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Energy Awareness Month: Energy Efficiency Tips

Published October 10, 2023

October is Energy Awareness Month, and we’re here to provide all the tips you could need to help you save money on your energy bill while being as energy efficient as possible.

The cold months are slowly settling in, and that means taking a few steps to prep for winter. Check out our list of energy saving tips for Fall and Winter below. You can find our energy savings tips for every season here.

Fall & Winter Energy Savings Tips

  1. Adjust your thermostat. One of our top tips for energy consumers with a furnace: set the temperature at 68 degrees when you are awake and turn it down (up to 10 degrees) while you are away or asleep. Be sure to never lower the temperature below 55 degrees to prevent frozen pipes.
  2. Use a programmable or smart thermostat to control when your furnace turns on and off throughout the day.
  3. Use the sun. Open your curtains and blinds throughout the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home.
  4. Check windows and doors for leaks and seal leaks before the cold weather arrives.
  5. Have your furnace/boiler serviced each year, and change furnace filters regularly. This will ensure the unit is running safely and efficiently.
  6. Use space heaters safely and efficiently. Space heaters can be expensive to run. Only have space heaters on when you are in the room and keep items around them at a safe distance. 
  7. Inspect and clean your fireplace. Make sure your fireplace is safe. Close fireplace dampers when you are not using them to prevent heat from escaping.
  8. Layer up. Warm clothes, blankets, and socks are key in the cold months. Rugs are another great way to help your home feel warmer.
  9. Cook and bake efficiently. Use lids on pots and pans to reduce cooking time. Bake multiple things at once. Use crockpots, toaster ovens, and microwaves to save energy.
  10. Keep fridge and freezers full, but not crowded. If your fridge or freezer is empty, fill milk jugs with water to fill up space, and throw out old food if it’s too full.
  11. Inspect and clean your fireplace. Make sure your fireplace is safe. Close fireplace dampers when you are not using the fireplace to prevent heat from escaping.
  12. Redirect ceiling fans. Switch the rotation of ceiling fans to clockwise and operate them at a slow rate to circulate warm air down from the ceiling.
  13. Celebrate the holidays with LED lights. If you decorate with lights, purchase LED holiday lights, and keep them on timers.

Year-Round Energy Tips

  • LED Bulbs: LED bulbs use 85% less energy than incandescent light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are so energy inefficient that most have been phased out in the United States. Now’s the time to switch out older bulbs for LEDs – and your utility may offer a rebate to offset the cost of switching.
  • Programmable Thermostat: Programmable thermostats allow you to automatically change the temperature of your home according to your schedule. For example, you can program your thermostat to drop a few degrees while you’re sleeping or away from home. Programmable thermostats are a relatively cheap and efficient way to take control of your home energy use.
  • Air Leaks & Weatherization: Minnesota has wild fluctuations in weather, from hot and humid summers to arctic winters. Making sure your home is properly sealed and prepped for all weather conditions will reduce both your energy consumption and your monthly bill. If you qualify for Energy Assistance, you may qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) which can offset the costs of any projects.
  • Phantom Energy: Yes, some of your household appliances and gadgets do use energy when they’re not in use. Gaming systems, televisions, and appliances with LED displays are notorious culprits. Unplug your devices when you’re not using them; use power strips to manage multiple energy suckers at once.

Rebate Programs

Most utilities in Minnesota offer rebate programs to help offset the cost of energy efficiency upgrades, from a change as simple as switching to LED bulbs, to major appliance replacement and upgrades. Check out our Save Money & Energy resource for a list of rebate programs offered by your utility. If your utility isn’t listed, contact them directly for more information.

Home Energy Audits

Before you begin any major home energy improvements, consider scheduling a home energy audit through your utility. An audit can both help you figure out what appliances in your home may need fixing, upgrading, or replacing, and identify quick projects to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Your utility may offer discounted audits. Below is a partial list of utility home energy audit programs. If you don’t see your utility listed, contact them directly.

Xcel Energy
Minnesota Power
Minnesota Energy Resources (MERC)
Otter Tail Power
Great Plains
Greater Minnesota

Author: James Birr

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