.
- Use draft stoppers at doors and windows.
- Improve your home's energy performance by installing new energy-efficient windows. You may realize personal benefits from improved aestherics and comfort, even though it may take years to pay off the financial investment in overall energy savings.
- If you do replace your windows, make sure they are installed correctly by a qualified professional.
- In the summer, close curtains on the south and west facing windows during the hottest part of the day. Consider applying sun-control or reflective film to prevent the intense summer heat from entering your home.
- Reflect heat away from your house by installing white window shades, drapes or blinds.
- If you are unable to replace your windows, make any necessary repairs windows to improve their efficiency.
- Install tight-fitting window shades on drafty windows, once you have weatherized them. A low cost measure is to use heavy duty, clear plastic sheeting on the window frames during the winter. Tightly sealed plastic will reduce air infiltration.
- Get an energy audit. Find out where the common sources of air leaks are within your home.
- To test for air leaks on your own, hold a burning candle near your windws and doors on a windy day. If the flame flickers, you have an air leak that needs to be addressed.
- Make sure that you have adequate insulation in your home.
- Close fireplace dampers when not in use.
- Put extra blankets on your bed.
- Warm air rises, so cooler air will be at ground level. Wear socks and shoes to keep your feet warm.
- Take short showers instead of baths.
- Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees F.
- Buy a new energy-efficient water heater. It make cost more initially, but the energy savings will continue throughout the lifetime of the water heater. Look for ENERGY STAR models.
- Wash full loads of clothes or dishes.
- Install faucet aerators or low-flow faucets and shower heads.
- If heating your swimming pool, use a swimming pool cover to prevent water evaporation.
Here's wishing everyon a very fun and safe Halloween. Have a great week everybody!