Thursday, March 29, 2007

Four Tips On Saving Energy Year-round

According to a recent report for the Energy Information Administration, natural gas users can expect to pay an average of $350 more this winter compared with last year, an increase of 48 percent. And those who heat with oil will pay an estimated $378, or 32 percent, more.

As a solution, the Alliance to Save Energy suggests energy efficiency, and the simplest place for consumers to start saving is at home.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimates that if each person increases the energy-efficiency in major appliances by 10 percent to 30 percent, it will release the demand for electricity by the equivalent of 25 large power plants.

Saving energy also saves money. By using energy-efficient products, the average household can save up to $400 per year on utility bills.

Here are some ways to save energy at home:

1. Weatherize your home. The gaps around the windows and doors in an average American house are the equivalent of a 3-by-3 foot hole in the wall. Caulk and weatherstrip to seal off these air leaks. This can save as much as 40 percent on your home's heating and cooling costs.

Stop air from escaping under doors with "sweeps" or "shoes" attached to the bottom. Use window putty to seal gaps around loose window panes.

Also, install foam gaskets behind all the light switches and electrical outlet covers. They help seal the holes created when the outlets and light switches are built into homes. Use child safety plugs to keep the cold air from coming in through the sockets.

2. Get a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats that have earned the Energy Star label help you save money and keep your home comfortable by automatically adjusting your temperature settings while you are asleep or away, saving you about $100 per year.

3. Consider zoning. In a typical two-story home, the upstairs can be up to 10 degrees warmer than the downstairs. One solution to help regulate uneven temperatures is a temperature control system that divides the house into separate zones, like those offered by Aprilaire.

These systems use multiple thermostats and dampers in the heating and cooling duct work that control temperature in separate areas to deliver conditioned air only to the part of the house that needs it.

4. Install a ceiling fan in the largest room of your house. This will allow you to lower the setting on your air conditioner by 3 to 6 degrees, which will save up to 25 percent of energy costs of home cooling.

In addition, you can save over $125 annually by replacing three old-style light bulbs with modern fluorescent twisters; setting your heat at 68 degrees in the winter and your air conditioner at 78 degrees in summer; and unplugging three appliances - or switching off a power strip full of plugs - when not in use.

By: Rick Young



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