12 Days of Energy Efficiency

We’re all familiar with the 12 days of Christmas. Not to come across as a Grinch, but how useful is a partridge in a pear tree, really? One French hen seems like enough, if we’re being completely honest. In this sensible spirit, we decided to share 12 simple actions you can take to conserve energy and ensure maximum savings this holiday season.

  1. Conduct a home energy assessment.

We love sharing DIY tips for our motivated, industrious residential members. But even the most enthusiastic and crafty members can benefit from a professional opinion every now and again. To help you identify ways you might be losing money by losing energy, your Energy Advisor can provide a professional opinion on how you can improve efficiency — and point you toward programs and incentives that help you get them done. Fill out this simple form on our website to get the process started.

2. Replace your holiday lighting with LEDs.

We all enjoy driving through the neighborhood with the kids in the car to gaze at all the beautiful holiday lighting displays at our neighbors’ houses. Or maybe you’re the dad with the award-winning light display? While those lights are lovely, to be sure, they can also make for an increase on your energy bill. Particularly, if you inherited the same, outdated lighting your dad used to hang from the gutters when you were a kid. The simple fact is LEDs use 75% less energy than traditional light strings. No amount of nostalgia is worth that price increase.

Learn why WVPA members are driving from miles around for LED bulbs.

Find manufacturers and brands of ENERGY STARÒ certified decorative light strings.

3. Let the light (and heat) shine in.

Open the curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home. Just be sure to close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from drafty windows.

4. Cover drafty windows.

Speaking of drafty windows, cover them up! Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic film on the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to prevent any cold air from slipping inside. Check out this blog post from winter 2019 for even more tips on avoiding drafty windows.

5. Schedule a tune-up for your HVAC system.

When is the last time you had routine maintenance performed on your HVAC system? If you’re like most of us, the answer might be whenever you had your new system installed. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, most oil-fired systems should be tuned up and cleaned every year. Gas-fired systems should be checked every two years. Just like your car, HVAC equipment will last longer and operate more efficiently when you give it some regular care and attention.

6. Upgrade to a Geothermal Heating System

Ok, you caught us. This isn’t exactly a quick and easy DIY project. But, if you’re looking for a big project with even bigger savings, consider installing a Geothermal Energy System to heat (and cool) your home from the earth. In addition to using less energy, you’ll be able to apply for rebates from your local electric co-op.

7. Turn down the water heater.

If you’re like most of us, your hot water heater is the second highest source of energy use in your home. Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees. This will save you on your energy costs, and you’ll avoid burning your hands when you wash up from shoveling snow off the driveway as a bonus.

8. Find and seal leaks.

Drafty windows are hardly the only source of air leaks during winter. Gaps around chimneys, recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets are all common sources of air leaks. Check out this handy guide for how to detect air leaks. With a little bit of caulk and some weatherstripping, you’ll save on energy and be a lot warmer this winter.

9. Close the damper.

Speaking of air leaks around the fireplace, be sure to keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is no different than leaving a window wide open during the winter. Your warm air will go right up the chimney.

10. Adjust the Temperature.

Just as we advised you to turn down the heat on your hot water heater above, it’s important not to crank the thermostat of your furnace to 95 degrees every time the weather turns cold. When you are home and awake, set your furnace thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you’re asleep, turn your furnace thermostat back 10 or 15 degrees to save around 10% on your heating bills. You’ll be able to afford an extra weighted blanket with all the energy savings. Take advantage of a programmable thermostat, and like Ron Popeil used to say on those old Ronco rotisserie infomercials, “Set it, and forget it!”  What’s that? You don’t have a furnace, but you have a heat pump instead?  Be sure to check your smart thermostat to make sure it has  intelligent recovery so the heat pump runs instead of the backup heat when coming out of a deep setback.

11. Avoid leaving appliances on standby.

This one is a good reminder anytime of the year. Try not to leave electrical devices such as TVs, DVD players, mobile phone chargers, and other appliances on standby. If they’re on standby, they’re still switched on, which means they’re using energy. Instead of leaving them on standby, switch them off completely or unplug them.

12. Wash your clothes on cold.

Washing your clothes at a high temperature isn’t necessary these days. Most laundry detergents are designed to work effectively at a cold setting. Make sure your washing machine is fully loaded each time you use it, to save on electricity and water. You can also apply the same principle to your dishwasher.

Looking for other DIY projects to save even more energy? Check out the complete list on our website. Revisit our related blog post for DIY energy audit tips to help save energy at home.