ALBANY — The forecast for the North Country predicts below-zero temperatures for Saturday, a frigid reminder to button up homes for the winter.
Here are some tips on reducing energy offered up from the New York State Public Service Commission and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA):
Insulate the attic: It is usually the easiest place to insulate and also can bring the most energy savings. Make sure to seal air leaks, as warm air leakage causes ice-dam problems. After sealing them, add more insulation in the attic. Provide adequate attic ventilation so the undersides of the roof and outside air are at the same temperature, also checking that the insulation is not blocking roof ventilation. Improper ventilation can cause mold and mildew problems.
Insulate and seal heating ducts: Poorly sealed ducts can waste 10 to 30 percent of energy costs.
Weatherize: Keep the warm air in by adding insulation, caulking and weather-stripping around doors, attic access, windows, electrical outlets and any area where warm air can escape.
Tune up the heating system: For most homes, the heating system is the largest energy user and can account for more than 60 percent of the total energy bill. Clean or replace the filter once a month or as needed and have the system checked at least once a year.
Avoid vampire usage: Buy an advanced power strip to manage the power used by electronics and appliances. The power strips shut off the stand-by or “vampire load” that is consumed when those items are turned off. Plug televisions, DVD players, home stereos and gaming consoles into an advance power strip, and you can cut the power to all them when you shut off your TV.
Use a programmable thermostat: Proper usage can save as much as $200 on an energy bill. The unit offers pre-programmed and customized settings to regulate the temperature when folks are home, asleep or away.
Use the oven wisely: Keep the door closed when the oven is in use. Every time it opens, the temperature goes down 25 degrees, using more energy. Also, heat multiple items in the oven together, and turn it off 10 to 15 minutes early to let residual heat finish the cooking.
Use energy-efficient lighting: Choose ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs. Lighting accounts for about 12 percent of the average household’s energy bill.
Energy audit/financial assistance: Home Performance with ENERGY STAR comprehensive home-energy assessments, free for most New Yorkers, are available to show the best ways to reduce energy waste and improve home comfort.
Learn how to get the ball rolling for an audit by calling (877) NY-SMART or visit www.nyserda.ny.gov/home-performance.
NYSERDA offers low-interest loans, including payment through utility bills, and cash-back incentives.
Manage energy bills: Check with the utility company about bill payment options such as budget billing, and ask about low-income energy efficiency programs.
Find more energy-saving tips at www.AskPSC.com and www.NYSERDA.ny.gov.