As Energy Action Month comes to a close, it’s time to face down the scary thought of wasting energy and money. Don’t miss out on utility cost savings this fall and winter, take action now to address common energy waste culprits at home.
1. Adjust your thermostat. One of the simplest ways to avoid paying too much for energy in the colder months of the year is to adjust your thermostat. If you have a programmable thermostat, use it to establish a schedule so that your house is warmer when you’re home and awake and cooler when you’re away or sleeping. One or two degrees either way can make a big difference.
If you don’t yet have a programmable thermostat, consider purchasing one. Dominion Energy is currently offering up to $100 in rebates to customers who purchase a smart thermostat. In the interim, set an alarm on your phone or clock to remind you to adjust your thermostat before you leave or when you get home.
2. Look for leaks. HVAC systems are the biggest energy hogs in buildings and you pay for every bit of energy used to heat or cool your home. Don’t let your dollars slip away through cracks or gaps around your windows, doors, and exterior outlets. Borrow a thermal camera from any Fairfax County Public Library to check for air leaks around your house, and then install weatherstripping or use caulk to close them up. Also consider using socket sealers to prevent air from leaking out through electrical outlets or light switch plates on exterior walls of your home.
3. Make an energy-saving wish list. The holidays are right around the corner and you can score significant deals and savings on new, energy efficient appliances and tech for your home. Take some time now to examine the gadgets and gizmos around your house that use energy, both large and small, and if anything is past its useful life or no longer working, consider seeking a more efficient replacement. Take advantage of Dominion’s appliance recycling program and you may be eligible for a $20 rebate.
4. Track your usage. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Take some time to gather your energy bills for the past year and prepare to do a side-by-side comparison with your bills going forward. Make adjustments to the ways you use energy at home, like always turning off lights or electronics when they’re not needed, and watch the savings add up. Look for major discrepancies from month to month and year to year, and try to reason through what may be causing big swings – is it something behavioral like running your HVAC when you’re not home, or is it something technological/physical like a new air leak?
5. Vanquish your vampires. A classic Halloween energy-saving activity, search your house for energy vampires, or those devices that continue to suck electricity even when they’re “off.” Vampires are usually easy to spot as they often include an indicator light that glows even when you’re not using them. If your energy vampires are centered around an entertainment center or home office set up, consider using a smart power strip to gain control and vanquish them for good. Otherwise, try to remember to unplug these nasty energy suckers when they're not in use.