Q: With the weather warming up, I want to be sure my utility bill doesn’t do the same. Last year it was very high, and I don’t want to pay that much this year. Do you have any tips on saving energy?
A: Better Business Bureau and the federal Energy Star program recommend:
Turn down your water heater – Water heating can account for roughly 15-25 percent of a home’s energy use. Set your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. This will reduce the amount of energy it takes to produce and maintain your hot water by not overheating it.
Wash and dry efficiently – Water heating can make up 90 percent of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer. To save energy, use the cold water setting, wash only full loads, lengthen the spin time to reduce drying time, don’t overstuff the dryer, and clean the lint trap to improve air circulation and increase the efficiency of the dryer.
Update your lighting – Replace your incandescent bulbs with energy efficient ones. Energy Star-certified CFL or LED bulbs use about 70-90 percent less energy, and last 10-25 times longer.
Power down – Turn off or unplug any appliances, lights and electronics when not in use. The best way to do this is to plug everything into a power strip, that way you can just flip the switch and turn it off. According to Energy Star, it is estimated that standby power accounts for more than $11 billion in annual U.S. energy costs.
Use a programmable thermostat – When used properly, a programmable thermostat can help you save energy when you are sleeping or away from the home. Use the pre-programmed energy-saving set points as a guide, setting the temperature up in the summer, to save roughly $180 every year in energy costs. Also, turn your air up if a ceiling fan is keeping you cool, and don’t run your air if the windows are open.
Utilize drapes and blinds – To help keep the heat out of your home, close the window shades and drapes. Glass windows without proper shading allow between 75-80 percent of transmitted solar energy through, where blinds allow only 0-5 percent.
Use other means to cool your home – Try utilizing your ceiling fans, or open a window instead of running your air conditioner or HVAC system.
Also, if your budget allows it, install a whole house fan. A whole house fan pulls cool air from open windows and exhausts it through the attic and roof. This will cool your house down much faster than a fan or open window, and can be used throughout the summer. Just be sure a professional installs it, as they can be noisy if improperly installed.
For more energy saving tips, visit energystar.gov.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.