Winter is approaching, and it may have Union City residents wondering what they can do to keep their homes warm while avoiding high energy bills in the process. StopWaste, the local government agency leading Energy Upgrade California in Alameda County, has developed a list of five simple tips to help people save on utility bills while creating a comfortable, cozy home for the winter.
1. Find your energy wasters – Sign up for the free Home Energy Analyzer (www.homenergyanalyzer.org) to get a personalized energy diagnosis. The online tool uses PG&E smart meter data to give you insight into how your home is using energy and suggests simple changes to reduce energy waste.
2. Get smart – Invest in smart power strips for your home to save on energy used by lights, TVs, and other electronics which are still drawing in power even when they are powered off. Smart power strips, turn off these devices for you – based on a timer, motion detection or by sensing if your devices are turned off or sleeping. These strips are available at most electronic retailers, and your local utilities company may even have discounts or rebates available.
3. Get with the program(mable thermostat) – Install a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set timers so that the heater isn’t wasting heat all night while you’re sleeping or all day while you’re at work. This applies to air conditioning usage during the summer months as well. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.
4. Wrap it up – Give your water heater an insulation blanket this winter. You can save 4 to 9 percent of your water heating costs simply by wrapping your hot water heater. To check if your tank needs insulation, place your hand on the tank. If it feels warm, then wrap it with an insulation blanket.
5. Seal it off – Your home may be leaking energy out through cracks around your home’s windows and doors, which let in cold drafts. Sealing those problem cracks in your home with weatherstripping or caulking will keep cold air out and keep you more comfortable. With proper air sealing and good insulation, you can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs, according to the EPA.