Winter is here and along with it, the traditional drop in temperatures and rising cost of utilities.
If saving money is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, then follow National Grid's tips to cut energy costs and increase efficiency in your home in 2013.
Tune up for efficiency
- Maintaining an efficient heating system is an important step to conserving energy. Have your heating system serviced once every two years, and never try to repair it yourself.
- Have your chimney flue, space heaters, water heater and fireplace checked.
- If your heating system has a filter, clean or replace it every month during the heating season.
- Your furnace or boiler needs air to work properly (and efficiently). Don't close it off with walls, debris or other obstructions.
Turn down for savings
- For every 1°F that you dial down your thermostat, you can save one to three percent on your annual heating costs.
- Turn down the thermostat every time you leave the house for two or more hours, and every night before you go to bed. It takes less energy to warm up a cool house than to maintain a warm temperature all day and night.
- Installing an automatic setback thermostat is an inexpensive, easy way to maintain comfort and cut heating costs. You can program it to turn the heating system up and down at pre-set times.
- Insulate your attic, walls, ceilings and floors to prevent heat escaping to the outdoors. Insulation improves your comfort as well as the efficiency of your home - and that means more savings for you.
- Apply the same principle to your personal comfort. Wear several layers of clothing to keep yourself warmer while keeping the thermostat down.
- Take advantage of the sun: open drapes during the day to capture warmth and close them at night to prevent heat loss through windows.
Seal air leaks
- Cold air let in by air leaks can increase your energy use, so seal all holes and cracks where cold air can get in.
- It's especially important to caulk windows and weatherstrip around door frames. Also, replace any broken panes on storm doors and windows.
- Other air-sealing tips including shutting off heat to unused rooms and closing the fireplace damper.
- Remove window air conditioning units during the cold months to reduce drafts. If this isn't possible, cover the inside and outside of the unit with plastic.
- You can also move furniture to warmer spots in the room to avoid cold drafts and stay more comfortable.
- Install an ENERGY STAR® programmable thermostat
Program your ENERGY STAR certified thermostat to turn on and off automatically. For example, set the thermostat to turn off an hour after you go to bed and back on one hour before you wake up. Remember, each degree you lower your thermostat can save you up to 2% on your heating costs.
- Clean or replace your furnace filter regularly
A dirty filter prevents proper airflow, makes your heater run longer and uses more energy. By simply cleaning/replacing the filter in forced-air heating systems you can save up to 5% on your heating costs.
- Annual heating system tune-up
Have your heating system professionally checked once a year to keep the unit running efficiently. Make sure there are no leaks in your ducts. Leaky or disconnected air ducts can cause you to loose 10% to 30% of your heating energy. Why let all that heat blow outdoors?
- Lower the temperature on your water heater
Reduce your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees or to the low/medium setting. If you have a dishwasher without a built-in heating unit, 140 degrees is recommended (refer to your owner's manual). Each 10 degree reduction will save 3% to 5% on water heating costs.
- Install high efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators
Save up to 50% on hot water costs and reduce water waste by installing high efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators.
- Take a shorter shower
Reduce that lingering time in the shower by a few minutes and save hundreds of gallons of hot water per month for a family of four. Showers account for 66% of your water heating costs. Cutting your showers in half will reduce your heating costs by 33%.
- Insulate with window coverings
Close blinds and drapes at night to keep cold air out and open them during the day to let the warm sun in.
- Insulate your attic and walls and get a rebate
Insulation is one of the least expensive things that you can do to reduce energy usage and improve comfort. Adequate insulation above the ceiling and in the walls does the same thing for your house that wearing a hat and sweater does for you----keeps the heat in and the cold out! Proper insulation can save up to 30% on your heating bills and will make your home more comfortable in the process.
- Unplug electronics when not in use: TVs, computers, chargers, etc.