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7 Ways to Save Energy This Winter

Book in front of fireplace in MaineLet's face it, Maine can get pretty chilly in the winter. As proud Mainers, we're used to winter weather and we even embrace it.  This time of year brings activities like skiing and ice skating, and a chance to relax in front of the fireplace with friends and family.

So, whether you are interested in reducing your footprint on the environment, or you just want to save a little bit of money, there are plenty of reasons to reduce your home's energy usage this winter. Here are seven great ways to conserve energy (and stay warm!) over the next few months:

  1. Adjust your water heater setting: Did you know that water heating accounts for almost 20% of home energy usage? Reduce energy costs by lowering the max. temperature of your water heater to the "warm" setting or about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, you'll save money and avoid burning your hands.

  2. Use LED holiday lights: Light-emitting diode or "LED" decorative lights are drastically more efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs. LED light strings are also safer because they run much cooler and are made with break-resistant epoxy lenses.

  3. Fill your home with warm accessories: Area rugs and curtains not only help decorate your home, but also help keep it insulated. Rather than turning up the thermometer every time you're in need of a little warmth, consider reaching for things like blankets, sweatshirts and slippers.

  4. Locate and Seal Air Leaks: While there are ways to find air leaks on your own, the best way to identify seal gaps in your home is to hire a technician to perform an energy audit. You can find more information about Maine professional home energy audits here.

  5. Keep your furnace clean: The furnace is possibly the most important piece of heating equipment in your home, but many homeowners do not give this device the attention it needs. Generally, furnace filters should be changed every two months, but this can change based on your home's location, size and residents. If you have a pet that sheds, or have someone living in your home that is sensitive to mold and dust, you'll want to change your filter more frequently. Make sure furnace vents are kept clean and unblocked at all times.

  6. Keep an eye on the thermostat: The thermostat is not a "set it and forget it" appliance. The US Department of Energy suggests that homeowners can save about 10% on annual heating costs by turning down the thermostat down 10-15 degrees for 8 hours each day. For many people, the best time to do this is at night while they sleep. Also, have a discussion with the other members of your household to set expectations and rules for adjusting the thermostat so the temperature of your home is not constantly in flux.

  7. Use your fireplace properly: A traditional wood fireplace is a favorite winter feature in many homes. If you use your fireplace appropriately, it can help save energy costs and creates a festive feel in the home. Make sure that the fireplace damper or flue is closed unless a fire is burning or about to be lit. While the fireplace is in use, lower the thermostat to about 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not leave an active fireplace unattended; this is foremost for safety reasons, but also, if you're going to burn a fire, you might as well take full advantage of its warmth.

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