Save on Your Power Bill this Winter

IMG_20140605_110431339Winter weather is right around the corner, as are electricity price increases. Here at CET, we know a few things about how to help people save energy and reduce costs. On Wednesday, October 15, Energy Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett visited EcoBuilding Bargains, our reused building materials store, to talk about how people can reduce their energy costs this winter. Here’s the media coverage:

Tips for Homeowners Mark Newey, building scientist at the Center for EcoTechnology, says that people in the region can take action now to keep warm and save money:

  1. Install energy efficient lighting. Lighting accounts for the second highest use of power in your home. LEDs offer the best lifetime economic value because they are extremely efficient and have a much longer lifespan. They work well in cold weather, dim with ease and are ideal for directional lighting. They also have the lowest operating cost, so you’ll see instant saving on your electric bill. CFLs are also a good option for fixtures that might not get as much use.
  2. Use smart power strips to turn off all of your unused electronics.
  3. Set the temperature back at night and when you aren’t home: If you have programmable thermostats, set them to automatically lower the temperature when you are sleeping or when no one is home.  The more you set the heat back the more money you will save.  Sometimes you hear that you shouldn’t set the temperature back because it will take even more heat to bring it back up to temperature – don’t believe this!  Keeping your house cooler some of the time saves energy in almost all cases – the only exception is an electric heat pump, which requires specialized thermostats to avoid using extra energy when reheating the house. Even radiant floor heating systems and steam heat systems will benefit from setting back your thermostat, you just need to allow them more time to adjust by changing the thermostat set point several hours before you want the temperature to arrive at a new setting. You can also get wifi thermostats that allow you to control the heat from any internet connection or smart phone – this is a great option if your schedule is unpredictable and you want to be able to adjust the temperature wherever you are.  Learn more
  4. Air seal your attic and basement: Air sealing involves foaming and caulking gaps and cracks in your home, especially those in hidden places.  Often, hidden places have very large gaps and cracks because no one has ever looked there before!  Examples include in between walls of your house, closet ceilings, staircases to attics and basements, and walls to attic spaces.  If you are eligible, get a Mass Save energy assessment and have a professional contractor air seal for greatly reduced cost.  It is very important for an experienced person to do the air sealing in order to get the full benefit.  Learn more
  5. Insulate and weatherstrip attic accesses: Warm air escapes your home through openings to the attic, and this includes attic accesses.  Attic accesses are often overlooked because the focus is on the places where cold air comes in rather than where the warm air escapes.  However, attic accesses can be some of the biggest holes in your house!  Insulate attic hatches with 6” or more of rigid foam board and be sure they close snugly.  Sometimes you will need to add latches or hooks to pull and hold the panel closed.  If you have a pull-down staircase, you will need to cover it with an insulated box.
  6. Button up your windows: If you have single-paned windows, install storm windows.  Use rope caulk or film plastic to make sure air doesn’t leak through the window.  Consider insulated blinds/curtains but be aware that only curtains that seal against the window will give you much benefit, and its important to let the sun shine through during the day to get free solar heat.

 

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