With the recent cold snap hitting, you can take some steps to reduce the amount of energy that you’re using to lower your bill. Here are some suggestions.
1. Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs. Wear warm clothing like a sweater and set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the day and evening, health permitting. Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees or off at night or when leaving home for an extended time, saving 5-20 percent of your heating costs (heat pumps should only be set back 2 degrees to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heating).
2. Replace or clean furnace filters once a month. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy use. Now is also the time for a furnace “tune-up.” Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use, saving up to 5 percent of heating costs.
3. Reduce hot water temperature. Set your water heater to the “normal” setting or 120-degrees Fahrenheit, unless the owner’s manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Savings are 7-11 percent of water heating costs. Insulate the first 5 feet of pipe coming out of the top of your water heater or the whole length until the pipe goes into the wall if that is less than five feet. Pipe insulation is available from your hardware store.
4. Seal up the leaks. Caulk leaks around windows and doors. Look for places where you have pipes, vents or electrical conduits that go through the wall, ceiling or floor. Check the bathroom, underneath the kitchen sink, pipes inside a closet, etc. If you find a gap at the point where the pipe or vents goes through the wall, seal it up. Caulk works best on small gaps. Your hardware store should have products to close the larger gaps.
5. Consider replacing your old gas appliances with an ENERGY STAR® water heater or furnace. If your gas water heater is more than 12 years old, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. The best indicator of a water heater’s efficiency is the Energy Factor (EF). The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater. If your furnace is over 15 years old, consider replacing it with an newer ENERGY STAR rated model that is about 15 percent more efficient than standard models.