Energy-Saving Tips for Winter
As the mercy of fall’s milder temperatures begins to give way to those unpredictable winter months, United Cooperative Services wants to make sure its members are equipped with the knowledge to maximize their energy efficiency.
Using energy efficiently has multiple benefits. It paves the way for you to remain comfortable in your home and—the bigger bonus—it allows you to do so while saving you money. As we all use less energy (especially during peak usage hours), the demand for kilowatts drops, providing more stability to the supply resources in Texas.
The three biggest barriers to becoming more energy efficient include lack of knowledge, lack of resources and limited capital.
United has a variety of resources to help members overcome these barriers. We'll even come to your home and find areas where you literally may be throwing money out the window. Members can sign up for a free home energy audit here.
What happens during an energy audit? Watch this.
A short cold snap causes most heating systems to reach capacity and energy efficiency drops. That’s why it can cost more to stay comfortable when it suddenly turns colder or hotter – even if it’s just for a few days. That can lead to sticker shock when the energy bill arrives.
Heating and cooling accounts for the largest portion of a home’s energy usage. A geothermal heat pump can reduce energy consumption by more than 70 percent compared to electric-resistance heating.
Air-source heat pumps also are significantly better on the wallet when compared to electric resistance heating. An air-source heat pump can deliver 1.5 to 3 times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes.
Even if you don't heat your home with a heat pump, other simple and cost-effective tricks can reduce energy use this winter.
Give these a try and watch your usage drop.
- Set your thermostat to 68 degrees. Your heating system will operate less and use less energy. For each degree above the recommended setting, energy consumption will increase by about five percent. For a small investment, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat to adjust the home's temperature settings automatically when sleeping or away. United offers a $50 rebate to residential members who upgrade from an analog mercury thermostat to a programmable digital thermostat.
- Set your water heater to 120 degree. Anywhere from 14 to 20 percent of the total energy used in a home can be attributed to heating water. Ensure faucets aren’t leaking, wash clothes using cold water when applicable, and take showers instead of baths. For a small investment, install a water heater blanket if the unit is in an unconditioned area, such as the garage. Consider investing in high-efficiency showerheads and faucets to reduce hot water consumption. Several of these items are available at no charge to the members if they have United conduct a free home energy audit.
- Take advantage of Mother Nature. Use natural light and heat by opening drapes, blinds and shutters during the day. At night, close them to help retain that heat.
- Keep your air filters clean. Check HVAC filters every month. A dirty filter will reduce airflow and won’t allow a unit to operate as efficiently. It could also promote service problems with the unit. Don't forget that members can get HVAC filters at steep discounts.
- Switch to CFLs or LED light bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs are four times more energy efficient than incandescent bulb and also provide the same lighting. Some CFLs are available at no charge to the members if they have United conduct a free home energy audit. LED lights are even more efficient than CFL bulbs, and they are considered to have a longer life expectancy.
- Weatherize your home. A tube of caulk goes a long way in providing an effective and inexpensive way of reducing energy loss. Use caulk to seal up holes and cracks around your home. Don’t forget about the weather stripping around doors, windows, and the attic opening.
- Insulation. Members can see significant savings by having 17 inches of blown fiberglass insulation or 10 inches of blown cellulose in the attic to reach the optimal level of insulation value of R-38.
- Use ENERGY STAR® appliances. Remember items such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, furnaces, TVs and computers have two price tags—purchase price and lifetime energy cost. Invest wisely. Read the yellow energy use cards typically attached to appliances and select for energy efficiency.
- Call us for more savings. To help members reach their energy innovation objectives, United has secured discounts with local vendors who agreed to participate in the cooperative’s Co-op Connections Card program. Members can locate a service company to do anything from installing attic insulation to performing a HVAC tune-up at a discount just for being a member of the cooperative. To learn more about United’s vast array of energy innovation programs, including rebates, contact your local United office today.