The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

January 3, 2013

Be aware of energy usage when temps are low

WASHINGTON — Decreasing winter temperatures correspond directly to increasing energy bills as homeowners and renters crank up their thermostats. But there are simple ways to help keep the thermostat - and electric bill - dialed back, according to Washington Municipal Utilities Office Manager Anita Ash.

“The easiest thing, and the cheapest, is light bulbs,” Ash said. “Change out the incandescent bulbs to CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.”

Energy Star rated CFL bulbs use 75 percent less energy and last six to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs, according to a WMU information sheet. Though CFL bulbs cost more initially, Ash said they save an estimated $30 over the bulb’s lifetime.

“The second thing would be a programmable thermostat,” she continued. “People will say ÔI have my furnace on 68.’ But if it’s extremely cold outside, it’s still gonna run.”

If a programmable thermostat is not in the budget, Ash said dialing the thermostat back when no one is home, then back up again only when someone is in the house, will help save money. Also turning the heat down at bedtime, when everyone is tucked in under the covers, is suggested. Setting the thermostat back two degrees around the clock is estimated to save about 5 percent on the heating bill.

“When the sun goes down, close the curtains to keep warm air in,” Ash said.

“When air is dry it takes more energy to heat, so if you use a humidifier that helps.”

She said the energy used by the humidifier isn’t enough to counter its positive effect.

If a resident has gas heat that gets turned off in the winter, she said it’s not effective - or safe - to use space heaters and ovens for heat.

Other tips from WMU include:

* Turn lights, appliances and electronics off when they’re not in use. Unplug power adapters and cell phone chargers when not in use. Ash said these items, and even lamps, continue to pull some electricity when plugged in but not in use. 

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