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BED is happy to help our customers break down your energy bills to find cost effective energy efficiency improvements.
BED offers free on-site energy audits for all customers and incentives for many kinds of improvements. We also lend appliances meters so that you can measure the usage of various appliances in your home.
Home Heating and Cooling
Heating typically is the largest energy expense in the home. If you haven’t had your heating system inspected – and tested for combustion efficiency – in the last two years, call a qualified inspector now. Your system should be as safe and energy efficient as possible.
- A 1 percent savings for every one degree you turn your thermostat down over an eight-hour period can add up to very big savings on your energy bill. If you set the thermostat back three degrees over a 24-hour period you'll save 9 percent right off the bat.
- Setback (timed) thermostats will set the heat lower when you want it cooler and raise it when you want it warmer. And unlike a person, it always remember to do it. You’ll notice the savings right away.
- If the heat in your house circulates unevenly, don’t run out right away and buy an electric space heater for the cold spots. These heaters can be huge drains on your electric bill, and often there is a better way to solve the problem. Here are a few things to check:
- Are your windows and storm windows intact and properly shut – including the basement windows?
- Check all the doors especially the attic door or hatch.
- If you have a hot air furnace, be sure that the heat registers and cold air returns are not covered by rugs or furnishings.
- Make sure that the adjustment dampers in the ductwork are set properly. If you don’t have cold air returns in each room, your interior doors should be undercut at least 1” to allow for proper flow out of the room.
- Remember to clean the furnace air filter regularly to help improve airflow
- If you have a hot water heating system with modern baseboard radiators, be sure that the airflow dampers (the movable metal flaps) are open sufficiently to allow an air current to naturally flow over the fins in the radiator.
If these steps don’t produce the desired results, have an experienced heating system technician check the whole system.
- Air conditioners should be properly maintained by ensuring that they are fully charged and the filters are clean.
- Only run the AC when you are home. It costs much more money to keep your home cool all day long than it does to turn it off when you are out.
- If you have central air conditioning, ensure the ductwork is free of air leaks and is well insulated.
- Take advantage of free air conditioning on cool nights by opening your windows. On hot, sunny days, close your windows and shades during the day. Your homes’ insulation keeps heat in during the winter and can also keep heat out during the summer.
If you are planning to buy a new room AC unit or install a central AC system, please give BED’s Energy Services specialists a call at 865-7362 or 865-7337. We can provide you with a number of buying and installation tips, and provide you with a current list of the most energy efficient models available.
Are you planning to replace those old windows in your home with the expectation of realizing huge savings on your energy bills? Before making such a large investment—especially if your only goal is to reduce your energy bill—consult with an unbiased energy specialist. Our only job is to advise, not to sell products.
Using proper diagnostic tools and techniques, an energy specialist can determine where the most significant heat loss is occurring. Often times, houses lose much more heat through hidden gaps in the building envelope than through the windows and doors.
If you decide to install the insulation yourself, there are a few simple tips that can make a very big difference in the outcome.
- The most common error made is adding insulation in open attic spaces before first sealing the major air leaks from the house. Insulation in open attics does not stop air leakage.
- The second error is not insulating the space completely. Missed areas (like attic hatches or stairwells) and/or gaps and voids in the insulation can greatly reduce the effectiveness. Also, be very careful, and follow all instructions, when insulating around chimneys and recessed light cans.
- Moisture control, ventilation and safety requirements should be considered when selecting an insulating material. All insulation materials require careful installation to get the desired results.
Winter can be tough enough without the hassle and expense of freezing pipes. Some buildings are much more prone to this than others, and the reason generally is that outside air leaks into the building bathing the pipes with cold air. If you stop the cold air from coming in you will almost always prevent freezing.
The Burlington area has several weatherization contractors who are expert in locating and sealing air leakage in all types of buildings. This is a good investment especially if you are using an electric space heater to keep the pipes thawed; these big energy guzzlers can cost about $3.50 each day to run.
Hot water is a major source of energy consumption in our homes, typically second behind space heating costs, so it can provide us with an excellent opportunity to reduce our bills.
- Use an add-on tank instead of a stand-alone tank when the water is heated by natural gas, propane or oil.
