Is your home as energy-efficient as it could be?
Keeping the warm air in during the winter months and keeping the hot air out during the summer months not only helps you stay comfortable, it keeps your REMC electric bill affordable. Not sure where to begin? The tips below will help you identify some ways that you can save energy and cut the cost of your electric bill.
During colder months:
- Lower your thermostat. REMC recommends 68 degrees or lower. If you have a heat pump, adjust your thermostat in one-degree increments to avoid activating the costly auxiliary heat.
- Seal air leaks: Drafts can increase your heating bill by 20 percent.
- Use less hot water: Adjust the temperature setting on your water heater to 120 degrees.
- Limit the use of space heaters: Instead, consider small electric blankets.
- Spare fridge or freezer? If not kept full, it should be emptied and unplugged until needed.
Here are some other suggestions for saving energy this winter:
- Use a programmable thermostat.
- Have your heating system serviced annually.
- Check your filters monthly and change when dirty.
- Don't block heat supply or return air vents with furniture or other objects.
- Keep outside heating unit free of debris.
- Ensure ductwork is well insulated.
- Remove window air-conditioning units during winter.
- Make sure your fireplace damper seals tightly and remains closed except when a fire is burning.
- Open drapes and curtains to let the sun in during the day.
- Ensure windows and doors seal tightly when closed.
- Is your home's insulation up to current standard? Is some missing or compressed? There should be about 13" or R-38 in attics, R-15 for walls and 6" or R-19 in crawl space floors.
- Do not run ceiling fans in the winter.
During the summer:
- Keep your thermostat at 78 degrees or the highest comfortable setting.
- Avoid placing lamps or TVs near your air-conditioning thermostat.
- Have your cooling system serviced annually.
- Check your filters monthly and replace when dirty.
- Don't block your supply or return air vents with furniture or other objects.
- At night, lower the thermostat to cool off the house.
- Check your cooling system's ductwork. Ensure that it is well insulated.
- Close drapes and curtains to keep the sun out during the day.
- Check all windows and doors to be sure they seal tightly when closed.
- Is your home's insulation up to current standard? Is some missing or compressed. There should be about 13" of insulation, or an equivalent of R-38, in attics, R-13 for walls and 6" or R-19 in crawl space floors. Add additional insulation if yours is below standard.
- Run ceiling fans only in occupied rooms.
Smart and Programmable Thermostats
Being smart about how you control your temperature settings will help you save money and stay comfortable. Set your thermostat up or down a few degrees (suggested 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer) when you are away from home.
A programmable thermostat will automatically turn on the heating or air conditioning at times you schedule. Programmable thermostats can store multiple daily settings that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program. Using a programmable thermostat allows flexibility and adds convenience, as temperatures will automatically return to normal before you wake or return home.
A smart thermostat is a Wi-Fi enabled device that automatically adjusts heating and cooling temperature settings for optimal performance. With a smart thermostat, it’s easy to schedule your HVAC to run less while you’re out for the day, so you’ll use less energy. Some common smart thermostat features:
- Learns the temperature you like and establishing a schedule that automatically adjusts to energy-saving temperatures when you are asleep or away.
- Senses when nobody is at home and adjusts the temperature accordingly.
- Allows you to control thermostat remotely through your smartphone or tablet.
The average U.S. household has about 70 light bulbs. One LED (light-emitting diode) light bulb uses up to 850% less energy than old incandescent bulbs and and has the potential to last tens of thousands of hours, so you’ll be buying and changing bulbs less frequently.
- For soft, white, warmer light, look for bulbs marked 2700–3000 K.
- For a whiter light, look for bulbs marked 3500–4100 K.
- For bluer white light or daylight, look for bulbs marked 5000–6500 K.
Check air filters at least once a month and change as needed.
REC’s energy advisers recommend using filters with MERV ratings of six to eight. Unless the system was designed for higher MERV ratings, it is recommended that an HVAC professional who is NATE-certified should be used to verify that the air flow does not restrict the performance of the system.
Heating and cooling professionals recommend turning your system off before changing the air filter. Make sure that the arrow on the filter - which indicates the direction of the airflow - is pointing toward the blower motor. Once you’ve made the change, turn your system back on.
