snug pugFive Ways to Fight the Winter Chill and Save Energy

We all have our favorite season. Some people love crisp, cool weather and bundling up under a favorite blanket, while others prefer the warm temperatures summer brings and all fun outdoor activities that go with it. But there’s one thing we can all agree on: high winter bills are never fun. KEC is here to help you find ways to manage your home energy use and keep winter bills in check.

Here are five tips to help increase your home’s energy efficiency this winter:

  1. Mind the thermostat. This is one of the easiest ways to manage your home energy use. We recommend setting your thermostat to 68 degrees (or lower) when you’re home. When you’re sleeping or away for an extended period of time, try setting it between 58 and 62 degrees; there’s no need to heat your home when you’re away or sleeping and less active.
  2. Button up your home. The Department of Energy estimates that air leaks account for 24% to 40% of the energy used for heating and cooling a home. Caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors is another simple, cost-effective way to increase comfort and save energy. If you can feel drafts while standing near a window or door, it likely needs to be sealed.
  3. Use window coverings wisely. Open blinds, drapes or other window coverings during the day to allow natural sunlight in to warm your home. Close them at night to keep the cold, drafty air out. If you feel cold air around windows, consider hanging curtains or drapes in a thicker material; heavier window coverings can make a significant difference in blocking cold outdoor air.
  4. Consider your approach to appliance use. When combined, appliances and electronics account for a significant chunk of our home energy use, so assess how efficiently you’re using them. For example, if you’re running the dishwasher or clothes washer, only wash full loads. Look for electronic devices that consume energy even when they’re not in use, like phone chargers or game consoles. Every little bit helps, so unplug them to save energy.
  5. Think outside the box. If you’re still feeling chilly at home, think of other ways to warm up––beyond dialing up the thermostat. Add layers of clothing, wear thick socks and bundle up under blankets. You can even add layers to your home! If you have hard-surface flooring, consider purchasing an area rug to block cold air that leaks in through the floor.

Other Ways to Save Energy:

Water Heaters:

  • Reduce thermostat setting to 120 degrees. Have an electrician disconnect the power at the breaker panel before attempting any electrical work. Have an electrician or plumber assist you if you feel you are not qualified. Most energy-efficient dishwashers have a heating element to sanitize dishes which is more efficient and less costly.
  • Install low-flow shower heads. Many newer models provide invigorating showers with less hot water.
  • Add an extra blanket of insulation if the water heater is in an unheated location and is an older less-insulated model.
  • Fix leaky hot water faucets or pipes. They can leak over 2000 gallons of water a year and waste the power used to heat it.
  • Showers use less energy than baths.
  • Do not leave the hot water running longer than necessary when using it.
  • Replace your old water heater with a heat pump water heater.

Refrigerator/Freezer:

  • Vacuum coils on back or bottom once or twice a year to remove dust and debris.
  • Set refrigerator temperature no colder than 37 degrees and freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep freezers and refrigerators filled to near capacity.
  • If your unit is not frost-free defrost it regularly.
  • When replacing older units consider ENERGY STAR® appliances and get a rebate.

Cooking:

  • Preheat ovens only when needed. Meals that take more than an hour to cook can be started in a cold oven.
  • Every time you open the oven door, you can lose 25% of the heat in it. "A watched pot never boils."
  • Glass or ceramic cookware conducts heat more efficiently than most metals and you can finish cooking on lower heat. You may be able to reduce cooking temperature by 25 degrees.
  • Microwaves can cut cooking energy by up to 40%--considerably less energy than conventional oven.

Dishwashers:house with lights on

  • Try to wash full loads most of the time.
  • Use the energy-savings cycle whenever possible.
  • Use the no-heat dry unless you are in a hurry.
  • When replacing, consider an ENERGY STAR® model.

Clothes Dryer:

  • Check the dryer vent to make sure it is not clogged with lint and is venting the moist air outside the home.
  • Try to operate the dryer when it is full nearly to capacity but not overloaded.
  • Use the lowest heat setting for the load type being dried.
  • Clean the lint filter after each load.
  • Remove clothes immediately at the end of the drying cycle to reduce the need for "fluffing" or "dewrinkling."

Leaving for a few days?

  • If gone during heating season lower your thermostat(s) to 50-55 degrees.
  • If you are gone for more than three days turn off your electric water heater.