- BED will wrap customers' tanks and install free efficient shower heads and faucet aerators. Savings are about $75 per year. Cold-water clothes washing cycles, low-flow shower heads and faucets can greatly reduce your bill.
Please do not wrap gas or propane hot water tanks – the wrap may block the airflow to the burner which can create a hazardous condition.
- If you are washing in warm or hot water, stop. Use cold water. Unless you are trying to remove grease stains, cold water will get your wash just as clean for a lot less money than hot water.
- If you have electric hot water, ask us about current rebates to switch to natural gas. Using natural gas hot water to wash your clothes will generally be 45 percent lower than with electric. Still, the best way to save is by using cold water.
- Check out Energy Star-qualified models and rebates through BED and Efficiency Vermont. These machines can cut water usage by 1/3 and energy consumption by 60 percent if you wash with hot water. You will need less detergent, and they are much gentler on clothes. The rebate is currently $50.
First and foremost, make sure your dryer exhaust vent is clean. At least once a year, you should disconnect the vent pipe and clean out the lint. While this may only save a small amount on your utility bill, it could prevent your house from burning down. It's a safety hazard to have a clogged dryer vent.
Plastic dryer vents are a potential fire hazard. If you are replacing a dryer or just the dryer vent, buy a rigid aluminum pipe vent. It will last indefinitely; it's much safer; and the smooth pipe walls allow for more efficient airflow and fewer surfaces on which to catch drier lint.
- Switch to a natural gas dryer. It costs about 50-cents for each (45 minute) dryer load using electricity or propane, and about 25-cents per load for natural gas. The average family does about 22 loads of laundry per month so a natural gas dryer could save about $5.50 per month or $65 per year. BED currently offers a $100 incentive to switch existing electric clothes dryers to natural gas dryers.
- When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. Not only will this save energy, it will save wear and tear on your clothes.
- The solar dryer (also known as a clothesline) is the least expensive of all. If it is hot and sunny, a clothesline can dry your clothes faster than a dryer. Using a clothesline can save the average family between $10 and $20 per month.
The kitchen is a well-used room in most homes and a place where lots of energy can be saved. Here are some tips:
- When possible, use a microwave instead of a conventional oven. It uses half the electricity.
- Use cold water to operate the garbage disposal. It saves energy and helps dispose of grease better.
- Put a pan on a burner before you turn the burner on. Also make sure pans have flat bottoms and tight-fitting lids.
Purchasing a second-hand refrigerator may look like a good buy initially, but it is wise to look at the life-cycle cost. The average pre-1990s 18-cubic-foot refrigerator will consume about $1,500 to $2,000 worth of electricity during the course of its 20-year life! Energy Star-labeled refrigerators use about 60 percent less.
- Often, it is less expensive on a monthly basis to purchase a new product that has high efficiency and finance it for two or three years than buying a much less expensive energy guzzler. The savings on the electric bill can offset the monthly finance charge.
- Check the "power saver" switch. Many refrigerators have small electric heaters built into the walls to prevent sweating during hot and humid periods. These heaters just make the refrigerators work that much harder. Unless you have noticeable condensation during the hottest part of the summer, keep the switch on the energy saving setting and save about $2.50 per month.
- A full freezer will use less energy than a partially full one. Plastic jugs filled with water work great to fill in the empty space.
- The refrigerator compartment should be between 36F and 38F and the freezer between 0F and 5F. Keeping temperature ranges 10F lower than recommended can increase energy usage by as much as 25 percent. Place an outdoor thermometer in the refrigerator before bedtime and then recheck the temperature first thing in the morning.
- Keep the coils underneath free of dust as dust acts as insulation and makes it work harder. A vacuum with hose attachments can remove a lot of the dust.
Televisions & Media Centers
Just so TV viewers don’t have to wait a minute or so for the TV to warm up, the standby power, which is often 20 to 30 Watts, is being used all the time mostly when the TV is off. Unlike the intermittent use of most appliances, standby phantom loads are running 24/7. Phantom load in the United States costs consumers $3 billion a year. It is an easy place to start saving.
- Energy Star rated TVs have lower power consumption when they are on or off.
- An advanced power strip makes it easy to turn your entire media center off when you are not watching TV.