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Thursday
October 06th, 2022

energy tips graphicCourtesy graphicELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Fall is officially in the air, meaning cooler temperatures will soon make their way through. 

With that in mind, many people will be making adjustments as far as running their HVAC units, and there are steps people can take to make sure their energy bills do not get too out of hand. 

“If you haven't already, conduct an energy assessment to determine where to save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings,” energy.gov noted. “Take advantage of heat from the sun and open curtains on the south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat the home, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows. Be certain to plant deciduous trees on the south facing side of the home, especially in proximity to windows.  They will let the light and warmth in the windows during the winter and will shade the windows in the summer. Also be sure to cover drafty windows. Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration. Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.”

Saveonenergy.com also offered some advice for people looking to save on their energy bill in the coming cooler months. 

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“Keep your thermostat at or below 68 degrees. Regulating the temperature in your home is important and can save you money. The Department of Energy suggests turning back your thermostat seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day to save up to 10 percent on heating costs,” saveonenergy.com noted. “If you set your temperature to 68 degrees while at home and lower the temperature before going to bed, your HVAC system will have less work to do, resulting in lower energy consumption. Managing the temperature of your home is even easier with a programmable thermostat or a thermostat that you can control from your phone. Also be sure and check for cracks, leaks, and drafts. Air leakage occurs because of cracks or gaps in windows, doors and walls and can lead to higher monthly energy rates because it lets heat escape and cold air enter. Before it gets too cold, it’s important to check all your doors and windows for air leakage that could keep your heater running overtime. If your front or back door has space between it and the floor, add weather stripping to the bottom or use caulk to seal the gap. This will prevent excess heat from escaping and could keep your heater from running up your energy bill. Also, be sure to check out the exterior or your home – it’s common to find gaps or cracks around windows and doors or where different building materials meet.”

Another simple step that will help in the cooler months, saveonenergy.com noted, is making sure the HVAC filter is in good shape. 

“This is easy to forget, but could save your home from using unnecessary energy. Your air filter is the access point for your HVAC system’s air flow, and the place that filters your home from allergens and dirt particles,” saveonenergy.com noted. “If you don’t replace your air filter, it clogs up from excess dust. This reduces airflow, or increases resistance, which puts strain on your heating and cooling system. Check your filter once a month to make sure it’s not too dirty, or subscribe to a filter delivery service for a monthly reminder.”

Energy.gov noted other such maintenance will be a great help in the long run. 

“Schedule routine service for home heating systems, and replace furnace and heat pump filters once a month or as needed,” energy.gov noted. “Regularly clean the flue vent of wood and pellet burning heaters and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that it is heating efficiently. Find other maintenance recommendations for wood- and pellet-burning appliances. With fireplaces, Keep the fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney. When using the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly--approximately 1 inch--and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F. If the fireplace is never used, plug and seal the chimney flue. Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.”

Something else to keep in mind with the coming cool months, according to directenergy.com, is the water heater. 

“Don’t set your water heater temperature higher than 140 degrees, which is sufficient to kill any harmful bacteria. If you’re leaving your home unoccupied for an extended period, it’s safe to turn your thermostat down or set your water heater to vacation mode,” directenergy.com noted. “Just remember to adjust the settings when you return and wait for the water tank to heat up again. Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket, especially if it’s located in a garage, attic, basement or any unheated area of the home. If you’re planning new construction, locate the water heater strategically. The closer it is to the kitchen and bathrooms, the shorter the distance your hot water must travel. This minimizes heat loss to help you save energy.”