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Fall into Energy Savings

Looking to lower your electricity bill this fall and winter? As the clocks “fall back” this week, takes steps to fall into energy savings.  The price of heating your home can add up quickly, but use these easy, energy-efficient tips to cut costs and keep warm!

Adjust your thermostat -  during fall and winter months, it is recommended that you set your thermostat at 68°. If you are comfortable with cooler temperatures, then aim for the lowest possible setting when you are at home.  When asleep or not at home, you should adjust your thermostat 10° to 15° lower than normal, with a potential savings of 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills.

Consider investing in a programmable thermostat to set your preferred temperature when at home or away. Make sure your thermostat is located away from direct sunlight, drafts, doorways, skylights, and windows in order to get an efficient temperature reading.

Insulate your windows – during cooler months, heat loss through windows can account for 10-25% of your energy bill!  Use insulating drapes or curtains to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Draperies help to reduce heat exchange or convection and are most efficient when hung as close as possible to a window.  You can also utilize energy from the sun to naturally heat your home. For example, open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight in. At night, close curtains and blinds to retain heat and reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. You should also do this for windows that do not receive direct sunlight.

Seal air leaks – first, detect air leaks throughout your home where heat may be escaping. Look for cracks, fractures, and gaps in areas such as electrical outlets, door frames, window frames, pipes, and window air conditioning units.  Seal air leaks using these tips. Some easy, DIY methods include installing a foam gasket to prevent drafty electrical outlets, caulking cracks and gaps, and installing weatherstripping around exterior doors to reduce drafts and retain heat.

Reduce heat loss from your fireplace and chimney – make sure to close the damper in your chimney flue when the fireplace is not in use. If the chimney flue remains open, warm air will rise and escape. Due to escaped heat, you may set your thermostat even lower to offset your heat loss, resulting in you spending more money on your electricity bill.

You can also purchase a chimney pillow, also known as a fireplace plug or chimney balloon. This chimney pillow is a large plastic bag that is inflated to block airflow through a chimney, so that air cannot escape or enter the interior of the house. Sometimes, closing the damper does not completely stop drafts, so you can use this chimney pillow whenever the fireplace is not lit.  Check that your fireplace hearth is sealed against cracks. Cracks and fractures may develop in the mortar of the bricks which may contribute to heat loss. Use caulking to fill in these gaps as stated above.

Switch to energy efficient lighting -  Switch from inefficient incandescent light bulbs to CFLs for an inexpensive way to reduce your electricity bill. Upgrading 15 traditional light bulbs could save you about $50 per year.  If you live in an apartment or condo, you could recommend AIRE’S Lighting Rebate program to your property manager. Through this program, Arlington County Government is offering rebates to commercial customers for certain lighting installations and retrofits.  This rebate program provides an opportunity for customers to save energy and money through lighting upgrades.

Avoid energy vampires by turning off appliances when they are not in use or plugging them into a power strip that cuts off the flow of electricity when turned off.

Lower your holiday lighting costs by using LED string lights instead of incandescent lights. There are numerous advantages to LED lights like durability, long-life, and decreased risk of household fires. Some types of ENERGY STAR®-qualified decorative light strings can be found here.

 

By: Ali Minarcik

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