It’s safe to say winter has arrived! While people appreciate the change of season, the arrival of cooler temperatures means higher energy costs will soon follow causing an increase in household expenses. Spare the expense and save yourself from unwanted stress this year by following these energy-saving tips from your local service provider:
■ Set thermostats between 65 and 70 degrees during the winter and at 58 degrees when away from the home for more than a few hours.
■ Install a programmable thermostat for your heating and cooling system.Lowering the thermostat between 10 to 15 percent for eight hours a day, may cut annual heating bills by as much as 10 percent per year.
■ Change or clean furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Furnaces consume less energy if they “breathe” more easily. Use receipt of your natural gas bill as a reminder.
■ Lower the temperature of the hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s an efficient and comfortable temperature setting and should not interfere with the operation of your appliances – and can lead to 14 percent savings on utility bills.
■ Use registers to direct warm air-flow across the floor.
■ Close vents and doors in unused rooms. Also close dampers on unused fireplaces.
■ Install water-flow restrictors in showerheads and faucets.
■ If radiators are located near cold walls, place a sheet of aluminum foil between the radiator and wall to reflect heat back into the room.
■ On sunny days, open draperies and blinds to let the sun’s warmth in. Close them at night to insulate against cold air outside.
■ Use power strips to plug in your appliances. Turn the strip off when the appliances are not in use to prevent using unneeded energy.
■ Turn off your home electronics such as a computer and monitor when not in use. Or, if you use your computer off and on all day, activate the sleep or hibernate options to be more efficient.
■ Swap your light bulbs from incandescent to compact florescent bulbs. While more expensive initially, they use less energy and last longer than traditional bulbs, saving you in the long term.
■ Take a shower instead of a bath.
■ Purchase appliances that are labeled Energy Star—they meet strict guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Here are a few simple tips to remember when operating household appliances such as a washer and dryer, refrigerator and dishwasher:
■ Use a front loading washing machine. This type of washing machine has higher capacity, meaning you can do fewer loads and use less energy. Also, look for one with an automatic load size sensor – to save water and energy – and make sure it has an Energy Star label.
■ Use cold water instead of warm or hot water when washing clothes
■ Separating loads of laundry prevents discoloration and fading or bleeding. It also saves energy. Separating heavier materials from lighter ones helps clothes dry more efficiently.
■ Proper maintenance helps your dryer work efficiently. Clean its lint filter regularly and check the hose and vent for blockages.
■ Using a dryer’s moisture sensor will prompt the machine to automatically shut itself off when it senses the clothes are dry, saving electricity costs.
■ Use an outdoor clothing line to hang your clothes instead of using the dryer, if weather permits.
■ Keep your fridge full—there is less empty space to cool—but don’t overfill it as that obstructs air flow and makes the fridge work harder to maintain its temperature.
■ Keep food and drinks covered as the moisture from them can cause the compressor to work harder. Don’t store hot food right away—let it cool so it doesn’t raise the temperature and make your fridge work harder.
■ Clean the coils behind your fridge regularly and make sure they are dust free to improve air flow.
■ Air-dry dishware rather than using the dishwasher’s heated drying setting.
Efficiency rebates and conservation incentive programs have been put in place to help consumers save money, lower energy costs and sustain the condition of our environment.
For more information on how to conserve energy or for details on the rebates and conservation incentive programs offered by Atlantic City Electric and South Jersey Gas, visit www.atlanticcityelectric.com and www.southjerseygas.com.
Compiled by Victoria Williams