Forget ghosts and goblins this Halloween season. The actual terror may be lurking in your home. Unfortunately, when cold weather arrives, your home can become an energy vampire, sucking power and draining the contents of your wallet.
Before you reach for the garlic or wooden stakes, never fear. There are some simple ways to slow the ooze of energy from your home. During this National Energy Awareness Month, let’s take a look at a few.
Wave the wand and seal it up: Have you ever stood near a window, door or even an electrical outlet in your home only to feel cold air from the outside? No, it’s not a ghost (or at least we don’t think it is), it’s wasted energy due to poor seals. Take a look around your home and identify ways that warm air might be escaping and cold air creeping in. Use insulation caulking or weather stripping to stop the airflow in its tracks.
Abracadabra, your furnace is clean: Make sure you’re replacing your furnace filters each month. Dirty filters force your furnace to work harder, which uses more energy. While you’re at it, check your vents for anything that could be blocking airflow.
Give the furnace a checkup: Don’t wait for a cold night to crank up the heat. Test it out early to ensure all is in order. You might also consider hiring a professional to do an inspection. A fall furnace inspection will stop your home’s energy vampires in their tracks. An inspection will determine if your thermostat is accurate and identify leaks and proper ventilation. Technicians will check pilot safety functions and ensure the burner ignition system is clean and working efficiently. See if we offer furnace inspections in your area here.
A thermostat that’s ghosting you: If you haven’t upgraded to a programmable thermostat, check out our energy efficiency programs to see if you’re eligible for a rebate when you purchase one. Better yet, enter our Black Hills Energy sweepstakes, held Oct. 25-29 on Facebook, for a chance to win a Nest Thermostats. If you already have a programmable thermostat, consider changing your thermostat settings. You’ll save as much as 10% annually on energy bills by setting your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees during the daytime hours when no one is home. Plus, it’s a known fact that goblins hate cool temps, so you have that going for you, too.
Unplug to prevent “Poltergeist” visits: OK, so maybe you don’t need to worry about poltergeists coming in through your television, but you do about wasted energy from plugged in devices. If you have devices or appliances you aren’t using, unplug them. If they’re plugged in, they’re draining energy. Consider plugging devices to power strips, which will let you toggle the power on and off in one easy move. Some of those energy vampires that you can block by unplugging include:
- Cell phone or tablet chargers: If you’re not using them, unplug them.
- Appliances: Things like toasters and coffee makers suck energy when not in use. Unplug them.
- Computers: Desktop and laptop computers can zap energy, especially if they aren’t in sleep mode. So shut them off and unplug when not in use. While you’re at it, this is a great time to determine if your devices are sufficiently protected against cyber threats. October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and we’ve compiled six cyber security tips to keep you and your devices safe from scammers.
- Video game consoles: They use energy even when you’re not playing them. Unplug them and stop the energy drain.
Dump the old bulbs: Switch your incandescent light bulbs with more efficient LED bulbs. They use less wattage, save money and we hear vampires hate them.
Let the light in: If you have south facing windows in your home, open those shades during the day and let the sun do its job heating up your home. At night, close blinds to trap in the warmth.
Visit a fortune teller: No one can predict the weather, but any trick-or-treater with a crystal ball can tell you that winter will set in soon. Now is a good time to start budgeting for higher home heating bills during the cold months ahead. We encourage any of our customers who may be struggling to pay their bills to reach out to our customer service team. If you’re worried about affording your bill, you should consider enrolling in Budget Billing, a free payment plan that averages the amount owed each month. This budget option supports customers looking to avoid the seasonal increases in bills that result during extreme weather by averaging out your usage over a 12-month period. Learn more about this and our other energy assistance programs like Black Hills Cares at www.blackhillsenergy.com/winter-ready.
As the days and nights get colder, you won’t regret taking the time to implement a few or all of these energy saving tips. They’re easy, inexpensive and they’ll keep the cold (and spooks) away. Have a happy Halloween season and stay warm! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Black Hills Energy Blog
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