10 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill

National Cut Your Energy Costs Day is Jan. 10. How will you celebrate? Walton EMC urges you to learn ways to cut your energy use and save money.

It is often the little things that can save you big money on your electric bill, advises Walton EMC’s Rigs Santos.

“Even simple, inexpensive actions can result in significant energy savings,” he said.

Santos and Jeff Paul, both residential energy advisors for the co-op, have compiled a top 10 list of easy, cost-effective strategies you can put into practice on Jan. 10 — and every day — to save electricity, save money and stay comfortable this winter.

&nnbsp;    1. Start with a DIY audit.

An easy way to identify energy wasters in the home is to perform a short, do-it-yourself audit. Walton EMC offers the online audit tool Home Energy Saver as well as some short how-to videos to help. In less than 5 minutes, you can determine how much energy your home uses, where it’s losing energy and which problem areas and fixes you should tackle.

     2. Do your homework.

To give you a leg up on energy knowledge, Walton EMC has compiled a list of common electric appliances in the home and how much electricity each uses. Take a minute to scan the list, and start paying attention to the little ways your electricity consumption adds up. Then, look for ways to conserve power where and when possible.

     3. Lower water heater temperature.

Water heaters account for about 12 percent of an average home’s energy use, consuming more energy than all other home appliances put together. Turning down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F) can save you as much as 22 percent on your energy bill. If it’s time to replace your water heater, save money on the purchase price by using a rebate offered by Walton EMC.

     4. Schedule a heating system checkup.

Did you know that tuning up your heating system could save up to 10 percent on your electric bill this winter? If you failed to do it in the fall, make an appointment now to have your heating system inspected by an HVAC professional who can spot air duct leaks, intake blockages, mechanical failings, electronic failings and more. BONUS: If it’s time to replace your system, don’t forget that Walton EMC offers attractive rebates for electric heat pump purchases.

     5. Focus on filters.

An unchanged air filter means your HVAC system will work harder or run longer, and – you guessed it – use more energy. Keeping your air filter clean and in good condition could save you up to 15 percent on electricity costs. Check your filter monthly and replace as recommended by the manufacturer.

     6. Adjust the thermostat.

Heating and cooling typically account for about half of an average home’s utility bills. Simply adjusting the temperature when you aren't at home or at night is a smart way to maximize savings. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates you'll save 1 percent on your electric bill for every eight hours you lower the thermostat by one degree in winter.

Use a programmable thermostat to customize your heating/cooling schedule. Or, install a smart thermostat for even more energy-saving options that let you control your HVAC system from anywhere with your smartphone.

     7. Dodge the drafts.

Drafts can waste 5 to 30 percent of your energy use, say DOE energy experts. One of the best ways to lower your winter energy bills is to seal the leaks with easy-to-install weatherstripping and caulking. Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings and unfinished spaces behind cabinets and closets. Find out how to detect air leaks

     8. Slay the vampires.

Energy vampires  — appliances and devices that use electricity even when they’re off — suck up roughly 10 percent of the electricity used in the average home. Some of the biggest energy suckers are set top boxes, video game consoles, microwave ovens and battery chargers. The average household has at least 25 energy vampires plugged in at all times, the DOE estimates. Even apartment dwellers can cut their average energy bills by turning off and unplugging unused electronics and small appliances.

     9. Opt for LEDs.

Replacing conventional bulbs with LED alternatives can add up to significant savings. Residential LEDs — especially Energy Star-rated products — use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than their incandescent counterparts, according to DOE research.

     10. Replace energy-guzzling appliances.

Has your fridge fizzled? Is your dishwasher dead? Then consider this: Major home appliances – including clothes washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers – account for about 20 percent of the average home’s monthly electric bill. When it’s time to replace them (especially those over a decade old), choose ENERGY STAR certified models to dramatically reduce that percentage. For example, Energy Star refrigerators use 50 percent less energy than those manufactured 15 years ago and 15 percent less than fridges without the efficiency rating. January is an excellent time to shop for major appliances because stores are offering deep discounts on last year’s inventory to make room for 2020 models.

You don’t have to wait for National Cut Your Energy Costs Day to conserve electricity and reduce your electric bill. Check out Walton EMC’s electric consumer blog for more energy-saving ideas you can use all year long.

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