Simple ideas to save energy, money

As you gear up for the cold, there may be actions you can take to reduce your energy usage. By far, the simplest way to stay energy efficient this winter is by managing your electrical usage. October is Energy Awareness Month, and the Fort Campbell Energy Team wants to offer some tips to homeowners anxious to save money on energy bills:

• Use a microwave instead of an oven. Microwaves use less than half of the power of a conventional oven and cook food in about one-fourth the time. Ovens also heat up the kitchen, making your cooling system and refrigerator work harder.

• Postpone doing laundry and dishwashing until nighttime to avoid peak-electric use hours. Hang laundry outside to dry.

• Use the air-dry feature on dishwashers.

Service air conditioners annually and be sure the air conditioner is the right size for the area. Change the filter regularly. Choose an air conditioner with the Energy Star label when buying a new one.

• Turn thermostats up to 78 degrees in the summer and down to 68 degrees in the winter or use a programmable thermostat. Close doors to unused rooms. Consider using an “unoccupied” setting for heating/cooling systems when no one is home.

• Use an attic fan to draw hot air out of the attic. Use a whole-house fan to draw fresh air in through windows and exhaust it out of roof vents.

• Use ceiling fans to circulate air.

• Install skylights to reduce electricity use during daytime hours.

• When replacing roofs consider light-colored roofing materials that can prolong the life of a roof and will reduce a home’s cooling costs.

• Install double-pane or low-E windows with a sun-control coating.

• Choose light colors for walls, ceilings, floors and furniture when redecorating, which will naturally brighten a room.

Finally, ordinary maintenance also can help make your home more energy efficient. Gaps around the plumbing that connect to the house from the outside can be sealed with expanding foam, which comes in convenient, easy-to-use cans. Cleaning or replacing the air filter once a month maximizes the efficiency of the heating system, as does cleaning out ducts, warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators.