If you are looking for ways to cut utility costs and reduce your monthly bills, energy conservation is one way to start.
Some tips to help save energy include:
* Have adequate insulation. Insulation is measured in R-values. The higher the R-value the more the walls and roof will resist the transfer of heat. In our area (southeast Nebraska) the recommended R-values should be: attics R-39; walls R-18; floors R-25.
* Check windows and doors for air leakage. Weatherstrip and caulk these areas to reduce problems.
* Have furnaces and air conditioning systems checked annually by a professional.
* Change furnace filters every three months, more often if needed.
* Install a programmable thermostat or set the thermostat at 68 to 72 degrees in the winter and 78 to 80 degrees in the summer. By turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours you can save 10 percent or more a year on your heating bill.
* Use ceiling fans to help circulate air –- set them to run counter clockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter.
* Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which are more efficient and provide the same lighting. One standard bulb costs about $4.80 a year to operate and 1 fluorescent bulb about $1.20 a year to operate.
* Turn off lights in rooms not being used.
* Disconnect unneeded and unused equipment. Unplug cell phone and other chargers when not in use as they continue to use energy as long as they are plugged in.
* Turn off computers, printers, and other appliances when not in use.
* Use mastic UL 181 approved foil-based duct tape (not regular duct tape) to seal joints or seams and repair any gaps or holes on pipes. Mastic, found at wholesale and retail heating and cooling businesses, can be brushed onto the seams.
* Clean the lint filter from the clothes dryer after every load. Clean more often if drying heavy items, such as towels.
* Look for the EnergyGuide labels and the Energy Star logo when buying new appliances. These are more efficient units and will save water and energy.
* Run the dishwasher when it is fully loaded. Use energy-saving settings such as the drying cycle. Run at non-peak energy usage times.
Do an energy check with your family and see which steps you can take to reduce energy use.