Daylight Savings Time is over, a clear hint that the warm weather is past. Standing on the train station platform this morning removed any doubt for me; I needed my gloves. It got me thinking about what we can do when the temperature plunges to keep our homes more comfortable and spend less on heat at the same time.
The Globe published a good starter called How to winterize your home: A procrastinator’s manual with 8 tips. U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Savers Guide: Tips on Saving Money and Energy at Home is a great jumping-off point for lots of practical advice. The site makes a critical point for homeowners. To paraphrase:
The key to savings is to take a whole-house approach — view your home as an energy system with interdependent parts. For example, your heating system is not just a furnace — it's a heat-delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers heat throughout your home using a network of ducts (or pipes if you have a boiler). Even a top -of-the-line, energy efficient furnace or boiler will waste a lot of fuel if the ducts or pipes, walls, attic, windows, and doors are leaky or poorly insulated.
Start off with these tips and use the DOE site to gather details on specific topics such as insulation, lighting, appliances, even renewable energy options (my house now has photovoltaic panels on our roof, but that's another story):
- Install a programmable thermostat. Believe it or not, there are ones that are easy to use and no longer require a PhD (I've never figured out the one in our living room).
- Set your programmable thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and lower the setpoint when you're sleeping or away from home.
- Clean/replace filters on furnaces once a month or as recommended, and air vents, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed. Make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
- Eliminate trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if unsure about how to, contact a professional.
- Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
- Keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night.
- Check windows and doors for air leaks and seal/caulk any you find.
If you have an oil burner, check this tip sheet. The state's Home Heating Consumer Assistance web page has (hot) soup-to-nuts information on weatherization services and fuel assistance, as well as recommendations to minimize your winter heating bill. Mass Save® is the place to start for a home energy assessment that can lead to all sorts of money-saving opportunities.
Sure, we're New Englanders. We're tough and don't mind the cold (so much). Then again, we don't have anything to prove. Why not get comfortable and save some money, too? Might make any Patriots' losses easier to take.
Governor Baker Signs Comprehensive Energy Diversity Legislation posted on Aug 9
Today, in a continued effort to stabilize electric rates, ensure a diversified energy portfolio for the Commonwealth, and embrace advanced technologies, Governor Charlie Baker signed comprehensive energy diversity legislation into law at the State House with Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, legislative leaders, and energy and …Continue Reading Governor Baker Signs Comprehensive Energy Diversity Legislation
Daylighting: The Bright Way to Save posted on Feb 11
Have you ever noticed that lighting can change your mood, depending on whether it’s natural or artificial? Going beyond occupancy sensors, the right lighting mix can also reduce energy consumption and save homeowners and commercial building operators’ money by using natural light with coordinated design. …Continue Reading Daylighting: The Bright Way to Save
CoFFEE Funds Sustain Greenfield Community College posted on Feb 2
Greenfield Community College (GCC) is the first Commonwealth facility to complete an energy efficiency project through the Commonwealth Facility Fund for Energy Efficiency (CoFFEE), a self-sustaining revolving loan program for state facilities. Through a partnership between the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) …Continue Reading CoFFEE Funds Sustain Greenfield Community College