The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts energy prices will continue to increase by about 3.3% in 2023. This is after an increase of just over 7% so far in the year 2022. As we are heading into the fall/winter seasons and kicking on our heaters, let us look at some ways to help reduce energy use in our homes.
Keeping your home warm
Check insulation levels. Ensuring adequate insulation in the attic, walls, and around your basement or foundation can help keep heat in during the winter.
Use thermostat setbacks. Turning down the thermostat when you are not at home or when you are sleeping can help you save. For every eight hours your thermostat is turned down one degree, you can save 1%. That might not sound like much, but it can add up quickly.
Let the sun heat your house for free. Open drapes or shades that can allow direct sunlight into the house throughout the day, and then close them at night. This will allow the sun to heat your home and trap the heat in after the sun goes down.
Managing your energy usage when home
Turn off appliances when they are not being used. Appliances still draw energy when they are not off or in standby mode. Turning them off can prevent them from drawing any unnecessary energy. You can also look into buying energy efficient appliances next time you are ready to replace them. They might be a little more expensive initially, but they can save you money in the long run because they take less energy to operate. Use smaller appliances when possible. Toasters, microwaves, electric pressure cookers, and slow cookers use much less energy than an oven.
Wash only a full load of dishes or laundry. It takes just as much power to run your dishwasher or washer for a partial load as it does for a full load. When doing dishes, you can also skip the dry cycle and allow your dishes to air dry. Use cold water with cold-water detergent to wash clothes.
Set the temperature of your electric water heater to 120°F. If you are leaving the house for a long period of time, like visiting your family for the holidays, turn off your water heater. You do not need to have hot water in the house when you are gone. Install an insulated blanket on your hot water heater. While these blankets cost some money up front, they can help raise the hot water temperature in pipes between two and four degrees, allowing you to have a lower setting on the water heater. It can also reduce wait times for hot water at the tap, which also saves water.
Finding Energy Assistance and Audits
Colorado is very fortunate to have several programs through the Colorado Energy Office, Colorado Department of Human Services and local energy companies. One of these programs is the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) that can help eligible Coloradans save money, stay comfortable and use less energy in their homes. Another program is Colorado Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). The LEAP program can assist qualified applicants with paying a portion of their home heating costs. Finally, many local utility cooperatives as well as larger companies will provide an energy audit for a nominal fee.