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News and Resources

Saving Energy And Money During Winter - December 14, 2014

If the weather outside is frightful this winter, then you might find yourself staying inside for more time than you would like. With prevailing cold winds and drizzly conditions occurring frequently on Delmarva, staying at home with the heating cranked up or sitting next to a roaring fire is awfully appealing. However, the more time you stay inside, the larger your electricity and power bills tend to get, and with natural gas prices projected to rise this winter, electricity and power bills could be bigger than ever. There are, however, a few simple tips and tricks home and business owners can use to save electricity and money as we progress into the coldest months of the year.

     One simple thing that every home or business owner can do to save a lot of money this winter is to switch to more efficient lighting. As the days grow shorter, people tend to leave their lights on for longer periods of time then during the summer, which increases electricity consumption without people realizing it. Reports show that on average, nearly 10% of a households energy bills come from simply lighting your home. Replacing the traditional incandescent bulbs around the house or office with compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lights can save energy and money. On average, people save more than $16 a year per 100 watt incandescent bulb they replace with a compact fluorescent bulb. Compact fluorescent and LED lights also have longer lifespans compared to traditional incandescent bulbs and will save you money in the long run by minimizing the replacement of burnt-out bulbs

     Another simple way to be a bit more wallet and eco-friendly is to replace the old Christmas and holiday lights with new LED ones. Give yourself an early holiday gift and splurge a bit on some good quality LED lights and you could save money, time and hassle for years to come. Incandescent and fluorescent lights are initially cheaper, however the bulbs have a much shorter lifespan and must be disposed of carefully. LED lights last much longer, use less electricity, and can be disposed of just like any other piece of electronic equipment because unlike their outdated counterparts, they contain no gasses or harmful substances.

     Heating the house or office is one of the biggest expenses on electricity and power bills during the fall, winter and early spring months. There are lots of different heating options for your house or office; Indoor and Outdoor heating systems, wood or pellet burning heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, space heaters and more. Regardless of the type of heating system used in your home or office, the best thing to do to save money is to make sure it your system is up-to-date and is properly maintained. Old or broken systems can be ineffective, harmful to the environment or human health, and cost you hundreds more than you might otherwise need to pay over the course of a year. Research ways to keep your individual heating system energy efficient and safe; such as replacing your furnaces filter every month, or when needed depending on use.

     Make sure to adjust the temperature of your heating system as well. If someone is home or in the office, try to keep the temperature down as low as comfortable. Wear sweaters, jackets, hats and blankets to keep yourself warm without using more electricity or energy. When you are asleep, or no one is in the office, turn the thermostat down by 10 to 15 degrees for a few hours. Doing this for eight hours a night can help to save around 10% a year on your heating, cooling or power bills. Investing in a programmable or “smart” thermostat that can self adjust the temperature can save you money on your power or heating and cooling bills for years to come.

     Even adjusting the temperature on your water heater can save money as well. Water heating can account for anywhere between 15% to 25% of the energy consumed by your household. By turning your water heater down to the “warm” setting, approximately 120 degrees, you can save energy and stop scalding your hands with boiling hot water to boot.

     Heat loss from your home or office is another cause of high electricity and power bills. Both heat being lost from your house or office, and cold air entering through leaky doors, windows or other openings could decrease the overall effectiveness of your heating system and end up costing you extra money. Search your walls, ceilings and entry ways for drafts or leaks and seal them. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal up drafty doors or windows. Seal up gaps around chimneys, recessed lighting, outdoor pipes and unfinished areas around your house that might let out warm air or let in cold air.

     All of these simple tips and tricks can help to save you time, money and hassle during the cold and dark winter months. By doing these simple things, staying inside during the winter becomes less of a drain on our environment, and our wallets.

 

Harrison Jackson is the Coastal Stewards Coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

 



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