BY PAT KEEGAN AND BRAD THIESSEN
With a new year, it’s a perfect time to begin new projects and set goals for the months ahead.
If you’re looking for ways to save energy at home and lower your monthly bills, these simple steps can help you get organized and start an achievable path to saving energy.
Step 1: Gather information
Begin by reviewing your 2020 energy bills. Knowing how and when you use energy can help you decide how ambitious your plan should be. If you have questions about your past bills or energy use, give your electric co-op a call – they’re available to help you understand your energy bills. Your co-op may also offer a free app that can show you exact data about your home energy use.
Next, visit your electric co-op’s website to see if it offers additional assistance, like energy improvement rebates, free energy audits or other special rates and programs. Because of COVID-19, some restrictions may apply to in-home visits, so you can also try an online energy audit like energystar.gov’s Home Energy Yardstick.
Step 2: Develop a plan
With the information gathered, it’s important to develop a plan. If your priority is cutting energy costs, you can select the measure that will deliver the most savings. Maybe you’re already planning to do work on your home, such as roofing or renovating, and you can incorporate energy efficiency strategies into that project. To complete your plan, you’ll likely need to check with local contractors or suppliers about costs.
Step 3: Take action
Now that your planning is done, it’s time to take action. If you’re tackling any major energy efficiency projects that require a contractor, remember to do your research and hire a licensed, reputable professional.
In addition to energy efficiency projects and upgrades, there are other ways you can get organized to save energy:
- Replace filters regularly. A clean filter can improve the performance of your heating and cooling system, and reduce the electricity needed to pump air through your ductwork. Filters should be replaced every month if you’re using an inexpensive filter, or every three months if you’re using a higher-quality filter. A better filter will do a better job and last longer.
- Program your thermostat. Heating and cooling your home account for the most energy use, so setting your thermostat to match your lifestyle can make a major difference. If you don’t have a programmable or smart thermostat, get in the habit of manually adjusting your thermostat throughout the day or setting it to the most energy efficient setting when you’re away.
- Label the circuits in your breaker box. It may not reduce your energy use, but it’s an easy way to get organized and will save a lot of headaches down the line!
We hope by taking a little time to complete these steps, you’ll be well on your way to a more energy efficient 2021!
Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency write about energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.