Winter on a Budget
February 22, 2016
Sometimes, the best way to reduce your energy consumption is to use a little Yankee ingenuity. While winter’s cold temperatures can affect your heating bill, a few simple low- and no-cost actions can help offset the increased energy demands of your home.
Concentrate on keeping your home warm and comfortable
Old New England homes are charming, but the drafts that slip around outdated windows and doors can leave their residents cold. Focus on finding the air leaks in your home, then develop a plan to combat them. This can be as simple as using draft dodgers or plastic wrap kits that cost less than $20, or can include a more thorough examination by means of a Home Energy Assessment through Mass Save and taking recommended corrective actions. You can also determine how your house is currently performing right from your kitchen table by taking an online energy assessment.
Why not enlist Mother Nature to help heat your home? Natural sunlight can help heat rooms with south-facing windows – just make sure you leave your drapes open, and that those windows are clean and clear for the sun rays to enter. Close your curtains and shades at night to protect against cold drafts. Also, if a window doesn’t receive sunlight during the day, keep the draperies closed.
Programmable thermostats are another great option for controlling temperatures throughout the day, giving you the power to set lower temperatures while you’re away at work and increase them to your desired level when you’re about to return home. If you’re in the market for a new thermostat, remember to consult Mass Save before you buy to ensure you’re eligible for a rebate of $25 (for a programmable thermostat) up to $100 (for a Wi-Fi thermostat).
Have greater control over your water heating
No matter how you heat your water, it still is one of the most energy-intensive activities in your home. Cut energy wasted heating water unnecessarily by checking the settings on your water heater to ensure they are not set above 120°F, the recommended setting by the U.S. Department of Energy. Settings above 120°F not only use more energy to heat the water, but are also unsafe, creating the risk of scalding. Check your manufacturer’s guide for information on how to change the setting of your water heater.
When you wake up in the morning, do you like to turn on the shower and while waiting for hot water, get ready for your day? Showerheads with thermostatic shut-off valves help ensure your hard-earned money (and hot water) don’t run down the drain. These showerheads turn off the outward flow of water once it reaches a specific temperature, until you are ready for the shower. Mass Save offers discounted pricing for showerheads.
Use appliances more efficiently
Even energy-efficient appliances can use some help to ensure they’re operating at peak performance. When washing clothes, wash in cold water. It uses less energy and puts less wear on your clothes. Also be sure to use energy saving options when using the dishwasher or clothes washer. Their energy savings are worth the extra 5-10 minutes of operation.
Snowed in? Spend 15 minutes to clean the coils of your fridge. It’ll help it operate more efficiently. Consider spending an additional 15 minutes to ensure your fridge and freezer are stocked the best way possible.
If you have a manual-defrost freezer, a good winter project is completing the recommended annual defrost. Put your food in a cooler and place it outside to have Mother Nature keep food cold while you improve operating conditions for your freezer.
Look at your lights for quick and easy savings.
There’s never been a better time to switch to LED lighting. LED bulbs are less expensive than ever and come in a range of warm tones perfect for cozy winter nights. Remember to look for the ENERGY STAR® for the best quality and check the Mass Save online store for great deals on just about any bulb you need.
Simple lighting controls, like countdown or pneumatic timers, can cut energy use further and cost less than $10 online.
Reevaluate how you manage your electronic use.
Enabling the power management setting on your electronics, especially computers, costs nothing and can save you $50 annually. Similar energy saving modes exist on flat-screen televisions, tablets, and other devices, but are not enabled when shipped from the factory. A quick look into your products’ manuals to enable power-saving settings can really pay off.
Don’t forget that many electronics continue to consume energy when they are not in use. Advanced power strips, like those you can purchase from Mass Save for under $10, reduce energy consumed by electronics when they are turned off.
We hope that these low- and no-cost ideas will help you reduce your energy use this winter while enjoying your time indoors.