November 28, 2013

Save energy costs this winter

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.

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