Seven ways to save money and electricity this winter - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Seven ways to save money and electricity this winter

WATERLOO (KWWL) - Last week's weather reminded us - winter is on the way! October is energy awareness month, the perfect time to take a tour around your home and search for ways to save energy and money this year. Here are some simple and cheap ways to warm, seal, and green up your home this weekend from the Iowa State University Extension Service.

1) Check all the doors and windows in your home. Doors and windows can be responsible for 50% of the heat loss in your home in winter. If you feel a draft where the window meets the pane - cut an old towel into a 4 inch strip and lay it across the bottom, then close the window on top of it. Replacing caulk and/or weather-strip around windows and doors is one of the most simple and effective measures you can take. Add weather-stripping or rubber compression strips as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home.

2) Install a programmable thermostat - if you do not have one, for less than $50 you can save 10% on your monthly heating bill! Set your indoor temperature for no more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit when you're at home and awake and no more than 62 degrees when you're away or asleep.

3) If you have not done so - remove that air conditioning unit from your window! This is a direct leak of warm air, and worth the 20 minutes of sweat to get it out.

4) At the risk of sounding like my father: get a furnace tune up, and change your air filter (for Heaven's sake). Dirty filters make your furnace work harder to pull air to move the heat throughout your home.

5) While you are in the basement checking the furnace, take a look at that water heater. Make sure your tank temperature is set at no more than 130 degrees (120 is just fine). If your water heater is more than 5 years old, chances are you need to wrap it with a thermal blanket. By wrapping your tank in a $20 water heater insulating blanket, it will lose less heat and not have to work as hard to keep your water hot. A small investment in a blanket can pay for itself in energy savings in a few short months.

6) Ever wonder how much electricity those old appliances use? ISU Extension offices have Kill-a-Watt meters to lend, directions included, which can help you calculate how much that old refrigerator is costing you. The meter comes complete with operating instructions and methods to calculate the cost of energy consumed by the appliance once the kilowatt-hour measurement is obtained. County residents can borrow a meter free of charge for a one week time period. Simply stop by the Jefferson Extension office in Fairfield or call (641) 472-4166 to "check-out" a meter for use in your home. Consider purchasing more energy efficient appliances, which save money in the long run. Most utility companies have significant rebates and incentives for efforts to reduce energy use.

7) Have an energy audit performed on your home. Your local utilities company will do a basic audit for free, and other private services are available for a modest fee. If you are all thumbs, these folks will help find those sneaky spots where cold air comes in, warm air goes out, and energy is wasted.


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