Start warm-weather savings on first nice day

The weather outside can be as frightful in March as in January some days, but the early spring usually sneaks in a few warm-weather days here and there. Take advantage of them.
Early spring features plenty of days when you can turn off your furnace and treat your home—and its occupants—to a taste of the pleasant weather to come. Here’s how to take advantage of early glimpses of spring—and save some household energy while you’re at it:
• Open the windows. If it’s warm enough to let some fresh air in during this in-between season of no heaters and no air conditioners, do it. Leave the windows open overnight to air out the house and stave off the need for the a/c.
• Let the sunshine in. Open the drapes on sunny days and let nature keep your home warm. As it starts getting hot, though, cover windows up so incoming sunrays won’t compete with the a/c.
• Cook outdoors. Dust off the grill and start cookout season early this year.
• Switch the direction of the blades on your ceiling fan. For warm weather, the blades should rotate counterclockwise.
• Readjust your water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees if you cranked it up a few degrees for the winter.
• Schedule your home’s a/c maintenance now, before you need to turn on the air conditioning for the summer. Read More


Don’t ignore water heater

Your water heater works hard all year round to make sure your family can take hot showers, rinse caked-on food off of pots and pans in the dishwasher and wash your clothes at any temperature you choose.
During the winter, however, the water heater works even harder. Cold weather means it has to spend extra energy to heat water. Extra showers, laundry and dirty dishes during the holiday season means it has to heat more tanks of water to keep up.
So don’t ignore it. Like any appliance, your water heater needs attention and maintenance to stay in good working condition.
1. Take a look. Most homeowners don’t look at their water heaters until there’s a problem, but a glance every now and then could keep those problems at bay. If the outside of the tank is rusting; if water is leaking from it or if you see rusty water stains on the floor surrounding it, call a plumber right away.
2. Reset the temperature. It’s easier than you think to accidentally raise or lower the temperature setting on a water heater, just by knocking it with a mop while you’re cleaning the floor, for example. Verify that the appliance is set to 120 degrees. You’ll notice a difference in the water temperature in the shower if it’s too low or too high.
3. Insulate the water heater. Insulating the pipes and tanks will keep heat inside the tank and prevent it from escaping into the air. Consider investing in an inexpensive water heater blanket, usually made from foil or fiberglass. It will help the tank maintain a consistent temperature. A tip: Leave it on year-round.
4. Call for service. An annual “flush” will remove sediment and minerals that can build up in the tank and reduce the heater’s efficiency and lifespan.
 Read More


Save energy in home office

The gig economy has more people working from their homes instead of commuting to offices. If you’re one of them, consider making over your home office with energy-efficient features.
• Turn your computer off when you’re finished working for the day. It's tempting to leave your computer on for quick access, but it's unnecessary to leave it on 24/7. If you will be away from work for more than two hours, shut it down.
• Enable the power management features on your computer. These are the features that automatically put your computer into standby mode when not in use.
• Shut off printers, copiers, scanners and other large equipment when not in use. Plug them into one power strip to shut them off with one flick of the switch. If you often forget to turn them off, use a power strip with a timer to power down each night.
• When buying new equipment, look for the Energy Star label on all computers and printers. Choose equipment that does double duty—like a printer than also scans and copies, for instance. That way, you’ll have fewer devices to plug into the wall.
• Though you may be home all day, it's a waste to heat the whole house when you are spending time in only one room. Instead, lower your home’s thermostat and use a portable space heater just for your office.
 Read More