Save your energy!

One of the best ways to lower your electric bill is through energy efficiency. For many years, LPEA has supported members in energy efficiency efforts, and the cooperative still offers complimentary energy assessments. LPEA Energy Management Advisors provide valuable information and tips for using less energy and improving the efficiency of homes and offices. To arrange a complimentary energy assessment call (970) 247-5786. To learn more about this program, click here: Energy Efficiency Audit Rebate Program.

Additionally, here are tips and tricks that can help when it comes to "saving your energy." Some work around the house and slight changes in habits can add up to quite a bit of energy and dollars saved each year. Larger investments can save even more energy over time, as well as increase the value of your home.

Think of saving energy as a challenge or a game you can play with your family. How many of the following tips can you implement? The reward will be lower energy bills, and less stress on our entire electric system. If you've implemented these tips and still feel you're not saving as much as you should, LPEA offers

To follow your progress in real kilowatt hours, sign up for LPEA's SmartHub, where you can view your account history, see what you consumed last year and compare your monthly use once you start implementing these suggestions. You can also sign up for SmartHub by calling us at (970) 247-5786.

Happy kilowatt savings!

Set back the thermostat
For every degree, your thermostat is set above 68 degrees, you add approximately 3 percent to your heating costs. Reduce the setting of your thermostat at night by 5 degrees and it can save approximately 8 percent on your heating costs. Setting it back 10 degrees will save approximately 11 percent.

When you’re gone, turn it down
Some say that setting your thermostat back during the day doesn’t save money because your heating system must work twice as hard when you get home to re-warm the home. That is false. Depending on the efficiency of your home, you should be able to set your thermostat back several degrees for eight hours a day, which will reduce the number of times your heating system needs to cycle on during the day – and that saves significant energy. It’s true that turning up your thermostat when you come home will prompt your system to run for a longer period to get your home to its optimal temperature – but you’ll still have save more energy (and money) over the eight hours your system worked less intensely while you were gone.  

Install a programmable thermostat
Automatically control your heating and cooling can save as much as 30 percent depending on the heating system and how well the house is insulated. In the winter, program the thermostat so that the house is cooler when no one is home during the day and when everyone is in bed at night. When the weather warms up, set the temperature higher during the day.

Weatherize your home for air tightness
On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches and other locations where a possible air path to the outside exists. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing or weather-stripping.

Practice zonal electrical heat
Heat only the rooms you use and close doors to unused rooms. Zonal electrical heat allows room by room control, which can reduce heating costs up to 25 percent.  

Change your furnace filters
Keeping the filter on your furnace (gas or electric) clean makes the furnace run efficiently. Change the filter every month of the heating season (or year-round if the filter is also used for air-conditioning). The filter protects the blower and its motor. Clogged filters make the motor work harder and use more power.  

Blanket the water heater
Installing a water heater blanket around your tank can save up to $20 per year on water heating costs – or more if the tank is in an unheated area.

Knock out the phantom load
Some 75 percent of the electrical use by home electronics occurs when they’re turned off. These phantom loads or energy vampires such electricity all day costing consumers an extra $100 each year, according to the US Department of Energy. The solution? Unplug your electronics, or plug them into a power strip and then turn off the strip. New computers and televisions have memory chips that reset when powered back up. To avoid frustration, do keep old devices that flash when the power goes out plugged in.  

LED bulbs save energy
Replace regular incandescent light bulbs with light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. LED lighting products produce light approximately 90% more efficiently than incandescent light bulbs. Swapping out the five most used bulbs in a house with LEDs could cut $60 worth of electricity every year. LPEA offers rebates on the purchase of LED bulbs. For more information, check out our rebate section: lpea.coop/lpea-rebate-programs

Consider Time-of-Use
LPEA’s Time-of-Use program offers members the option to pay lower rates when using electricity in off-peak hours. See if you can adjust your lifestyle to switch your heavy electrical usage to off-peak hours and save money. Click here to learn more: lpea.coop/time-use-program

Set up a “charging station”
Organize a central “charging station” or single multi-socket power strip with an on-off switch for all your phone, device battery rechargers, etc. When charging equipment, turn the power strip on. When not, switch the power strip off to avoid the phantom loads when rechargers are kept plugged into a wall socket.

