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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Energy Saving Tips

Aug 31, 2015 08:59PM

Getting Your Home Ready for Fall

by Ted Trabue
​            After higher than normal temperatures over the past couple of months, it’s hard to believe the summer is almost over. Hot summers typically mean higher energy bills, so here are a few simple energy saving tips that can help you recover from the summer and get ready for the fall.
Evaluate Your Situation.
Do a simple walk-through to help you find where energy is being wasted and identify opportunities to save energy in your home. Making a checklist of the items you find can help you set priorities for potential upgrades. For instance, check light fixtures to see if you can replace inefficient light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Take note of instances where you may find air leaks near windows and doors; clean the vents around the refrigerator and check your attic to ensure you have sufficient insulation and moisture barriers.

The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) offers a number of rebates to residents of the District of Columbia that can help offset the cost of purchasing energy-efficient products.

Get a Professional Opinion.
Consider getting a professional energy audit to more clearly assess your home’s efficiency. You can save up to 30 percent on your energy bills and improve your comfort by working with a D.C. Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® contractor. These specially trained District-based contractors can perform an energy audit of your home and make recommended improvements, such as air sealing and insulation. The DCSEU offers financial incentives of up to $1,800 for qualifying home energy upgrades done with a participating contractor.
Turn Down the Thermostat.
Did you know that by actively regulating your home’s temperature you can help you save as much as 10 percent on annual heating costs? In fact, lowering the heat from 72 to 65 degrees for eight hours per day can help you save two to 3 percent in energy costs for every degree you lower your thermostat over the course of day.

Try lowering the heat as everyone leaves for the day and just before going to bed. Or, automate the process by purchasing a programmable thermostat, which automatically adjusts the temperature based on the temperature setting you choose, turning the heat down when you don't need it, and turning it on up when you do. You can even adjust the temperature for some programmable thermostats using a smartphone app.  You can purchase a programmable thermostat for as little as $20 from your local hardware store.

Replace Light Bulbs.
Shorter days are approaching, which means you will be using lights in your home for a greater number of hours each day. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent light bulbs, or LEDs which use up to 75 percent less energy. The DCSEU is working with local retailers to offer discounts on highly-efficient ENERGY STAR light bulbs to D.C. residents. Visit the to find a participating retailer near you.
Kill Phantom Loads.
Many of your home electronics, appliances and office equipment use power even when they’re off. These are known as “phantom loads” and you can stop wasting energy by plugging these devices into a power strip and simply turning it off when you're not using them. You can even use a smart power strip, which helps reduce your power usage by shutting down power to products that go into standby mode.
Get your Furnace or Boiler in Shape.
It is recommended that you inspect heating and cooling equipment annually, so schedule a maintenance call for your boiler, furnace and other heating systems before you start using them in the cooler months.  Also, to ensure your units efficiency, check filters and replace them as needed, especially during periods of high usage.

If your unit is more than 15 years old, you should consider replacing your system with a newer, energy-efficient unit. The DCSEU provides up to $1000 in rebates to residential homeowners for the installation of energy-saving heating systems installed by a participating contractor.

Look for the ENERGY STAR® Label.
Whether you're planning to purchase new appliances, a new heating or cooling system, or home electronics, look for the ENERGY STAR® label to find the most energy-efficient models on the market.

Ted Trabue, Managing Director of the DCSEU, helps D.C. residents and businesses use less energy and save money. Since 2011, the DCSEU has delivered financial incentives, technical assistance and information to tens of thousands of District residents and businesses, helping them to save millions of dollars on their energy costs. For more information, call 202-479-2222 or visit


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