Tips to save money on propane or gas during extreme cold temperatures
With another round of extreme cold temperatures this week, it's one more blow to the wallet for families already facing high propane and gas prices this winter.
While turning down or off the heat is the simple solution to cutting those expensive energy bills this month, its not necessarily the practical solution for people living in the upper Mid West.
"We all know that you're going to need heat, especially in our climate. It's not like we can just turn off the heat and just hope for the best weather because it's going to be cold—that's South Dakota. But the best options we see is asking how can I be more efficient," said Jamison Reginek, the sustainability coordinator for the City of Sioux Falls.
Some big ways you can make sure your home is more efficient is taking a look at your hardware. How efficient is your furnace, your water heater and your windows? If they're not up to date, replacing them could save you a lot of money in heating and cooling down the road.
If those kind of big expenses are not an option right now, there are also quite a few easy, inexpensive steps you can take to make your home more efficient right now.
"Really taking a look at different windows you have and making sure they are covered during the night time, making sure they have a plastic shield on the interior and even the exterior. Both of those things can keep air from leaking into the home...open up windows during morning and during the day time because natural light will be able to keep your house a little bit warmer during the day," said Reginek.
"Windows are definitely a main cause of heat loss but there can be other areas in the walls or in the foundation that can lead to heat loss as well," said Jessica Lantgen, a sustainability technician for the City of Sioux Falls.
That's why its very important to go through your entire home with caulking or even putty of some kind to help seal any of those leaks, holes or cracks where heat can escape. A tightly sealed home will help keep the cold outside and the heat inside where its most needed this winter.
Also, a simple $20-$30 purchase of a new programmable thermostat this winter can help you save a big chunk of money on your energy bills by automatically adjusting the temperature to your schedule.
"If your able to set your thermostat back during your eight hour day while you're out at work, you will see about ten percent cost savings if your able to reduce it by ten degrees over an eight hour period," said Reginek.
In fact, changing your thermometer just one degree can account for one percent of your total bill. With the programmable thermostat, you can schedule a desired temperature for when you wake up the morning, when you leave during the day, return in the evening an go to sleep at night.
If you're really struggling with your propane or natural gas bill right now, its not just your furnace you need to worry about.
"Your heat for heating your water is actually one of the major sources of your gas and propane bills, a lot of times it can account for up to fifteen percent of your total energy consumption," said Reginek.
On those really cold winter days like we're experiencing this week, nothing feels better than a steaming hot shower, but the hotter your water, the higher bill you'll see at the end of the month.
So setting your water heater to a reasonable setting of around 120 degrees will use less energy to heat the water in your home over the winter.
The second step to saving energy on hot water is actually conserving your hot water use. Water saving shower heads, dish washers and clothes washer mean you'll use less hot water, which will save you money on both your heating and water bill. The City of Sioux Falls also has some extra incentives for using efficient machines.
"We offer a rebate actually through the City of Sioux Falls for high efficiency, high energy efficiency water washers and dryers so not only are you able to save a little on the energy and heating bills of that water but also your able to save a little bit on the actual water bill in general," said Reginek.
No matter what machine if you have, if your clothes can handle it, using a cold wash throughout the winter will also help you save money on your propane and gas bill.
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