Conserving Today Means Saving Tomorrow
by Roger Lawien
Do you want to save money and electricity at your home but have limited time, money and patience? All of our homes can use a periotic efficiency checkup.
Luckily, there are several relatively easy ways to save energy without a substantial commitment of time and money. These efforts will help you save whether you own or rent an older or newly constructed home. And, you won’t have to hire a specialist or call in a favor from someone who is handy with tools to help you.
Where to start
According to Money Magazine, “improving the envelope” of your home is a good place to start. Sunlight, seasonal temperature changes and wind vibrations can loosen up even a tight home, increasing air leakage. Doors and windows may not close tightly, and duct work can spring leaks, wasting cooled and heated air. By placing weather stripping and caulk around windows and doors, you can keep cool air inside during warm months and prevent chilly air from penetrating the indoors during colder months. Sealing gaps around piping, dryer vents, fans and outlets also helps to seal the envelope and creates greater efficiency. Apply weather stripping around overlooked spaces like your attic hatch or pull-down stairs. Try this simple low-cost trick to discover where any leaks are occurring. Tape a piece of toilet paper to a pencil. On a windy day slowly run the pencil and toilet paper along your windows, doors and outlets. You will be surprised where air leaks are occurring.
Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs can make a big difference in home efficiency and is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bill. Known for their longevity and efficiency, LED bulbs have an estimated operational life span of typically 10,000 to 20,000 hours compared to 1,000 hours of a typical incandescent. According to the Dept. of Energy, by replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR rating, you can save as much as $75 each year.
Wrapping up savings
Installing a blanket around your water heater could reduce standby heat losses by 25 to 45 percent and save you about 7 to 16 percent in water heating costs, according to the Dept. of Energy. For a small investment of about $30, you can purchase pre-cut jackets or blankets and install them in about one hour. Insulating hot water pipes is another great way to save money.
Given that a large portion of your monthly energy bill goes toward heating and cooling your home, it makes sense to ensure your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is performing at an optimal level. Checking, changing or cleaning your filter is essential. A dirty or clogged filter will cause your furnace to run longer to keep up. A clean filter extends the life of your HVAC system and saves you money.
Take control of your energy savings
Remember, there are easy steps you can take now to improve the energy efficiency of your home. To learn about additional ways to save, download 101 ways to save energy or contact Member Services at 605-865-3511 we will send you one.