01/21/14: Jennifer Alldredge

Generating Change: Winter Tips

Winter is officially here, and with shorter amounts of daylight and cooler temperatures, utility bills can climb quickly.  Watch out for that "grinchy" Energy Hog – he'd like to steal your dollars!  Here are a few tips for an energy efficient winter:

  1. If you have curtains or blinds, close them at the end of the day to keep out any chill from colder windows.  Be sure to open them in the morning, especially on south facing windows to allow natural heating.
  2. Check your windows and doors for drafts – if cold air is seeping in, your HVAC system is working overtime.  Alert your maintenance department, feel free to check out for a student "worm warmer" project while you wait for needed weather stripping or other corrective action.
  3. If you'd like to brighten rooms without adding more lights, try adding a small mirror near lighting.  It will brighten the space without increasing your energy use.
  4. Lights near thermostat controls are big energy hogs!  If you bring in a free-standing lamp, be sure you place it in the right location--and away from a thermostat.  The heat from lights make your thermostat "think" the room is warmer than it is - which will make you colder and probably cause you to turn up the temperatures.  Don't overwork your heating system – it will save you energy and maintenance. 
  5. Using power strips or surge protectors for multiple appliances is always a great way to help with energy efficiency because you only have to turn off one switch.  But remember - safety first!  Never run electrical/extension cords under carpets and avoid "daisy chaining" any power strips or surge protectors.

Planning to entertain this winter? 

Here are a few kitchen tips, suitable for school cafeterias and food/nutrition classes as well.

  1. Did you know it costs five times more to use an oven to cook than a microwave?  Compare the size of the space inside an oven to that of a microwave.  Then check out a recipe - cooking in a microwave is probably faster, and could save you energy!   If you must use an oven, don't peek - opening the oven door can lower temperatures by 25 degrees, slowing your cooking and wasting energy.  Try using glass or ceramic pans; you can lower your oven by 25 degrees.
  2. Do your pots and pans match the size of your burner?  Check them out.  If your pot fits the smaller burner no need to turn on the larger one.  You'll save energy and your kitchen won't get so warm from all the unnecessary heat from the larger burner!  A 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste over 40 percent of the energy. 
  3. Did you know that your refrigerator typically accounts for around 10% of a home’s electricity bill?  About 1/3 of a refrigerator’s cold air can escape when the door is open, which is why a closed door keeps energy costs down.  Also, keeping your fridge or freezer full means there's less air to keep cold, and less air to lose when you open the door.  How full is your freezer?  What's the temperature setting?  The best temperatures for refrigerators are between 36 and 39, and for freezers between 0 and 5 (degrees Fahrenheit).

If you're looking for more energy savings tips now and throughout the year, let us know!  Feel free to contact Jennifer Alldredge for more great ways to save.  Remember – you have the power to save!