Making smart energy choices are keys to a brighter future. Learning more about how to reduce your energy usage gives you the power to save for our community.
There are many things you can begin doing today! Many are no-cost or low-cost items that can add up to make a significant difference in your energy and water consumption – while making your home more comfortable.
- Weatherstrip around doors and windows. You can dodge drafts by installing low-cost weatherstrip around doors and windows. Sometimes a rolled-up rug or towel will do the trick. To keep cold air from circulating under your house, close the foundation vents. Don’t forget to close and seal basement windows too.
- Raise the humidity . . . lower the temperature. If the air in your home becomes dry in the winter, you will require a higher thermostat setting to remain comfortable. For example 75° and 10% relative humidity feels the same as 70° and 50% humidity. Add moisture, lower the thermostat – you’ll be comfortable and save energy too.
- Adjust your water heater temperature. Adjust your water heater so kitchen temperature is between 120 – 130 degrees F. Wrapping your water heater with an insulation blanket will help reduce heat loss through the tank walls – which is where the majority of you water heating energy dollars go.
- Install a programmable thermostat. You can easily save energy by adjusting the thermostat when you’re away (or asleep). This strategy is effective and inexpensive if you are willing to adjust the thermostat by hand and wake up in a chilly house. To maximize your energy savings without sacrificing comfort, you can install a programmable thermostat. You can save 3% – 5% of your heating costs for each degree you set your thermostat below 68°.
- Open shades . . . let the sunlight in. Make the most of the sun’s warmth by opening shades and draperies during the day, and closing them at night. Over the winter, you can save about $5 in heating costs with each average-size, south-facing window.
- Remove window air conditioners or seal around them. Window units, if left in place during the winter, should be wrapped on the inside, and good weatherstripping should be used to block air infiltration around the unit. If wrapped on the outside, warm moist air from inside the home can condense and freeze inside the unit, possibly causing damage to the system.
- Install sealers at outlets and switches. If you feel cold air leaking through electrical outlet or switch covers, seal them with inexpensive foam gaskets.
- Don’t let heat go up in smoke. In cold weather the furnace may have to work harder if you’re using a conventional fireplace. When the mercury drops to about 25° or below, that fireplace will probably draw more heat up the chimney than it produces. Be sure the damper is closed when no fire is burning.
- Maintain your furnace. Check the filter in your forced air heating system once a month. If they are clogged or dirty, clean or replace them – your furnace will work more efficiently. Have your furnace serviced periodically.
- Check your ducts. Ducts are usually out of site and out of mind. Over time, ducts can become disjointed or loosen from the registers, sending your valuable heat to the attic or crawlspace. Check your duct system – and if necessary, have a qualified technician do repairs, insulate and seal.
- Set the air conditioner thermostat or control at the highest setting possible for comfort (78° or above). You could have a 3% savings for every degree above your normal setting. Setting the thermostat on very low will not cool the house faster. Before work, or when you leave the house for at least four hours, turn the air conditioner 10° higher or off. The system will run steadily for a period when turned back on, but it will use less energy than if it ran all day. To make this easier and increase your comfort, install a programmable thermostat to start re-cooling your house 30 minutes to l hour before you expect to come home.
- Change or clean the filters in the air handler at least twice during the cooling season. On the outside unit, keep fins and coils free from leaves, dust, and grass clippings and other debris.
- Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
- Plant trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units but not to block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
- Close drapes and shades during the day to keep out the heat from the sun – especially on the south and west sides.
- Closing off air conditioning vents in an unoccupied room can save 5-10% on your cooling costs. Try not to close off any more than 40% of the vents in your home.
- Avoid activities that add heat or humidity to your home, particularly during the hottest parts of the day or limit them to times when nobody is home. In the kitchen, use a microwave or toaster oven for smaller items.
- Seal any gaps along the sides of your room air conditioners with foam insulation. Your air conditioner will stay on much longer if the cool air is escaping.
- Consider using a dehumidifier instead of turning on the air conditioning. You will be comfortable at much higher temperatures by reducing the humidity.
- Whole house or attic fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside.
- The breeze created by a ceiling fan or portable fan typically makes you feel 6 – 8 degrees cooler, allowing you to raise the thermostat setting and save energy.
- Replace heat producing incandescent light bulbs with cool, energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs produce the same amount of light as traditional light bulbs but use about one-quarter of the energy and last about ten-times as long.
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)
ENERGY STAR® qualified lighting provides bright, warm light but uses about 75% less energy than standard lighting, produce 75 percent less heat, and lasts up to 10 times longer.
To save the most energy and money, replace your highest used fixtures or the light bulbs in them with energy-efficient models. The five highest use fixtures in a home are typically the kitchen ceiling lights, the living or family room table and floor lamps, and outdoor porch or post lamp.
The Facts on CFLs and Mercury: (See ENERGY STAR® CFL Fact Sheet)
City Utilities offers resources, tools and rebates to assist you in making energy efficient decisions for your home or business.
City Utilities of Springfield Energy Management & Conservation department 874-8200 www.cuenergywise.com
ENERGY STAR® www.energystar.gov
US Department of Energy – Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy www.eere.energy.gov