MARQUETTE - With February typically showcasing some of the coldest days of winter, it's a good idea to take a few minutes to consider the amount of money you may be losing to lost energy, both in your home and using your vehicle.
The U.S. Department of Energy says the typically family spends roughly $1,900 each year on home utility bills, but a large portion of that energy is wasted. From an environmental perspective, government officials say electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home, puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars.
And speaking of vehicles, the government says that 67 percent of all U.S. oil consumption is attributed to transportation.
In a booklet provided by the Department of Energy, there are long- and short-term tips for saving money on energy costs.
"The key to achieving these savings in your home is a whole-house energy efficiency plan," government officials said. "To take a whole-house approach, view your home as an energy system with interdependent parts."
For example, your heating system is not just a furnace -it's a heat-delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers heat throughout your home using a network of ducts. Even a top-of-the-line, energy-efficient furnace will waste a lot of fuel if the ducts, walls, attic, windows, and doors are not properly sealed and insulated. Taking a whole-house approach to saving energy ensures that dollars you invest to save energy are spent wisely, the government said.
The Department of Energy has suggested several easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy, which can save you money:
- Install a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer.
- Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 degrees.
- Use compact fluorescent light bulbs with the "Energy Star" label. That label indicates products and appliances the government says have superior energy efficiency, which can save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those "Energy Star" items must meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Government officials suggest looking for the label on home appliances and products as a good way to save money and energy.
- Turn off your computer and monitor when they are not in use.
- Air dry dishes instead of using the dishwasher's drying cycle.
- Plug home electronics, including televisions and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).
- Take short showers instead of baths.
- Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
- In your vehicle, drive sensibly. Aggressive driving, including speeding, rapid acceleration and braking, wastes gasoline.
Department of Energy offcials said energy-efficient improvements not only make your home more comfortable, they can yield long-term financial rewards.
Reduced utility bills more than make up for the higher price of energy-efficient appliances and improvements over their lifetimes. In addition, your home could bring in a higher price when you sell.
For more tips, visit: www.energysavers.gov/
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.