Caulk those windows
Experts estimate that tiny leaks around doors and windows let as much heat escape from the house as an open window – so seal up those leaks and save money and energy. Because caulk often contains toxic substances that make it more durable or ward off mold, look for low-VOC caulk that lasts at least 10 years and cleans up easily with water or a mild solvent. The standard 100 percent silicone caulk found in local hardware stores is a good option and does meet some of the LEED green building requirements.  

Pay attention to ventilation fans
During the winter, heed how you’re using your ventilation fans. While it’s important to remove excess humidity from the bathrooms and kitchen, the fans also remove heated air. In fact, one can suck all the heated air from a house in about an hour.  

Be a tree-hugger
Landscaping is a natural and beautiful way to keep your home cool in summer and reduce your energy bills. In addition to adding aesthetic value and environmental quality to your home, a well-placed tree, shrub or vine can deliver effective shade, act as a windbreak and reduce your overall energy bills. Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25 percent of the energy a typical household uses for cooling. Studies conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found summer daytime air temperatures to be 3 to 6 degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods than in treeless areas.  

Maintain your air conditioning (if you're fortunate enough to have it)
The best way to keep your air conditioner running at peak efficiency (not consuming excess energy just trying to work) is to spend a couple of hours each year on basic maintenance such as cleaning and straightening the fins, changing the filter and lubricating the motor.

Staying at home increases energy usage
With the pandemic, are you staying home more? Instead of being away at work a good portion of the day, many people are doing more telecommuting. Others are staying home rather than going out to eat. Being at home for more hours each day can increase your energy bills. Pay attention to your home energy consumption habits to reduce costs. Simply being aware of when you use appliances such as the dishwasher and clothes dryer will help you save money by avoiding the "peak load." Refer to lpea.coop/rates for a thorough description and videos detailing LPEA's various rate classes.

Heat flying out the flue?
Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter, allowing warm air to go right up the chimney. But dampers aren’t designed to be air tight – to prevent further heat loss, fill a trash bag with insulation and stuff it up the chimney to form a plug. Attach a note as a reminder to remove it before starting a fire.  

Gasket guardians
In older homes, foam gaskets placed behind electrical outlet and switch plates can insulate against wire holes drilled to the basement or attic. One gasket doesn’t sound like it will do a lot of good, but install them through the whole house and it adds up.  

Check duct connections
In the attic and crawlspaces, check those duct connections, especially in older homes. A tremendous amount of energy leakage happens under the house. Metal tape and duct mastic are quick, inexpensive fixes to leaking connections.  

Insulate hatches
Glue four layers or so of insulated sheeting board to attic access hatches. A gasket around the hatch will ensure it’s airtight. An uninsulated attic hatch acts like a chimney. Heated air travels right up to the attic.

Strip it
Add weather stripping to all exterior doors. Weather stripping is available at any hardware store or home center and is an easy way to prevent air leaks.

A garage door is a garage door, isn’t it?
Choose the right kind of exterior doors, including the garage door. Look for insulated fiberglass models. They look like wood, but they are five times more energy efficient than wood.  

Time your heat tape 
If you’ve installed heat tape along your roof’s edge to melt snow and ice, put the tape on a timer. Limiting use of, for example, 100-ft of heat tape to 10 hours per night would cost 62 cents per day, as opposed to approximately $1.49 a day if the tape was left on for 24 hours.

Replace old windows
Windows provide light, ventilation and solar heating in the winter. Unfortunately, they also account for 10 to 25 percent of your heating bill. High performance Energy Star-labeled windows can cut your heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent.

Close the blinds
Inefficient windows can add 10-25 percent to heating bills and up to 75 percent to summer air conditioning bills. Different types of window coverings have different characteristics. For example, window draperies can reduce heat loss from a warm room up to 10 percent. Window coverings with a honeycomb or cellular construction can block up to 62 percent of the heat transfer through the window pane. Close the blinds at night, but open them during the day to let in the winter sun.

Wash in cold water
Heating water accounts for more than 10 percent of an average home’s total energy use and up to 80 percent of the energy used while washing clothes. Many people believe that the hotter the water, the cleaner the clothes. Many clothes, however, do just as well being washed in cold water as in hot – especially when using a detergent made for cold water.

