By Kristerfer Burnett
CHAI:Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.
With summer behind us and fall in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about how to reduce those rising energy bills. You know … the bills that you are too afraid to open so you leave it on the table for a few days? During the fall and winter months energy costs often double for the average household, causing many of us to tighten our budgets.
But, you can start saving energy now! Here are a few tips from our friends at the Baltimore Energy Challenge that you can use to save energy, save money and live sustainably:
Switch to Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)
CFLs use much less energy than traditional bulbs and last about six times longer.
Turn Down the Thermostat and/or Install a Programmable Thermostat
You can save over $200 a year by simply turning down your thermostat three degrees. Installing a programmable unit can make remembering to do this even easier!
Wrap and Turn Temperature Down on Hot Water Heater
Purchasing an insulating jacket for your hot water heater can produce valuable energy savings. Most of the cost associated with operating a hot water heater is maintaining the temperature of the water when it’s not in use.
Get Low-Flow Showerheads
Installing low-flow showerheads can reduce water consumption by as much as 70 percent. In addition, you’ll use less energy heating up the water.
Turn Stuff Off and Use Powerstrips to Do It
Many electronic devises draw energy when they are not in use, simply by being plugged into the socket. Be sure to plug as many of them as you can onto a powerstrip and be sure to turn it off when you aren’t using them.
Wash Laundry Using Cold Water and Line Dry Your Clothes
You can reduce your energy cost per load by 90 percent if you use cold water to wash laundry. Also, drying machines represent as much as 12 percent of the cost on your energy bill! If you can, install a retractable line to hang them outside to dry on nice days.
Increase Refrigerator Efficiency
Reduce energy use and efficiency of your refrigerator by cleaning the coals, semi-annually. These are often located underneath the unit.
Maintain Your Heating System
About one-third of your annual household energy costs are associated with your home’s heating system. Be sure to have it maintained regularly so that you can save on your heating costs.
Insulate and Air Seal Your Home
The majority of the homes in Baltimore allow cool air and heat to leak out. Weatherizing your home using window plastic and other easy-to-install tools can do a lot to prevent leakage.
Educate Your Family Members and Neighbors
Sharing these tips is a great way to get members of your family and neighbors to join you in reducing energy consumption!
Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc. (CHAI) and The Associated are working on a few new initiatives to reduce your household’s energy consumption and help you save money. On October 6, 1 – 4 p.m., you’ll have the opportunity to learn more at the Northwest Energy Expo. It’s being held at The Myerberg Center.
Many key non-profits and businesses from the energy industry will discuss behaviors and practices that reduce energy consumption and help you save money. This wonderful event will feature break-out sessions on topics such as the “ins and outs” of having an energy audit done in your home, the benefits of home energy retrofits and tips on small things you can do around the house to conserve energy.
Finally, if you reside in the five Northwest neighborhoods that CHAI serves (Glen, Fallstaff, Cheswolde, Mt. Washington, Cross Country) you’ll have an opportunity to apply for the new interest-free Energy Savings Loan, which allows you to borrow either $5,000 or $10,000 for energy-related home renovations.