Weatherizing tips from Energy Trust of Oregon

The crisp days of fall signal the start of rising energy costs for many homeowners as they turn on the heat and switch on the lights during the cooler, darker months. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to lower energy use and energy bills this season with help from Energy Trust of Oregon — a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and tapping renewable resources. For homeowners looking for the best places to begin saving energy at home, Energy Trust offers these suggestions:

  • Seal up places where air escapes and add insulation. Most homes waste up to 60 percent of the energy they use due to hidden energy wasters such as air leaks, duct leaks and lack of insulation in a home. Sealing air and duct leaks and adding insulation can dramatically increase comfort and save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs. Use caulk or spray foam to seal up small holes and cracks around plumbing pipes, exhaust fans, dryer vents, sink and bathtub drains, fireplaces and under countertops. Use weatherstripping and door sweeps to seal up drafty windows and doors.

    Insulating a home’s floors, walls and attic not only helps to reduce heating and cooling costs, but can also improve comfort throughout the year and reduce outside noise.

  • Turn down the heat. The heating system is the single biggest energy expense in most homes. To help save on costs, lower the heat at night or while the house is unoccupied. Homeowners and renters can save up to 3 percent for each degree of reduction. Using a programmable thermostat can help to make changes automatically. Be sure to check air filters every month during the heavy use months of fall and winter. At a minimum, change the filter every three months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder and waste energy.
  • Save water, save energy. Water heating is the second largest energy expense in most homes. In fact, 20-30 percent of a home’s energy is used to heat water. To help trim costs, set the water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees. Each 10 degree reduction in water temperature can save 3-5 percent in energy costs. When doing laundry, use the cold setting for both washing and rinsing. The biggest culprit is the daily shower, which can waste up to 2,300 gallons of water a year in an average household. Switching to a water-saving showerhead can save up to $44 a year in energy and water costs. A water-saving faucet aerator can save up to $15 a year.
  • Check lighting. Switching from traditional incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient lighting at home is the easiest, most cost-effective way consumers can save energy, money and protect the environment. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer.
  • Unplug and recycle an older, second refrigerator. Fridges and freezers built in the 1990s or earlier can guzzle up to $200 a year in energy costs. That’s a lot compared to today’s more energy-efficient models that can cost as little $40 a year to run. To schedule a home energy review or to learn more about energy incentives from Energy Trust of Oregon, visit or call 1-866-368-7878.

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