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Ron Graber
Ron Graber is the member services and communication specialist for Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative. He is a trained energy auditor, and provides advice on energy efficiency, conservation and renewable generation. Ron can be contacted at rong@heartland-rec.com.
2011-06-01 11:08:00
Saving money on monthly utility bills
Answer: Being efficient is good for everybody. It helps consumers keep utility bills manageable, it helps utilities avoid buying expensive power when prices are highest, and it helps ensure that our children have a clean planet with adequate resources. And becoming more efficient doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Water Heating: Set water heater temperature no higher than 120 degrees F. For households with 1 or 2 members, a 115 degree F setting may work fine. Install water-heater wrap per manufacturer’s instructions. Drain 1 - 2 gallons from bottom of water heater each year to reduce sediment build up. Install heat traps on hot and cold water lines when it’s time to replace your water heater. Insulate exposed hot water lines. Install low-flow shower heads. Laundry: Wash clothes in cold water. Use hot water only for very dirty loads. Do only full laundry loads. If you must do smaller loads, adjust the water level in the washing machine to match the load size, especially when using hot water. Always use cold-water rinse. Make sure that the outdoor dryer exhaust door closes when dryer is off. Check that the dryer vent hose is tightly connected. Dry consecutive loads to harvest heat remaining in dryer from last load. Kitchen: Clean refrigerator coils annually. Use microwave for cooking when possible. When cooking on the range, use pot lids to help food cook faster. Let hot food cool before storing it in the refrigerator. Lighting: Replace any light bulb that burns more than one hour per day with its equivalent compact fluorescent bulb. Use outdoor security lights with a photocell and or a motion sensor. Heating & Air Conditioning: Run ceiling paddle fans on medium, blowing down in summer, blowing up in winter. Change HVAC filters monthly. Caulk along baseboards with a clear sealant. Caulk around plumbing penetrations that come through walls beneath bathroom and kitchen sinks. Caulk electrical wire penetrations at the top of the interior walls. Close shades and drapes during the day to help keep heat out during summer. Ensure attic access door closes tightly, and is adequately insulated. Use weather stripping generously on windows and doors, around window A/C and between the middle of the top and bottom pane of windows with window A/C units. Ensure floor registers are not blocked with rugs, drapes or furniture. Ensure your outdoor heat pump/air conditioning unit is kept clean and free of debris. Outside your home, caulk around all penetrations including telephone, electrical, cable, gas, water spigots, dryer vents, etc. Install 15 minute, springwound timers on bathroom ventilator fans. Keep your garage door down. A warmer garage in the winter and cooler garage in the summer will save energy.
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