Simple savings: You have the power to trim energy, cut costs

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Homeowners can take a number of small steps to reduce energy costs during the remaining days of summer.
Much of the work you do now will result in lower costs in the winter, too.
“If you do a lot of little things, they will add up,” said Lynn Fair, a manager with Tupelo Water amp& Light.
Here’s a simple idea from Fair that won’t cost a thing: Keep your blinds and curtains closed during the day to keep the sun out in the summer, and open them up in the winter to let the sun in.
“A lot of people just don’t think about it,” Fair said.
He suggested moving the thermostat up to 78 degrees or higher when no one is home for several days. There’s no point in keeping an empty house too comfortable.
Even if you’re in town, you can program a digital thermostat to turn heating and air conditioning on and off at different times during the day, which could save about $100 a year.
Charles White, senior salesman at Tupelo Hardware, suggested changing the filter on your air conditioner because a clean filter boosts efficiency, and increased efficiency leads to lower costs.
“They say you should do it every month,” White said. “We have people who come in and buy a case of filters and they change them every month when they pay their light bill.”
Spray sealants can plug holes around pipes and television cables. A tube or two of caulk, properly applied, can reduce costs, too. You don’t want your cool air slipping through cracks around windows and doors.
“You can walk up to a door and tell at night,” White said. “You can see the light at the bottom and the sides if it’s not sealed right.”
Weather stripping can keep light and air inside, where you want it.
“The new stripping they have now is easy to install,” White said. “It’s something you can do yourself. Just peel the back and stick in on.”
It’s also a simple matter to install door sweeps at the bottom of your doors, White said.
“The big escape is the ceiling,” Fair said. “Make sure you’ve got adequate insulation.”
Heat rises, so attic insulation really comes into play during the winter months, but you’ll get some benefit in the summer.
Applying insulation to your pipes won’t keep you cooler, but it will reduce the cost of heating water, and that will shave pennies off your electricity bill.
“I did that myself,” Fair said. “It’s not hard, and it didn’t take long.”
An insulated blanket around your water heater will cut costs, as well.
Tupelo Water amp& Light customers will find a number of energy-saving tips in their August and September bills.
Everyone’s welcome to visit www.energysavers.gov, which has a list of suggestions compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy.
If you can afford a major renovation to make your house more energy efficient, more power – or less – to you.
Otherwise, every little bit helps to keep more money in your pocket when the world gets horribly hot or frightfully cold.
scott.morris@journalinc.com

Tips, tricks
LOOK FOR ENERGY STAR
ENERGY STAR is a national symbol for superior energy efficiency backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.
You’ll find the symbol on light bulbs, caulk, ceiling fans, dishwashers, storm windows, doors and more.
Those products usually require a higher upfront investment, but, according to www.energystar.gov, Energy Star appliances use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models.
As older appliances wear out, keep the Energy Star in mind.

OLD-SCHOOL GREEN
TREES AND SHRUBS can protect your home from heat in the summer and cold winds in the winter. Consider these tips for using trees for energy conservation:
AVOID PLACING TREES too close to a house. Usually 25 feet from walls or the roof line is adequate.
AVOID PLACING TREES directly under power lines or over underground sewer, water or utility lines.
SPACE TREES according to their anticipated mature size.
AVOID USING EVERGREEN species on the south side of a house. Use shrubs or vines to protect east and west wall exposures. Be conscious of where the sun will be at various times of the year.

SOURCE: MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION SERVICE