The start of the new school year for kids means cooler weather is just around the corner! The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting another wicked cold winter, with our area getting cold, wet, and white…yikes!
Since winter is often the time when energy bills are the highest, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite energy saving tips to help keep you comfortable without breaking the bank this season. Keeping your electrical system safe is important, especially when snowstorms threaten to knock out power (and with it, heat!), so read up and remember: for all your electrical service needs in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, call Kolb Electric!
Heat Pump Energy Saving Tips
If you use a heat pump to heat and cool your home, you probably already know that they’re among the most efficient HVAC systems you can install—if you use them correctly.
During the winter, set your thermostat to the lowest setting you’re comfortable with and keep it there for the whole season—the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends 68 F, but ultimately this is up to you. Every degree you set the thermostat lower will lower your energy use, so if you like to bundle up, this is a great way to save!
Most heat pumps come with a backup heating system to give you a little extra heat if the pump itself can’t make it. Unfortunately, electrical resistance heat is very inefficient and can get expensive if you use it too often. This electrical backup kicks on when you turn your thermostat up, which is why it’s best to set your thermostat once during the winter and then leave it there.
The one time when you should adjust your thermostat is when you’re leaving the house for a few days—the backup heat will kick on when you come back and set it back up, but the amount you save from being gone should offset that.
Furnaces, Geothermal, and Other Heating System Energy Saving Tips
With any other form of heat, you’re free to adjust the thermostat as needed throughout the day. Again the DOE recommends 68 F as a balance between comfort and efficiency, but you may want to set the thermostat lower during the day when you’re not home and higher when you are home (a programmable thermostat makes this easy!).
If you’re going to be away and want to set the thermostat down, don’t go lower than 55 F. If your home gets too cold, your pipes could freeze and create a very messy situation for you when you return!
Whatever type of heating system you use, make sure you keep your filters fresh all season. Change them about once a month during times of peak heating system use. Just keeping on top of this can save you as much as 10 – 15 percent on your monthly energy bills!
Water Heater Energy Saving Tips
Your water heater is usually the second largest energy consumer in your home, next to your heating system. Saving money on your water heating is not too complicated:
Fix all leaks when they happen! Even what looks like a small leak can waste hundreds of gallons of water per month—all of which you still have to pay for.
Take showers instead of baths. A normal shower uses about half the water of a bath, which also means less water heater needs, lower sewer costs, etc.
Use a flow restrictor to maintain water pressure while minimizing the amount of water use.
Don’t let the hot water run when doing dishes, shaving, or brushing teeth.
Space Heater Energy Saving Tips
Like a heat pump’s backup heater, a space heater uses electrical resistance heat that can be expensive to operate. That said, they can be useful to heat small areas like the bathroom for short periods of time. In fact, it can be much cheaper to use a space heater in the morning than to raise the temperature in the whole house for a short period of time.