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Could your home be more energy efficient?
State Sen. Chuck Wiger
Fall is here and winter is right around the corner. As we clean out the gutters one last time, rake up our leaves and put our lawn mowers away, we should also be thinking about weatherizing our houses for the winter. There are a number of projects we can do around the house that can save hundreds of dollars.
Thankfully, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has some useful tips to get us started. The following is its “10 Ways to Save Energy, and other stuff too”:
• Have an Energy Audit—An Energy Audit (or Home Performance Review) will give you an evaluation of your energy use, insulation levels, air leakage and mechanical systems.
• Seal Air Leaks—An enormous amount of energy is wasted when inside air (either heated or cooled) escapes to the outside through leaks in attics, walls, windows, and doors.
• Check Mechanical Systems—Water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, gas fire places, and ventilation systems should be inspected and tuned-up to keep them operating efficiently and safely.
• Heat Efficiently—Replacing old inefficient systems with new high efficiency options makes the most sense.
• Use a Programmable Thermostat—If you adjust your thermostat 1 degree (down in winter, up in summer) for 16 hours a day, you can save 2 percent of your fuel bill.
• Control Hot Water Use—Not only do you save the energy to heat all that water, you save the water, too.
• Replace Light Bulbs—A CFL bulb can save $30 over the life of the bulb in energy costs.
• Use Outlet Switches—Standby power or “phantom load” is the electricity that flows through appliances and devices when they are turned “off”—up to 40 percent of “on” for some things!
• Install Timers/Motion Detectors—Why keep things on when you aren’t using them?
• Buy ENERGY STAR—ENERGY STAR products are the same or better than standard products, only they use less energy.
For more information, visit the Department of Commerce’s energy page at http://mn.gov/commerce/energy/. As we search for ways to improve our energy consumption, every little bit helps. I encourage you to see what you can change this fall as we prepare for another Minnesota winter.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue. I encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 651-296-6820.