BY JODIE TWEED
Fall has arrived and winter is just around the corner. Now is the perfect time to complete those home improvement projects that will make your home more energy efficient, yet comfortable during the winter months — ultimately reducing your utility bills.
Most homeowners don’t know where to begin. One of the best starting points in reducing energy costs is through water conservation.
Most low-flow fixtures cost around $10 to $20 each and can provide a water savings of 25 percent to 60 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. It can cut your water consumption in half.
Karin Anderson of Schroeder’s Appliance Center in Baxter said purchasing an energy efficient washer can save most homeowners at least $145 a year on their energy costs. Most new appliances on the market, from dishwashers to refrigerators, are considered energy efficient and can save homeowners money.
Anderson said the new ozone laundry systems are selling well at Schroeder’s this fall. The small machine cleans your laundry with only ozone and cold water — no laundry detergent.
The machine costs less than $400, hooks up to your existing washer and Anderson said it lasts about 10 to 12 years. She said ozone is 150 percent more effective than bleach at cleaning clothing and leaves nothing behind that is harmful to the environment.
The systems have been used commercially for years, but are now available to retail customers. The average family could save about $45 to $75 a year in hot water costs alone, according to the manufacturer.
“Everyone who buys them is thrilled. I’m getting one for my house,” Anderson said with a laugh. “They’re great because you don’t have to buy detergent, you’re saving on hot water and they work for either high efficiency or regular machines.”
Install a smart
A smart thermostat allows you to easily manage your heating and cooling systems and make temperature adjustments when no one is home. You can download reports on your energy usage and monitor your thermostat from anywhere, at any time, online.
Conduct an energy audit
A great way to find out how you can make your home more energy efficient is by having an energy audit. Crow Wing Power has energy advisers who can visit a member’s home or speak with them on the phone to help find ways to save both energy and money. Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power and other companies offer similar audits often at reduced rates for their customers.
Seal up the leaks
About half of your home’s heat or cooled air ends up escaping through leaks around your windows, roof, floors and walls if they aren’t properly insulated.
A spot thermometer or infrared gun will help you find those leaks where you need to add more insulation.
Purchase smart strips
for each room
Even when you aren’t using your television, computer, DVD player or other electronic devices, those machines are still drawing power and costing you money each month.
Plugging everything on smart power strips can save electricity. For about $20, you can purchase a Kill A Watt energy monitoring device that will tell you how much energy your devices are consuming, especially when you’re not using them.
(Jodie Tweed is a freelance writer who lives in Pequot Lakes with her husband and three daughters.)