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A Calendar of Energy Saving Tips

Terry Webster
Office of Energy Security, MN Department of Commerce

Summer

  • Keep cool and save with a ceiling fan. But turn the fan off when leaving the room. A ceiling fan only cools people, not the room.
  • Use window fans properly. Place them on the cool side of the house blowing in. Fans blowing to the outside, as well as attic and whole-house fans, can create dangerous backdrafts.
  • Save while you sleep. ENERGY STAR programmable thermostats save energy and money without sacrificing comfort.
  • Get a Super-Saver switch. Many utilities offer a peak demand discount program. By controlling some appliances, they avoid more expensive electric generation and you receive up to 15% off your electric bill.
  • Tighten your ducts. Gaps between duct joints are common in a home, whether new or old. Save up to 10% on bills by having ducts inspected, sealed, and insulated.
  • Control indoor humidity. Low humidity is cooler Set your dehumidifier to between 45% and 50% and make sure the coils are clean and the drain operates. If you have a model without a humidistat, consider replacing it with an ENERGY STAR model.
  • Keep the sun out. Use blinds, drapes, and awnings. Plant trees to provide maximum summertime shading—east and west sides are best.

Fall

  • Do preventative maintenance. Schedule an annual tune-up and adjustment for your furnace, water heater, air-exchanger, air-conditioner, and other mechanical systems.
  • Inspect windows and doors. Check for gaps in caulking and weather stripping and damage to glass or frames.
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts. When debris blocks gutters, rain and snow have no place to drain but down the side of the house. This can lead to damaging moisture at the foundation.
  • Rebalance heat registers. Redirect the airflow on your forced-air furnace from the summertime pattern (more air to higher parts of the house) to the winter pattern (more air to lower parts). Close registers in unused rooms. Keep registers and returns clear of furniture or drapes.
  • Bleed radiators. When you first fire up your system, bleed the radiators or baseboard units to ensure efficiency. Clean and dust to allow for proper heat transfer.
  • Get outlet strips. Many electronic devices (TVs, DVD players, computers, printers, battery chargers, and more) continue to use electricity when turned off.
  • Replace or clean filters. Unrestricted airflow optimizes efficiency.

Winter

  • Get an energy audit.
  • Install a programmable thermostat.
  • Examine your lighting. We use lighting most in winter, and it is a good time to really look at how we use lights.
  • Keep snowdrifts at bay. If snow blocks the intake or exhaust of furnaces, water heaters, air-exchangers, or other equipment, it can lead to problems ranging from inefficient to dangerous. After each storm, do a quick check to make sure everything is clear.
  • Wrap leaky windows.
  • Take advantage of the sun. In winter, allowing the sun in during the day reduces the need for heating—and it doesn’t cost a penny! Close blinds and drapes at night to limit heat loss.
  • Give energy for the holidays. Paying a utility bill for a relative or friend or donating to the Salvation Army’s HeatShare program could help someone stay warm this winter. Gifts of CFL bulbs, programmable thermostats, low-flow shower heads, and even furnace inspections, can show your concern for energy saving—and for the well-being of the recipient.

Spring

  • Do a walkabout. When the weather warms, walk outside your house and note anything needing repair or replacement. Look at siding, windows, doors, gutters, foundation, and locations where wires, pipes, etc., enter the walls. Use binoculars to see the roof, chimneys, vents, and flashing. Note anything that is chipped, cracked, broken, separated, or simply doesn’t look right. Pictures can help contractors or store clerks determine the next steps.
  • Plan your landscaping. Slope soil away from buildings and limit foundation plants to annuals or small perennials; shrub and tree roots can damage foundations and hold water near the house.
  • Clean your air conditioner.
  • Install a rain barrel and composter.  
Act Locally

Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security,
www.energy.mn.gov

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