February 2009
No-Cost, Low-Cost Ways to Save Energy
Low temps can equal higher bills this winter

Six-year record low temperatures in January can mean higher energy bills this month. Looking to cut costs on your next bill? Here are a few ways to do that no matter what your budget might be. Just by making small changes, you can reduce your energy consumption by 10 percent or more.

No Cost Energy Savers

  • Help your gas dryer operate to its fullest by cleaning the lint screen after every load.
  • Turn off pool heaters during winter months - they cost big bucks to run, and pools are rarely (if ever) used in winter.
  • Lower the temperature on your thermostat at night and while you are away from home.
  • Wear warmer clothing around the house. Dress in layers rather than changing the thermostat when you're too cold.
  • Lower the temperature on your water heater. A setting of 120 degrees is adequate for most homes. You'll save energy and protect your family from scalds.
  • Wash and dry only full loads of laundry. And try washing clothes with cold water instead of warm.
  • Open blinds and drapes during the day. Let the sun shine in during the winter for solar heating.
  • Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load.
  • Low Cost Energy Savers

  • Add insulation to your water heater and pipes.
  • If you don't already have one, install a programmable thermostat (and set it correctly).
  • Seal and insulate ductwork by wrapping all seams and joints. Seal joints with mastic compound or use a good quality duct tape (U.L. standard 181).
  • Upgrade the caulking and weather-stripping around windows and doors.
  • Replace or clean your furnace's air filter once a month, depending on the type of filter you have.
  • Install low-flow showerheads.
  • Fix leaky pipes and faucets.
  • Long-Term Efficiency Investments

  • Choose a furnace with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of at least 90 percent.
  • A water heater is generally the second largest energy user in your home, so choose one with a high energy factor (EF) for more efficiency.
  • Insulate, or add insulation to, your attic and crawlspace. The Department of Energy and Energy Star have recommendations on their websites for suggested R-values for an energy efficient home.
  • This winter, avoid comparing your energy bill with your neighbor's bill. Every home is different, including the home's construction, appliances and also the habits of its occupants. Also avoid comparing it with your bill from a year ago. Year-to-year changes in temperature, lifestyle, habits and rates can all play a factor in your bill.

    Read other articles from The Walton EMC Gasette:
    Ask the Energy Expert
    How do I know if my attic is properly insulated?
    Gas Up the Stove
    This month's recipe features Quick Chicken Noodle Soup.