Ready or not, here comes winter!

Oct. 27, 2017 -- Autumn has been exceptionally warm here in western Kentucky, but like it or not, winter is coming. Now is the perfect time to take steps to cut back your electrical usage this winter and those higher winter power bills. Here are some tips from West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative to get you started:

Home efficiency

  • Take advantage of heat from the sun. Open your curtains during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
  • Find and seal all air leaks. Check areas near pipes, gaps around chimneys, cracks near doors and windows and any unfinished places. Leaks can be plugged with weather-stripping, caulk, or expandable foam.
  • Maintain your heating system. Schedule services for your heating system before it gets too cold to find out what maintenance you may need to keep your system operating efficiently.
  • Check furnace filters. Be sure to clean or replace your heating and cooling system’s air filter. At a minimum change the filter every three months; a dirty filter clogs the system, making the system work harder to keep you warm.
  • Eliminate “vampire energy” waste. When you are not using an appliance or an electronic, unplug it to save energy. Power strips are definitely a good investment for your home.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. Is your home alone most of the day? Programmable thermostats can knock up to10 percent off heating bills with the ability to automatically turn temperatures down 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours a day.
  • Use a low-flow showerhead. About 14 percent of your energy bill funds water heating. Low-flow showerheads can minimize water use by up to 50 percent—a helpful change, especially when extended family members visit for the holidays.

Cooking efficiently

  • Be kind to your oven. Every time you open the oven door to check on that dish, the temperature inside is reduced by as much as 25 degrees. This forces the oven to use more energy in order to get back to the proper cooking temperature. Try keeping the door closed as much as possible. Also, remember to take advantage of residual heat for the last five to 10 minutes of baking time – this is another way to save energy use. If you’re using a ceramic or glass dish, you can typically set your oven 25 degrees lower than stated, since these items hold more heat than metal pans.
  • Give your burners some relief. The metal reflectors under your stovetop burners should always be clean. If not, this will prevent your stove from working as effectively as it should.
  • Utilize small appliances. During the holidays, the main appliances used are the oven and stovetop. Try using your slow cooker, microwave, and toaster oven or warming plate more often. This will result in substantial energy savings.

Efficient shopping

  • Purchase LED holiday lights. A string of traditional holiday lights uses 36 watts of power and a string of LED lights only uses 5 watts. They can also last up to 10 times longer!
  • Ask for Energy Star-rated TVs and appliances. This will save you a lot of power use because the standby-mode is lower and the device will use less energy overall.

Becoming more energy efficient and using less electricity is the key to reducing your winter power bills. This winter, start early! Don’t wait for your next electric bill to remind you to reduce your usage. Prevent your post-holiday shock this year by thinking creatively and remembering all of these tips!

To find more ways to save, take the home energy savings tour at www.TogetherWeSave.com.