Take Steps to Save Energy this Winter with Help from Virginia Energy SenseBy: Andy Farmer, Virginia Energy Sense
Each year, Virginia Energy Sense conducts survey research to be better informed of where Virginians stand when it comes to saving energy at home. In the latest research findings, highlighted in our infographic available on our website, the likelihood of Virginians becoming more energy efficient slightly declined from 30% in 2019 to 25% in 2020, but that is due in part to an increasing proportion of Virginians taking steps to become energy efficient. For example, 38% of respondents said they’re adjusting the heat when not at home, up from 31% in 2019.
That shift in behavior is also reflected in Virginians’ energy saving habits in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to our latest survey, 92% of Virginians have already taken steps to reduce their energy consumption prior to the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has made many Virginians spend more time indoors, whether for work or remote learning, and that can cause energy usage to spike. In fact, 47% of respondents in our survey noted they are using more energy at home compared to just 6% who are using less energy than before the pandemic.
In addition to potential energy spikes with increased time indoors, the seasons have changed and temperatures are declining. Winter is here and if your home is not properly prepared for inclement weather, there’s a chance that your energy bill could increase. To help minimize your energy consumption at home during the colder months, Virginia Energy Sense has prepared a list of easy, do-it-yourself tips below.
Winter Energy Saving Tips
Reduce the heat – A great way to save on your energy bill is to lower the temperature of your hot water tank. Adjusting the temperature on your hot water tank by 10 degrees can save up to $9/month.
Reverse your fans – Since hot air rises, run your ceiling fans in reverse (clockwise) to circulate it back to floor level.
Utilize the sun – Open curtains and blinds on your west and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home. Close those curtains at night to retain heat.
Maintain your HVAC system – Replace dirty air filters in your furnace to keep your HVAC system running efficiently. A clogged filter will cause your system to work harder and expend more energy.
Seal air leaks – Reduce the likelihood of air leaks in your home by weather-stripping around doors and windows and caulking air leaks where plumbing or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors and ceilings.
Washing your clothes – Using cold water to wash your clothes might not sound like a lot but doing so can help you save up to $47/year on your energy bill.
Don’t block the heat – Move furniture away from your vents, radiators and heaters in order to allow heat to circulate throughout your home.
Switch to LEDs – Replace your old incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs that use up to 75% less energy and last several times longer.
Install a programmable thermostat – Adjust your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home to help keep your energy bill in check.
Use power strips – Plug in multiple devices like your laptop and TV to a power strip to easily turn off all devices when not in use with the flick of a switch.
Andy Farmer is the manager of Virginia Energy Sense, the Commonwealth’s statewide energy education program under the guidance of the State Corporation Commission.