New energy habits can save you money at home
Spring Cleanup for Hoquiam
Before we get into the heart of our blog today, we want to remind Hoquiamites that the City’s Spring Cleanup is scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday, March 23-26. So, you’ll want to start the tidy and cleanup of your home and environs ASAP to take advantage.
During those days, Hoquiam Sanitation has issued vouchers for a free trip for Hoquiam residents to the LeMay Transfer Station, 29 Gavett Lane N, off of Clemmons Road in Montesano. The hours for the Spring Cleanup are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
We are still nailing down their details for other city’s spring cleanup days, but will be sure to let you know of more dates in the next blog!
Lower costs for home energy use
With gas at the pump taking a major hike in price right now, it’s especially helpful to find other places to save to help balance the household budget! Creating a few new good habits and getting rid of a few bad ones can save you money on your energy bill.
A few weeks ago, we talked about how keeping your home comfortably heated is typically the largest user of energy around here. However, once you’ve done what you can to keep your heating costs low, it’s time to address other places in your home that use up energy.
This blog will focus on saving money through energy-efficient major and minor appliances.
Water heaters come in second
After the home’s heating system, the biggest use of power typically comes from the water heater. Most water heaters these days probably don’t need insulation, and adding a blanket may void your warranty. However, installing a timer will control the on/off periods for best use. When you’re on vacation, or even away over the weekend, hit the off switch, timer or not. The working temperature should be set at 120 degrees, by the way.
You will also save money if you use the cold-water settings on your washing machine, shorten up those showers, and don’t turn on the hot water faucet unless you need hot water!
Even though hot water won’t reach you in time to use it for your short task, if you turn on the hot faucet, hot water will move down the pipes, where it then cools. Plus, the water that replaces it in the tank must then be heated – an unnecessary waste of water and energy!
You may want to consider a heat pump water heater in the future. It can typically save between 25 and 50 percent off of your electric hot water costs. By transferring heat rather than creating it, heat pump water heaters deliver hot water twice as efficiently as standard electric water heaters. However, they typically need more space and cost more than a standard water heater, so they may not be a good choice for everyone.
Washing and drying clothes
Clothes dryers are another big energy user. Dryers run most efficiently (and safer) when the lint filter is cleaned after each load. Also, check the vent system monthly to see that it is clear – something that is also critical for fire safety.
A proper dryer vent system is as short as possible, uses straight, smooth-wall rigid aluminum pipe, and is vented outside the house through a hinged flapper vent. This allows the free flow of moist air out and prevents cold air and vermin from coming in. It will save your house and save you money.
Reduce wash loads by wearing things longer and hanging things up. In nice weather, hang washed clothes out to dry.
When using your washing machine, use the cold or warm water settings and wait for a full load to wash. ENERGY STAR-rated washing machines can use up to 25 percent less energy, saving you about $40 a year in energy costs.
Refrigerators and freezers
Did you know that cleaning the refrigerator coils of dust annually will improve efficiency? (That’s something we just added to your spring cleaning To Do list in a recent blog.)
To do so, unplug the refrigerator and look underneath for the flat coils. Simply ream with a bottlebrush or sock-covered hanger and vacuum. Finally, check to see that the refrigerator’s temperature setting is set in the middle of the scale.
Also, it takes less energy to operate a packed freezer than a half-full one. Ice packs help volume-cool when you get low on groceries and when the power goes out.
Replacing old appliances
Are you considering the purchase of a new appliance? ENERGY STAR-rated appliances can cost more upfront, but pay back with lower energy costs. Also, the Grays Harbor PUD offers rebates for ENERGY STAR refrigerators ($10), freezers ($15), and clothes dryers ($50). In addition, an ENERGY STAR washing machine is eligible for a $30 rebate.
You may want to double-check with the folks at the PUD’s Energy Services before you buy. (Give them a call at (360) 538-6383 or look online at www.ghpud.org.)
Additional tips on appliances
A microwave oven uses less than 10 percent of the energy used by an electric range to heat food.
Instead of keeping the coffee pot heated all morning, place coffee in a thermos for the day or use the microwave as needed.
Turn off the TVs, when you’re not watching. Some plasma screens, in particular, can draw a lot of power. If you’re just wanting some background noise, try the radio!
More ways to save
Again, call the Grays Harbor PUD or look online for additional rebates for energy-saving items for your home. We’re talking insulation, new windows and more! And don’t forget ductless heat pumps!