Don’t just adjust your thermostat by a degree or two. Constantly monitor it to see what adjustments can be made according to weather and time of day. (Photo: Fort Rucker, Flickr)
Conserving energy saves consumers money while reducing the consumption of natural resources and minimizing pollution. This is why many of the appliances on the market today are Energy Star rated and more energy-efficient than their counterparts of decades past.
Other factors come into play, too. Some home appliances just cost more than others to run, and time of day also plays a role in how much it costs to do your household chores.
“Just being conscious of energy use can go a long way in reducing energy consumption,” said Greg Epperson, EPB engineering tech.
For consumers who have older appliances and systems that were not designed with energy-saving features, here are a few tips for cutting back on your household’s energy consumption.
Monitor your thermostat.
We’ve all heard that altering your thermostat by a degree or so can make a big difference on your energy bill, and it can. But you shouldn’t just adjust the thermostat by a degree or two and be done with it—do this consistently according to the weather and time of day. And there is more to monitoring your thermostat than just moving it up or down a degree according to the season.
“You also should make sure the heating system is working properly,” Epperson said.
Be conscientious of your heat source.
Epperson recommends using a heat pump instead of electric resistance heat, such as space heaters, wall heaters, floor furnaces, baseboard heaters and central electric heat.
“This type of heat should be changed to an electric heat pump that is properly sized and installed,” he said.
Keep heat where it belongs …
… which is outside in the summer and inside in the winter. Obviously consumers know not to leave the doors and windows standing open during extreme outside temperatures, but there is more to keeping hot air where it belongs.
Eligible homeowners in the EPB and Volunteer Energy Cooperative service areas qualify for the eScore program, which is a free home evaluation program that looks at a home’s specific energy needs. In some cases, owners qualify for cash incentives for installing energy-saving improvements. Call 423-648-1EPB or 855-237-2673 for more information.
“We give advice on the best ways to save energy in their particular house,” Epperson said.
“Simple, no-cost ways to achieve this are to open drapes on sunny days to let heat in and close drapes in the summer to keep heat out,” Epperson said.
If your windows are not double paned or storm windows, you can use plastic to cover windows in the wintertime to reduce drafts. Additionally, you should make sure holes, gaps and weatherstripping are all intact so your home is properly insulated.
Focus on hot water usage.
Besides focusing on leaks or dripping faucets, you should also make sure your water heater is set at 120 degrees. Any hotter is unnecessary and a waste of energy.
“Consumers can also wash clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot when possible, and run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads,” Epperson said.
An advantage of owning an Energy Star washing machine is that it wrings the clothes out better so that your clothes dryer does not have to run as long, Epperson said.
Unplug unnecessary fridges and freezers.
Many of us have older fridges and freezers plugged up in the garage or basement, but consider reducing your amount of food storage in favor of unplugging the extra appliance. Refrigerators and freezers use lots of energy, so if you have a second one somewhere in the home, you’re doubling that cost on your electricity bill. If your family relies on a second refrigerator or freezer, consider investing in an Energy Star model—they typically use half the energy of some older models, so they pay for themselves over time.
Monitor light usage and bulbs.
Changing out incandescent bulbs to LED or compact fluorescent bulbs can go a long way.
“Not only does this save energy on lighting, but there is savings in summer, since these lights do not produce as much heat as incandescent bulbs,” Epperson said.
You should also be diligent about turning off lights and fans that are not being used.
“The fan only makes our bodies cool; it does not reduce the temperature in the room or house,” Epperson said.
Turn off and unplug what you aren’t using.
Even appliances and chargers that are not currently being used or plugged into any devices still use energy. So unplugging devices and appliances that are not used frequently can cut back on your energy consumption, as can unplugging chargers when they aren’t in use.
“Also, turn off things like computers when you aren’t actually on them,” Epperson said.
John Pless is the public relations coordinator at EPB.
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