As a Peoples customer, there are many ways that you can save money on energy.
When it comes to using energy wisely, don't forget the outside of your home.
- Take this test: If a playing card fits the crevice of an outside door or window, you need more weather stripping. Caulk and weather-strip to stop air leaks around windows, doors, exhaust fans and any other place where wires or pipes pass through walls. Replace any caulk that has cracks or is no longer soft.
- You can install storm and/or replacement windows, but they may not be the best use of your energy improvement dollars because of their high cost and long payback. A low-cost alternative is 6-mil plastic, which you can use to "make" storm windows. Be sure to stretch it as tightly as you can. If you use these homemade storm windows on the inside of your regular windows and attach them carefully, they can last through several seasons. You can also find homemade kits at home improvement stores.
- Keep out winter air by covering your window air conditioners tightly on the inside with thick plastic or special air conditioner covers. Weather-strip around the units to block drafts.
- Cover bare ground beneath your home with a vapor barrier to keep moisture from getting into your home. Polyethylene sheets work well. Since a third of your air conditioner's energy is spent removing moisture, vapor barriers can make a noticeable dent in your energy bills.
- If you have a crawlspace, open your foundation vents each spring and close them each fall.
- Planning to replace your roof? Consider roofing materials with reflective coatings and/or choose light-colored roofing to greatly reduce heat absorption.
- Carefully plan your landscaping to help to reduce your energy costs and increase indoor comfort.
- Plant deciduous trees like oak, maple, gum, ash and dogwood. They lose their leaves in the winter, letting the sun through to warm your home. In summer, their leaves shade your home. Plant shade trees to the south, since that side gets the most sun.
- Evergreens are effective for blocking wind. Plant them in a staggered or double line to the northwest of your home.
- Smaller foundation plants can minimize the loss of cool air away from the house in summer and, in winter, provide additional wind protection.
10 Tips to Save Money and Keep Cool This Summer
1. Raise your thermostat to 78 degrees.
- This is the number one way to conserve energy.
2. When you are away from home for more than eight hours, raise the thermostat setting and you can expect to see a 1% savings for each degree of setback.
- This will reduce the amount of energy used to cool your home while you're away. You can learn more about your thermostat online by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.
3. Keep shades closed when the air conditioner is on.
- Sunny windows account for 40% of unwanted heat and can make your air conditioner work two to three times harder.
4. Check and clean filters.
- Cleaning and replacing air conditioning filters monthly allows the system to run more efficiently.
5. Install ceiling fans.
- Don't underestimate the importance of ceiling fans. Moving air over the body provides a cooling effect. The use of ceiling fans can mean savings of around 25% on cooling costs and can make the temperature seem 10 degrees cooler.
6. Make sure ceiling fans are blowing down.
- Most fans have a switch to change the fan direction. Make sure ceiling fans are blowing downward (in a counter-clockwise direction) to send air past your body.
7. Run appliances with large energy use late in the evening.
- Use the dishwasher and clothes washer late in the evening. When used during the day, these appliances produce additional heat, causing your air conditioner to work harder.
8. Use cold water to wash dishes and clothes.
- This will save on water heating costs.
9. Unplug equipment not in use.
- Electric chargers, televisions and audio/video equipment use electricity and produce heat even when they are not in use. Running an older refrigerator can use up to three times the energy of a modern one. Unplug any appliance when it's not in use.
10. Turn off lights.
- Turn lights off when exiting a room. Consider replacing incandescent bulbs with energy efficient compact florescent lights (CFLs). And remember to recycle CFLs whenever possible.
10 Ways to Save on Winter Heating Bills
1. Seal duct work.
- This is the number one way to conserve energy. Make sure that all ductwork is sealed at joints and intersections with duct sealer or silicone caulk. Otherwise, supply ductwork can leak heated air into the attic or crawl space, and outside air can be drawn into the return ductwork, increasing costs and reducing comfort dramatically. Ducts can be sealed using foil-backed tape or silicon caulking.
- Check heating ducts for cracks, holes or separations at joins. This is especially important where ducts pass through unheated garages, crawl spaces or attics. Repair leaks with adhesive tape or a more durable tape designed especially for repairing heating ducts (available at hardware, discount or department stores). Sealing and insulating ducts and pipes could reduce fuel usage from 2 to 15%.
