Inside Spaces: Saving Money on Energy

Keeping your thermostat set at a certain level, and checking the caulking and weather stripping on your doors and windows are two of the major ways to save money on heating costs this winter.

Knowing at what temperature to set your thermostat is what officials with the say is probably the biggest way to save on your energy bills, at least in the short term.

Residents with electric heating systems should keep their thermostats set at 68 degrees in the winter and to a set-back temperature 3 to 5 degrees cooler when not at home. Setting a thermostat at 63 to 65 degrees and then turning it up to 68 degrees when arriving home will not use more energy than leaving it set at 68 degrees all day, said Tamara Brock with the .

“If it’s set at 68 all day, then it’s running all day,” Brock said. “If you’re gone eight hours, even if it’s running an hour to get it to 68, that’s an hour it’s running opposed to seven.”

And, that could be important if this winter ends up being as cold as last.

“If we have another cold winter, it could be running all day to stay at 68,” Brock said.

If your house runs on gas heat, the set-back temperature is around 58 degrees, and thermostats should not be set higher than 65 degrees in the winter said Michael Hill with the .

“The higher you set your thermostat, the more fuel you’re going to use,” Hill said. “That doesn’t matter if it’s electric or gas.”

For long-term savings, it’s important for residents to check the caulking and weather stripping on their doors and windows, which not only can let heat out but also can let cold air in, Brock said.

“People would be surprised at what that can save them,” she said.

An easy way to tell if you need caulking or weather stripping is to see if sunlight is visible through the crack on the side of the door.

“If you see daylight, that’s an energy-wasting spot right there,” said Hill.

Changing your air or furnace filters regularly also will help keep your bill lower, officials said.

“If you’re not moving the air, you’re not going to have the heat transference that you want to have,” Hill said.

Other energy-saving tips include insulating walls, attics and floors; keeping hot water heaters set at 120 degrees; washing clothes in cold water; opening your curtains during the day to utilize sunlight and closing them at night to keep in heat; purchasing energy-saving models of furnaces and hot water heaters when it’s time to replace them; and keeping the damper in your fireplace closed when the furnace is operating.

“If you have your damper open, it could be pulling your heat out of your home because that’s what it’s designed to do,” Hill said.

To find other ways to save on energy costs, a Home Energy Calculator on the website enables residents to input information, such as home square-footage and number of bedrooms, as well as how many electronics are present in the home and what the thermostat is set at to calculate energy use costs.

“That’s a really cool thing,” Brock said. “It’s easy, and it’s free on our website. It’s just a good way for [residents] to look at some areas where they can improve.”


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