Winter is upon us, and you want to save energy and money. But that doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the coziness and comforts available your home. There are easy and simple ways to save energy this winter season. You’ll hardly even notice some, but you’ll pay attention to your lowered power bill.
If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, use it. We forget that, although the fireplace is seen as a luxury in a house today, it was once used as a home’s primary source of heat. And when you’re not using it, be sure to close the damper. If you don’t have programmable thermostats, get them. You can turn the heat down at night, and have it come on 30 minutes before the morning alarm goes off. You’ll wake up to a warm house, but you will have also saved energy and money during the night.
Try lowering the thermostat just a little during the day, and chances are nobody in your family will even notice. Your energy cost increases about three percent for each degree above 68. For further savings, close doors and vents to unused rooms. There’s no need to heat an empty room, and you will force more heat to parts of the house that are occupied. If you have window air-conditioning units, seal any areas around them with duct tape to prevent cold air from coming inside. And if your furnace is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with an Energy-Star rated one.
The laundry room is another big energy leak. The washing machine itself uses little electricity, but it can put out a lot of hot water, which turns into a large bill. Wash as many loads as possible in cold water. There’s probably no reason you can’t use cold water for all rinses. And wait until you have a full load to wash. If you’re in the market for a new washer, you need to know a front-loader uses about 50 percent less energy than a top-loader. The clothes dryer is an energy hog. For quicker and more efficient drying, clean the lint filter after each load. Do all your laundry at one time, and dry the loads one right after another. You’ll be using left-over heat from one load to help dry the next.
Another enormous energy hog is in your kitchen. The refrigerator thermostat should be set no lower than 36 degrees, and the freezer should be set no lower than 0 degrees. Don’t make your refrigerator work overtime. Cool food to room temperature before it goes inside. Keep your freezer stocked. A full freezer retains more cold air when you open the door. And if your frig is more than 15 years old, it’s time to replace it with a modern energy saver. New Energy Star-rated models only cost about $20 per year to use.
When using the oven, it’s seldom necessary to preheat except when baking. Plan to cook several items in the oven at the same time. And when you turn the oven off, you can still use the heat already inside it to keep cooked dishes warm before serving.
Turn your lights off! Using candles on a winter evening not only saves energy and money, it adds to romance, too. So dust off the candlesticks and strike a match. Your energy bill will thank you, and so will your special someone.