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Winter time energy-saving tips .........

fast & free. Cutting back unnecessary energy use is an easy way to keep your hard earned money in your pocket. Here are some suggestions you can do at home, at absolutely no cost to you.

Turn down your thermostat. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you'll save up to 5% on heating costs. Wear warm clothing and set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the day and evening, health permitting. Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees or off at night or when leaving home for an extended time saving 5-20 percent of your heating costs (heat pumps should only be set back five degrees to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heating).

Eliminate wasted energy. Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Unplug that spare refrigerator in the garage if you don't truly need it - this seemingly convenient way to keep extra drinks cold adds 10-25% to your electric bill. Turn off kitchen and bath-ventilating fans after they've done their job - these fans can blow out a house-full of heated air if inadvertently left on. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning to prevent up to 8% of your furnace-heated air from going up the chimney.

Reduce hot water temperature. Set your water heater to the "normal" setting or 120º, unless the owner's manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Savings are 7-11% of water heating costs.

Shorten showers. Simply reducing that lingering time by a few minutes can save hundreds of gallons of hot water per month for a family of four. Showers account for 2/3 of your water heating costs. Cutting your showers in half will reduce your water heating costs by 33 percent.

Use appliances efficiently. Do only full loads when using your dishwasher and clothes washer. Use the cold water setting on your clothes washer when you can. Using cold water reduces your washer's energy use by 75%. Be sure to clean your clothes dryer's lint trap after each use. Use the moisture-sensing automatic drying setting on your dryer if you have one.

Put your computer and monitor to sleep. Most computers come with the power management features turned off. On computers using Windows 98/ME/2000 open your power management software and set it so your computer goes to sleep if you're away from your machine for 5 to 15 minutes. Those who use Macintosh computers look for the setting in your Control Panels called "Energy Saver" and set it accordingly. When you're done using your computer, turn it off (see next tip) do not leave it in sleep mode overnight as it is still drawing a small amount of power.

Plug "leaking energy" in electronics. Many new TVs, VCRs, chargers, computer peripherals and other electronics use electricity even when they are switched "off." Although these "standby losses" are only a few watts each, they add up to over 50 watts in a typical home that is consumed all the time. If possible, unplug electronic devices and chargers that have a block-shaped transformer on the plug when they are not in use. For computer scanners, printers and other devices that are plugged into a power strip, simply switch off the power strip after shutting down your computer. The best way to minimize these losses of electricity is to purchase Energy Star® products.

inexpensive energy solutions. Every home is different. With a quick trip to your local hardware store, you have even more choices at hand.

Replace or clean furnace filters once a month. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy use. Keep you furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted. Savings up to 5% of heating costs.

Choose Energy Star® Products. Replace incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star® compact fluorescent light bulbs, especially in high use light fixtures. Compact fluorescent lights use 75% less energy than incandescent lights.

Plug your home's leaks. Install weather-stripping or caulk leaky doors and windows and install gaskets behind outlet covers. Savings up to 10% on energy costs.

Install low flow showerheads. If you do not already have them, low flow showerheads and faucets can drastically cut your hot water expenses. Savings of 10-16% of water heating costs.

Wrap the hot water tank with jacket insulation. This is especially valuable for older water heaters with little internal insulation. Be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered when insulating a gas water heater. Savings up to 10% on water heating costs.


Good energy saving investments:

 Do you need any new appliances, or are you planning to do some remodeling? Consider these energy efficiency suggestions before you purchase.

Choose Energy Star® appliances and electronics. When buying new appliances, choose Energy Star®-certified models. For example, a new Energy Star®-refrigerator uses about 20% less energy than a standard new refrigerators, and 46% less than one made in 1980. A new Energy Star® clothes washer uses nearly 50% less energy than a standard washer.

Install a programmable thermostat. If you have a heat pump, select a model designed for heat pumps. Setback thermostats can save up to 15% on energy costs.

Increase ceiling insulation. If your ceiling is uninsulated or scantily insulated, consider increasing your insulation to up to R-38 to reduce heating costs by 5-25 percent.

Seal ducts. Leaking ductwork accounts for more than 25% of heating costs in an average California home. Consider hiring a contractor to test the tightness of your ducts and repair leaks and restrictions in your duct. Many utilities have programs to assist you.

Consider replacing your old furnace with an Energy Star® furnace. New furnaces are available that use 20-30% less energy to heat your home than older models.

High efficiency windows. If you are planning to replace your windows, choosing Energy Star® windows can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15 percent.

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