As the winter months approach, most of us tend to see a spike in our energy bills. There are a number of things you can do around the house that may help reduce some of those higher costs, some of which may actually prevent losses from occurring as well. Here are a number of ways you can save yourself some money, prevent possible claims from occurring and keep you and your most prized possessions safe as well:
- Lower the temperature of your water heater by turning it down to the warm setting (120° F). You’ll save energy and avoid scalding your hands.
- Check if your water heater has an insulating blanket. If not, consider purchasing one to insulate your water heater and conserve energy.
- Review strategies to reduce your water heating bills. Water heating can account for 14-25 percent of the energy consumed in your home.
- Survey your incandescent lights for opportunities to replace them with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs can save 75 percent of the electricity used by incandescent lights. The best targets are 60-100 watt bulbs used several hours a day.
- Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms or consider installing timers, photo cells or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
- Turn off your computer monitor when not in use for more than 20 minutes. Turn off both the central processing unit (CPU) and monitor if you’re not going to use your computer for more than two hours.
- Unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use. For example: cell phone chargers, fans, coffeemakers, desktop printers and radios.
- Open the curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Clean or replace the filters in your furnace, air conditioner and heat pump.
- Use rope caulk or film to seal leaky windows, especially in the winter.
- Assess your heating and cooling systems. Determine if replacements are justified or whether you should retrofit them to work more efficiently in order to provide the same comfort (or better) for less energy.
- Collect your utility bills. Separate electricity and fuel bills and target the largest energy consumer or the largest bill for energy conservation measures.
- Insulate your hot water pipes to prevent heat loss.
- Insulate heating ducts in unheated areas, such as attics and crawl spaces. Keeping ducts in good repair can prevent heat loss up to 60 percent through the heat registers.
- Seal up the largest air leaks in your house—the ones that whistle on windy days or generally feel drafty. The worst culprits are not usually windows and doors but utility cut-throughs for pipes (also known as plumbing penetrations), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
- Install a programmable thermostat that can be adjusted to temperatures according to your schedule (such as turning down the heat while you are at work during the day). Look for Energy Star® labelled thermostats when replacing your system.
- Schedule an energy audit for more expert advice on your home as a whole. Ask your utility company or state energy office for more information.
- Schedule professional maintenance for your furnace or heat pump every year. Heating can account for almost half of the average family’s winter energy bill.
- Insulate. If your walls are not insulated, have an insulation contractor blow cellulose into the walls.
- Replace aging, inefficient appliances—especially check the age of your refrigerator. Even if an appliance has a few years left, replacing it with a top-efficiency model is generally a good investment.
- Upgrade leaky windows. Replace them with energy-efficient models or boost their efficiency with weatherstripping and storm windows. The typical home loses 25 percent of its heat through windows.
- Upgrade your computer and monitor. Consider replacing your desktop computer with a notebook computer and docking station and your cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor with a liquid crystal display (LCD) or LED monitor.
As always, if you have any concerns or questions regarding ways to keep your home safe from any elements, please feel free to give our office a call and talk to any of our licensed insurance professionals.
Meredith Ferry, Account Sales Executive