Residential Energy Saving Tips
Farmington Electric Utility customers do enjoy a moderate semi-arid climate with all four seasons. Because of our four seasons, customers can expect to use more electricity during the coldest and warmest months of the year. Customers tend to have appliances that are “seasonal” such as portable heaters and evaporative coolers. Surprising to many customers, however, is how some home appliances (i.e. waterbeds and refrigerators) that are used year round can actually use more during times of the year when outdoor temperatures are extreme. The following tips for the winter and summer seasons will give some insight into some of the most misunderstood appliances used in the home with some helpful tips on how to better control energy costs.
Central forced warm air electric heating can cost $300 to $500 to heat a home per winter month. A savings of 3% to 5% can be realized each month for every degree the room thermostat is lowered. Caution when looking for a rental apartment or a home to buy, always ask to see the prior occupant’s electric utility bills to be sure the cost of heating, cooling and water heating will fit within your family budget.
A portable electric heater can increase your monthly power bill as much as $90.00 (1080 kWh) during the winter. Use sparingly if needed.
Electric water heaters can cost $40 or more a month…especially during the cold winter months when heat loss from the tank is greatest and the temperature of the water flowing into the tank is coldest. Turning down the heating element thermostat(s) by 10 degrees can save you as much as $10 monthly. Repairing hot water leaks can save 10’s of dollars monthly. Install an insulation jacket to minimize water tank heat loss if located in an unheated space.
A queen size waterbed set at 90 degrees with a room temperature of 60 degrees can cost as much as $18 (225 kWh) monthly. Reducing the waterbed setting just 10 degrees can save about $5 monthly during the winter. Insulate the waterbed daily with layers of blankets or a comforter to keep the bed (not the Bedroom) heated.
Older and less efficient hot tubs can cost $40 (500 kWh) or more monthly during the winter if the tub is located outside or is in an unheated room. With a hot tub setting of 104 degrees during the winter and with a summer setting of 100 degrees, your prorated cost and usage should average about $20 (250 kWh). Be advised to use an insulated cover and lower the thermostat setting to minimize costly heat loss. New electric models have been reported to be nearly twice as efficient as the older models.
Heat tape for winter freeze prevention of exposed plumbing comes in lengths ranging from 3 feet (15 watts) to 100 feet (500 watts). The longer the heat tape, the more electricity that will be used. It is important to purchase only what you need for the length of pipe that is exposed to prevent freezing.
Heating bills can be reduced by 10’s of dollars each winter month by controlling your room temperature with a setback thermostat. A setback thermostat can be easily programmed to automatically lower the temperature of your home when your family is at work or at school and during the night when everyone is asleep.
An electric blanket using only about 30 kWh ($2.50) of electricity per month with the furnace thermostat turned back to 65 degrees can mean big savings compared to continually heating the whole house to 72-75 degrees while sleeping.
Many customers use high wattage incandescent light bulbs as heaters to keep outdoor pets warm and pump house pipes from freezing. A 300-watt light bulb will cost about $16.15 (216 kWh) monthly if left on continuously. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the doghouse or area trying out different bulbs to determine which size will adequately do the job.
Use evaporative coolers. The Four Corners area lends itself well to using evaporative “swamp” cooling. Refrigerated air conditioners can cost 5 to 8 times more to operate than evaporative coolers. Here are some tips to increase comfort and reduce cooling costs when running your evaporative cooler. Replace the “on/off” cooler switch with a thermostat control. Running the cooler continuously with the “on/off’ switch can cause uncomfortable temperature swings in the home…too cold when running the cooler constantly and too warm when switched off for too long. The thermostat will automatically cycle the cooler unit according to the desired comfort in your home….and will save $$ on summer electric bills due to less running time of the cooler. Open the windows in those rooms that you want to cool….and closing shades and drapes of south and west oriented windows to reduce summer sun heat gain. Install window mounted evaporative coolers toward the center of the house and on the east or north side of the house where there is more shade. The water in a shaded cooler tray will not get as hot from the summer sun and the home will stay more comfortable.
Reducing the cost of refrigerated air conditioning (A/C). Set the thermostat on your refrigerated air conditioner at 78 degrees F during the summer. You can save 5% of the energy used by your air conditioner for every degree you raise the thermostat for settings set between 70 degrees F and 82 degrees F. Close the windows and doors. A house cooled with refrigerated air should have all windows and doors shut and shades and drapes pulled for south and west facing windows. Refrigerated air systems are self-contained and do not require the house to be ventilated as with homes cooled with evaporative coolers. Replace A/C filters as needed to maintain operating efficiency. A clogged filter restricts the cooled air from circulating through the house, wearing out the compressor, and could add as much as 5% more to your already expensive cooling cost.
Reducing the cost of running refrigerators and freezers. Locate refrigerators and freezers in a cool room with ventilation. Either appliance will use up to 24% more energy in a room that is 95 degrees F compared to on that is 75 degrees F. Refrigerator thermostats should be set between 38 degrees F and 42 degrees F. Freezer thermostats should be set between 0 degrees F and 5 degrees F. Keep cold air in! Make sure the door seals tightly and gaskets are in good shape. Turn the power switch “off”. This feature is designed to minimize frost build-up in frost-free refrigerators and freezers located in rooms and climates that are humid. Food retains cold better than air. Keep the refrigerator and freezer at least half filled with food. Yes, the old standby of putting water filled milk jugs is still a good energy saving tip.
Important Tip To All Customers: When shopping for a home or apartment to rent or purchase, ask to see the utility bills for the past 12 months. Unaffordable monthly utility bills could turn your dream home into a nightmare. Homes that have refrigerated air conditioning, electric heating, and/or electric water heating can be very expensive.