Follow these low cost efficiency tips to reduce energy bills

Not everyone can replace their furnace with an air-source heat pump, but there are still ways to save energy and your hard-earned dollars. Whether you’re renting or on a tight budget, these seven low-cost efficiency tips can help you reduce your energy bills.

  1. Mind the thermostat. You may be able to trim your energy bill by carefully managing the temperature in your home. The Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat to 68 degrees F on winter days. You can save more energy by turning down the thermostat even lower at night or when no one is home. The same principle works in reverse during summer months. Just set the thermostat higher to reduce your energy use for air conditioning.

  2. Go programmable. If you don’t always remember to adjust your thermostat manually, you could benefit from a programmable model. When set correctly, programmable thermostats can save $150 a year. Some programmable thermostats can even be managed from your smartphone or other devices. Keep in mind, if you’re a renter, you should consult your landlord prior to purchase.

  3. Try zone heating.  If you don’t mind less-used rooms being colder, you might be able to save energy (and money!) by zone heating. Electric baseboards make it easy because they typically have thermostat settings on the units or in each room. Portable electric space heaters can also be a good tool for zone heating if they’re used safely and wisely in the area you spend the most time. Keep in mind, if you’re using space heaters, you’ll need to reduce the heating you’re supplying to the rest of the home. Also remember that space heaters that are used incorrectly can be dangerous and increase energy costs.

  4. Stop air leaks. Small gaps around windows, doors, wiring and plumbing penetrations can be major sources of energy loss. This problem can be alleviated with a little weather stripping and caulk, but if you rent, check with your landlord before you get started. Better yet, convince the landlord to do the work! A $10 door draft stopper (also known as a “door snake”) is a simple way to block gaps underneath exterior doors. Sealing air leaks around your home could shave up to one-fifth off your heating and cooling bills.

  5. Manage your windows and window coverings. Your windows may be letting heat out during the winter and letting heat in during the summer. Window coverings like medium or heavy-weight curtains and thermal blinds can help. On cold winter days, window coverings can keep warmth inside and improve comfort. Opening up window coverings when you’re receiving direct sunlight is a “passive solar” technique that can help cut your heating costs, too. You can also cover windows with clear plastic to reduce heat loss and air leaks. During the summer, keep window coverings closed to block the sun and to keep windows from heating the cooler indoor air.

  6. Look for energy wasters. Keep water heaters at the warm setting (120°F). Wash dishes and clothes on the most economical settings that will do the job and always wash full loads. Use the microwave instead of the oven when possible. These simple steps will add up to savings on your energy bill.

  7. Landlords (and others) can help. Consider talking to your landlord about additional ways to save, like installing better insulation, energy efficient windows or heating systems. These types of investments add appeal to rentals and ultimately improve the value of the property. A home energy audit is the best way to identify areas for energy efficiency improvements and is a great way to start a conversation with your landlord about potential improvements. Contact your electric provider to see if they offer energy audits or if they can recommend someone local.

Information from South Dakota Rural Electric Association
February 2019