As we roll into summer, most of us are probably getting our yards into shape. It won’t be long before our flowerbeds are awash in color and our gardens are pumping out wheelbarrows full of zucchini (whether we like it or not). But have you thought about getting your house in shape for spring and summer? And no, we’re not talking about basic spring cleaning. We’re talking about making your home as energy efficient as possible – both to save you money and to keep our planet healthy and happy.
Nationally, our homes use 22% of our country’s energy. Each year a typical American household will spend at least $2,000 on home utility bills. Imagine extra money in your bank account just by changing a few things in your house!
We know it might seem odd for an energy company to focus on energy efficiency and sustainability, but we’re committed to a cleaner energy future. Last year we set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity from our natural gas utility operations by 50% by 2035, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our electric operations by 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2040.
You can play a role by making your home as energy efficient as possible, and we’ve compiled a list of ideas to get you started. Not only will you be impacting the planet long term, but you’ll be impacting your bank account right now. A lot of the steps below are simple and easy to do. The larger steps that require a purchase will pay off with the savings you’ll make in energy costs.
1. Improve the insulation in your home and seal any leaks.This is one of the quickest and most cost-effective tasks for reducing energy waste. Seal leaks first by caulking and weather-stripping seams and cracks. You probably already know where these drafty places are in your home – maybe a bedroom window where you can see the curtain move or maybe it’s the seal around the door leading to your garage. Don’t forget seals around plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring as well. Once the seals are complete, thoroughly insulate your home. You’ll be thrilled with your decreased energy costs. Find more weatherization tips here.
2. Replace bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs. Did you know that the average household puts about 6% of its energy budget into lighting? Simply by switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs, you can cut your energy bills fast. Plus, you may be eligible to get a rebate from Black Hills Energy for switching. Click here for more info.
3. Consider installing a smart thermostat. A smart thermostat is Wi-Fi enabled and it adjusts heating and cooling automatically for optimal efficiency and performance. These thermostats save you money by heating and cooling only as much as needed, which is good for the environment and good for your pocketbook. A case study by Nest showed the homeowners using smart thermometers saved an average of 10% to 12% on heating costs and 15% on air conditioning costs. And guess what, we also offer a rebate in some areas for that. Click here for more info.
4. Regularly clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner.
5. Consider planting trees to shade your home and yard. Some research indicates that temps in the summer can be 3 to 6 degrees cooler in neighborhoods with plenty of shade from trees.
6. Turn down your hot water heater and ensure it’s insulated properly. Water heaters are the second largest energy user in a house, accounting for about 18% of a utility bill.
7. Skip the drying cycle on your dishwasher. Instead, prop the door open once dishes are washed and allow them to air dry.
8. Leave your faucet in the cold position when you need a small amount of water. Faucets on the hot position pull hot water even though it may never reach the faucet.
9. Skip the oven and use something like a toaster oven instead.A toaster oven uses only about half as much energy as your full-size oven.
10. Make sure to clean the lint trap on your dryer regularly. Also, vacuum out the lint trap opening every so often. There’s likely a lot of lint that is trapped there.
11. Wash your clothes in cold water whenever possible. If you can, hang clothes to dry.
12. When you’re done with your computer at the end of the day, switch it to sleep mode. Screen savers do not reduce the monitor’s energy use.
Check out our Energy Savings page for more tips to save energy and money. Now what are you waiting for? Get started today and begin thinking about ways to spend your savings.
Black Hills Energy Blog
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