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Make your home more energy efficient

Posted January 14, 2015 in Advice Column, Windsor Heights

The typical household spends $2,100 each year to heat, cool, and illuminate their homes. But reducing energy bills doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.  By making some smart changes in your energy usage, you can have a big impact on your utility bills.

  • Skip pre-rinsing dishes. It’s good to scrape food off before putting dishes in the dishwasher, but there’s no need to rinse them. You’ll save up to 6,500 gallons of water per year.
  • Replace furnace air filters often. A dirty air filter can make your furnace work harder and use more energy. Replace the filter every two to three months.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs can last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. LED bulbs are mercury-free and may last three to five times as long as CFLs.
  • Insulate water heaters and pipes. Covering your water heater with an insulated water heater blanket can help retain heat, so the unit uses less energy to heat hot water.
  • Seal doors and windows. Install door sweeps at the bottom of your front and back doors to keep heat from escaping. Remove old window caulk and apply a fresh seal to retain heat in your home.
  • Clean air ducts. Keep your air ducts clean to improve air flow and reduce stress on your furnace and central air conditioner.
  • Upgrade your thermostat. A programmable thermostat can save you over $100 a year on your energy bill.
  • Install low-flow toilets and showerheads. Toilets consume up to 40% of a home’s average water use. Using low-flow toilets can save more than 9,000 gallons of water a year. A low-flow showerhead only uses 1.5 gallons per minute while conventional showerheads use 5 gallons per minute.
  • Install ceiling fans. For summer use, ceiling fans can cool a room more efficiently than an air conditioner. For winter use, most ceiling fans have a reverse switch so that their blades force heated air down from the ceiling.
  • Replace leaky windows. Replace single-glazed windows with low thermal emissivity (Low-E) windows to reduce heat transfer and keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Insulate walls and attic. Heat escapes through the walls and attic of homes. Blown-in foam insulation can be a very cost-effective way to seal walls. Replacing old attic insulation with fresh fiberglass cover can reduce your heating bills.

Information provided by Matt Cale, State Farm Insurance, 6733 University Ave., Windsor Heights, 280-9000.

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