Scale back on the clothes dryer
Conserve energy by taking advantage of the clothesline – air dry clothes whenever possible. When using the dryer, set the moisture sensor option to automatically shut off the dryer when the clothes are dry. If your clothes washer has spin options, choose a high spin speed or extended spin option to reduce the amount of remaining moisture, thus starting the drying process before you put your clothes in the dryer.

Stockpile laundry
When possible, wash only full loads – but don’t overload the washer. Dry clothes in consecutive loads so the drum doesn’t have time to cool down. LPEA offers rebates for purchase of new energy efficient Energy Star washers and clothes dryers.

Keep the lint trap clean
Empty the trap with each use and clean it with a toothbrush every few months. Use an attachment on your vacuum to get inside the trap to ensure it's clear from debris. When the trap is clean, your dryer should function more efficiently. 

Buy Energy Star®  if you're on the market for new appliances
LPEA will pay credits to our members for installing electric water heaters, electric heating systems and/or energy efficient motors and commercial energy efficiency lighting upgrades. Details can be found here: lpea.coop/lpea-rebate-programs

Pay attention to pans

  • Buy sturdy, flat-bottomed cookware. The ideal pan has a slightly concave bottom. When it heats up, the metal expands and the bottom flattens out. An electric element is significantly less efficient if the pan does not have good contact with the element. For example, boiling water for pasta could use 50 percent more energy on a cheap, warped-bottom pan compared to a flat bottom pan.
  • Use high-conductivity materials. Certain materials work better than others when cooking and usually result in more evenly cooked food. For instance, copper-bottom pans heat up faster than regular pans. In the oven, glass or ceramic pans are typically better than metal – you can turn down the temperature about 25 degrees and cook foods just as quickly.

Use the microwave and toaster oven
Because microwave ovens cook faster, they’re much more energy-efficient than conventional ovens. While they do use more power per minute, less cooking time is required, and they do not heat up the house in the summer. And the toaster oven – it’s not just for toast. When baking, they use half the energy of a conventional oven.

Ideas for the oven
When using a conventional oven don’t pre-heat. Roasting or baking meat is a long, slow process, so there is really no need to pre-heat your oven – despite what the recipe suggests. During the baking process, don’t peek. Opening the oven door can lower the temperature inside as much as 25 degrees. This not only wastes energy, it also prolongs cooking time. If you have an electric oven, try turning it off 5 to 10 minutes before the dish should be done. Electric ovens hold heat, and your dish will continue to cook. Just remember to keep the oven door closed until the full cooking time is completed.

Managing the exhaust
During the summer, use the exhaust fan to vent the heat outside and keep the house cooler. For the winter months, take advantage of the heat by keeping it off.

Doing dishes
Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating. Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature. Many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature. Scrape, don’t rinse, off large food pieces. Be sure your dishwasher is full but not overloaded when you run it. Don’t use the “rinse hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it. Let your dishes air dry. If you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster. Energy Star qualified dishwashers use 25 percent less energy than the federal minimum standard for energy consumption, and use much less water.

Invest in a new refrigerator
Refrigerators consume some 13 percent of household energy, and the older they are, the more inefficient they are. If your refrigerator is 8 years or older, it’s advisable to invest in a new one. LPEA also offers rebates for Energy Star® models. Click here to learn more: lpea.coop/lpea-rebate-programs

Take a moment for your fridge
Position your refrigerator away from a heat source such as an oven, dishwasher or direct sunlight. To allow air to circulate around the condenser coils, leave a space between the wall or cabinets and the refrigerator or freezer – and keep coils clean. Set your refrigerator between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer at 0 degrees. Minimize the amount of time the refrigerator door is open and make sure the door seals are airtight by closing a door on a dollar bill. If it pulls out easily, the gasket should be adjusted or replaced.

Helpful Links

4Core www.fourcore.org

Colorado State University www.yourenergy.extension.colostate.edu

Alliance to Save Energy ase.org/section/_audience/consumers/energybilltips

Smart Energy Living Alliance www.SmartEnergyLiving.org

American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy www.aceee.org

US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program www.energysavers.gov

Energy Star® Appliances www.energystar.gov