Run ceiling fans only when someone is occupying the room. Ceiling fans cool people not rooms. Using a ceiling fan allows you to turn up the thermostat about 4°F without any loss in comfort.
In the winter set the fan to run in the clockwise direction to help push warm air down.
In the summer months set the ceiling fan to run counterclockwise to circulate cool air.
Turn off kitchen, bath and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing. When replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
Ensure air vents are open. Keep the areas around baseboard heaters, heating and cooling registers, and radiators clear. You can help ensure that there's always sufficient airflow through your HVAC system by keeping your cold air return registers unobstructed by household items like long drapes, area rugs, furniture and children's toys.
Use exhaust fans that vent the outdoors only as needed to limit sending conditioned air outdoors.
Air ducts are one of the most important systems in your home, as they carry the air from your home’s furnace and central air conditioner to each room. If the ducts are poorly sized, poorly sealed, or poorly insulated, they are likely contributing to higher energy bills. You can often address discomfort from heating and cooling by fixing blocked registers, stuck dampers, or disconnected or damaged ducts, or by replacing register grilles that don’t direct the air adequately.
One of the quickest energy- and money-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal and weatherstrip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. Up to 25% of air is lost through small cracks and holes! To identify air leaks, check around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, lighting and plumbing fixtures, switches and electrical outlets. Look for gaps, improperly applied caulk and weatherstripping, and doors and windows that don’t close tightly.
After you identify all air leaks, do the following:
- Weatherstrip doors and windows.
- Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
- Install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
- Use foam sealant on larger gaps around window trims, baseboards, and other places where air may leak out.
- Wood-burning fireplaces and wood-burning stoves usually have a damper installed. The damper is designed to be shut when the fireplace is not in use and can be easily opened when it is. It's common to forget to close the damper after a fire goes out. This essentially leaves a big hole through which heated or cooled air can escape the house. Be sure to close the damper when not in use to help maintain the temperature in your home.
ENERGY STAR-certified dishwashers use less water and energy when compared to conventional models.In addition, look for the following when buying a dishwasher:
- The EnergyGuide label, to compare models and estimate operating costs.
- The right size for your home. You’ll likely spend less to operate a standard-size model less often than to run a compact model more frequently.
- Options, to allow you to use more efficient cycles when dishes aren’t heavily soiled.
Some additional tips when it comes to energy savings with dishwashers:
- Only run the dishwasher when it is full (not overloaded).
- Let dishes air dry instead of using your dishwasher’s heated dry setting.
- If your dishwasher has an internal heating element that boosts water temperature, set your home’s water heater to 120°F.
Pay attention to the ENERGY STAR and EnergyGuide labels, to compare models and ensure you are buying an efficient product.
Follow these tips to reduce the amount of energy your refrigerator uses:
- Set the temperature at 35˚–38˚F for refrigerators and 0˚F for standalone freezers.
- Keep the door closed as much as possible.
- Place the refrigerator away from the oven or dishwasher and out of direct sunlight.
- Leave a few inches between the wall and the refrigerator, and keep the condenser coils clean on older models. Check the user’s manual for instructions.
Additional Kitchen Energy Tips:
- Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
- Cover pots and pans when you cook. You’ll use less energy.
- Match the size of the pan to the heating element.
- Use small appliances such as toaster ovens, electric pressure cookers, microwave ovens, or convection ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven.
- Replace light bulbs and light fixtures with ENERGY STAR certified products; kitchen lights are some of the most used in a house.
Clothes washers and dryers are some of the largest energy consumers of any home appliances. ENERGY STAR certified clothes washers use less energy, less water, and have greater capacity, allowing you to wash the same amount of laundry in fewer loads.
Follow these tips to reduce your energy use while doing laundry:
- Warm or cold water is generally sufficient to clean your laundry; most of the energy used by clothes washers goes to heating water. Using warm water instead of hot can cut a load’s energy use in half, and using cold water will save even more.
- Try to wash full loads and use an appropriate water setting if you must wash a small load. Use the high-speed or extended spin cycle to remove as much moisture as possible before drying.
- When buying a new clothes dryer, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR certified clothes dryers use about 20% less energy than conventional models. Many have a moisture sensor that automatically adjusts the amount of heat being used and shuts off the dryer when the load is dry.