Each month, New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) offers you the chance to Ask the Energy Expert. Got a question about energy efficiency or renewable energy? Send your question to: EnergyExpert@nullNHEC.com and get answers from the Co-op Energy Solutions team.
This month’s Energy Expert is Phil LaMoreaux. Phil is the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program Administrator at NHEC.
Q: I made a New Year’s resolution to reduce my home energy usage by 10% in 2013. Is this possible, and how can I do it without spending a lot of money?
A: It’s definitely possible, and it probably costs less than you think.
Anyone looking to save energy at home should start with the easy stuff, or low-hanging fruit, as we like to say.
If you still have those old incandescent light bulbs in your home, do yourself a favor and replace them with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) or LED lights. CFLs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last seven times longer. Each incandescent bulb you replace with a CFL will save you about $6 per year.
A programmable thermostat will allow you to keep your home at a comfortable temperature when you are at home and active, and at a more efficient temperature when you are away or asleep. Setting your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours per day can save you at least 10% on your home heating costs.
The efficiency of a particular appliance and how often you use it will determine what kind of savings you can realize in this area. Typically, the energy savings associated with replacing appliances is small compared to the overall cost of the appliance, so it only makes sense to replace them at the end of their useful life.
This is a great opportunity to upgrade to an ENERGY STAR appliance with better efficiency. ENERGY STAR appliances use 15% to 30% less energy.
Also, the way you use your appliances can affect how much energy you use. Try to follow simple tips like using the microwave to reheat smaller portions, using the right size stove burner, using the “air dry” option on your dishwasher, and not over-drying your clothes.
Use power strips to turn off “vampire” power when not in use. Unplug battery chargers or power adapters when not in use or when equipment is fully charged. Use power management features on computer, monitors, printers, and fax machines.
Homeowners who are willing to invest a little more on energy efficiency can achieve home energy savings well beyond 10%. Your home may be eligible for an energy audit through NHEC’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. Participants receive a comprehensive energy audit and a list of recommended efficiency measures like air sealing, additional insulation, and lighting upgrades, the cost of which can be offset by incentives up to $4,000 from your Co-op.
More information about this program can be found at NHEC.coop or by calling 800-698-2007.