2. Seal air leaks.
- Seal all holes from pipes and wires that enter/exit the living space. This includes entrances, pull-downs and attic stair openings, light fixtures, pipes and wires. Attic entryways should be weather stripped and insulated.
- Caulk cracks between window frames or door frames and walls, both inside and outside the home. Press putty into smaller cracks seal larger crevices with a caulking gun.
- Seal cracks in chimney and foundation bricks and mortar. Caulk where foundation bricks meet the house siding.
3. Seal off fireplaces.
- Never use a fireplace as a heat source for your home. Even as a supplemental heat source, the cold air introduced to a warm home through an open flue isn't as efficient as sealing off a fireplace and using the primary source of heat. For natural gas fireplaces, turn off the pilot light when not in use. Seal off the fireplace area or the flue area to prevent cold air from leaking in. (Note: Building codes in some areas require that the damper in your chimney to be permanently blocked open if you install gas logs. Please check the building code for your area for the appropriate procedure.)
4. Lower the thermostat.
- In the winter, set the thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees during the day and to 58 degrees at night or when away from home for several hours. If you have a heat pump, make sure to slowly increase the temperature to avoid running the emergency heat. You can learn more about your thermostat online by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.
- Keep the thermostat set at the lowest possible comfort setting during the day and set it back at night. Setting the thermostat back at night for a period of eight hours or more will reduce the heating consumption by approximately one percent for each degree below the daytime setting.
5. Lower water heater to 120-125 degrees.
- Many water heaters are automatically set at 140 degrees. Lowering the temperature on your water heater to between 120 and 125 degrees will reduce the amount of fuel needed to heat the water.
6. Change furnace filters every month.
- This is the number one reason for furnace breakdowns. Inspect heating and cooling equipment annually, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Have a professional check, clean, and tune-up furnaces once a year.
- Check furnace air filters once a month during the heating season. If they become clogged, clean or replace with new filters and save 2 to 5% in fuel costs.
- When it is time to replace the natural gas furnace, consider a new high efficiency gas furnace. New gas heating systems are as much as 30% more energy efficient.
7. Weatherstrip doors and windows.
- Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window needs sealing. Air leaks can be sealed with caulking or weather-stripping.
- Make sure the garage door has a reasonably tight seal around the bottom edge. Remember to weather-strip around doors that lead to the attic and garage. Caulking and weatherstripping doors and windows could reduce fuel usage by as much as 7 to 10%.
- Also consider installing storm windows and doors. A less expensive alternative is to cover windows with clear plastic, which can be purchased in rolls. If the home does not have storm windows and doors, as much as 6 to 10% of the heat might be lost to the outside.
8. Add insulation.
- You should insulate the first 3- to 6-feet of cold and hot water pipes near the water heater. Insulating all hot water pipes is not necessary where pipes are located in a crawlspace or attic.
- Wrapping the water heater with an insulation blanket can save heating money by slowing the drop in temperature from the hot water tank as it sits unused. Inexpensive insulation kits are available at most home improvement stores.
- Add insulation to attic.
- When adding insulation, start at the top and work down only after eliminating air infiltration.
- Any insulation will help reduce heat loss, but adequate insulation in the ceiling is most important. Ceiling insulation and attic vents could reduce fuel usage by up to 20 to 30 percent.
9. Make small changes inside your home.
- On sunny days, open shades, draperies and blinds to let the sun help to heat the home. Close blinds and draperies block radiators or heating ducts. Fuel consumption could be reduced by 3 to 7%.
- Close the vents/registers and doors in unused rooms and save up to 8% of the heat.
- Install a humidifier. It will keep the home at the proper humidity level and keep everyone comfortable at lower temperatures.
- If the house has radiators, vacuum all surfaces including hard-to-reach areas once a month. Do not use radiators as shelves.
- Arrange furniture with the heating system in mind. Don’t restrict air flow from registers or cold air returns. Position furniture away from drafts.
10. Do not open and close outside doors needlessly.
- Reduced traffic means warmer, draft-free home.