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Fuel for Thought National Fuel

Fuel for Thought: Energy Efficiency Tips

Conserving energy whenever possible not only helps your pocketbook, it also helps reduce emissions in the atmosphere, making the air cleaner for everyone. Just a few small, inexpensive steps can make a big difference!

House Reducing air leaks could cut as much as 10% from your monthly energy bill. Seal leaks around doors, windows, and other openings such as pipes or ducts, with caulk or weather-stripping. The most common places where air escapes in homes are:

floors, walls, ceilings
plumbing penetrations
fans and vents
electric outlets

1 Set thermostats between 65° and 70° during the winter, and at 58° when away from the house for more than a few hours. While sleeping, add an extra blanket to your bed for warmth. Bear in mind that warmer temperatures are recommended for homes with infants or ill or elderly persons.

2 Turn down thermostats automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing a programmable thermostat. Set the thermostat to 62° when you're not at home or when sleeping. Set the thermostat to 68° when at home. By turning your thermostat back 10°-15° for eight hours, you can save about 5%-15% a year on your heating bill - a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.

3 Change or clean furnace air filters once a month during the heating season. Furnaces consume less energy if they "breathe" more easily. Use the arrival of your natural gas bill as your reminder to change the filter.

4 Warm air rises, so use registers to direct warm airflow across the floor.

5 Close vents and doors in unused rooms and close dampers on unused fireplaces.

6 Set your water heater to 120° or the medium temperature setting. You'll enjoy energy savings without reducing comfort. A family of four, each showering for five minutes a day, uses 700 gallons of water each week. Not surprisingly, water heating is a typical family's third-largest energy expense, accounting for about 14% of the utility bill. Drain a quart of water from the bottom of your water heating tank every three months to remove sediment that can hamper the efficiency of your unit.

7 Install water-flow restrictors in showerheads and faucets.

8 If radiators are located near cold walls, place a sheet of aluminum foil between the radiator and the wall to reflect heat back into the room.

9 Run washing machines and clothes dryers with a full load.

10 On sunny days, let in the sun's warmth. Open draperies and blinds on windows that receive direct sunlight. Close them at night or on cloudy days to insulate against the cold air outside.

11 Wherever possible, replace your standard incandescent light bulbs with the new, energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs. You can get the same amount of light for about ¼ the amount of electricity. The EPA estimates that replacing one 100-watt standard bulb with one 25-watt fluorescent bulb will save about 100 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year. The purchase price of fluorescent bulbs may be higher than that of standard bulbs, but they last much longer - making them cost efficient as well as energy efficient.

Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law a stimulus bill, "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009," that made some significant changes to federal energy efficiency tax credits being offered.

Click Here to learn more about the federal tax credits being offered.

More fuel for thought: Life tips

  • Plant trees to shade your home. Start now, in a few years you'll have shade.
  • Recycle your water bottles. The vast majority of the 25 billion single-serve plastic bottles used each year end up in landfills.
  • Paper or plastic? Even better is a reusable cloth bag.
  • Don't top off the tank. It releases gas fumes into the air, which cancels the benefits of the pump's anti-pollution devices.
  • Your battery charger is warm because it's using power even when it isn't charging. Unplug it.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on home appliances, electronics and other products. ENERGY STAR® products save.
  • Eliminate idling. Warm up your vehicle by driving.
  • Most appliances in your home use electricity even when they are turned off! Save by unplugging appliances or simply turning off the power strip.
  • Reuse. Your junk might be someone's treasure. Try giving it away instead of tossing it out.
  • Get more detailed tips for your home and additional links from Energy Savers, a Department of Energy site.
  • The American Gas Association is a valuable resource for understanding the benefits and availability of clean, safe, reliable natural gas.
  • The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority offers energy-saving tips and information on selecting a contractor for your energy efficient upgrades.