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Go for the Gold in Energy-Efficient Home Heating

February 12, 2014 - 10:22am

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Champion energy efficiency in your home this year. | Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/technotr

Champion energy efficiency in your home this year. | Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/technotr

For me, the first words that come to mind when thinking about the 2014 Winter Olympics are: athlete, champion, youthful, and energy. Generally, I think of the energy of the Olympics to be seen and felt in the crowd and the athletes as they vie for the coveted gold, silver, and bronze metals.

In addition to the energy of the crowd and athletes, the Olympic Games can also tell us a lot about energy consumption. Nearly 50 large-scale energy projects were undertaken when building the Olympic infrastructure in Sochi, Russia, in an effort to increase energy capacity in the region by 800%. Russia’s bid for the XXII Olympic Winter Games also included a pledge to follow green building standards and have a “zero waste” event by implementing efficiency measures and renewable energy generation. 

As the Olympics strive to be more energy efficient, we can champion the same effort in our homes and become energy saving Olympians. One of the biggest places to save energy (and money!) in February is when heating your home. This year, temperatures across most of the nation have been colder than the average of the previous 10 winters, pushing the price of heating fuels upward. The U.S. Energy Information Administration now expects propane prices in the Midwest to be, on average, 39% more than last year.

To help combat these rising costs, try these three tips to get you ready for your own 2014 Energy Saving Olympic Games:

Compete with last year’s bill. My apartment is heated with electricity. Every month when my electricity bill comes, I tear it open to compare my kWh use to the same month of last year. Last night my electric bill came for the month of January, and I was excited to see that I had consumed approximately 17% less electricity than in the same period last year. How did yours compare?

Judge your home’s energy consumption. You don’t have to wait until the utility bill comes to know how much energy you have consumed. Reading a residential electric and/or natural gas meter may sound like a daunting task, but in reality it is simple. Some consumers even have access to Smart Meters, which tell you how much energy you are using and even what time of the day you are using it. Once you have this information you can use it to baseline your future use and know when you are using too much too quickly.

Participate in weatherization qualifiers. Weatherization is a growing industry that saves American families money by saving energy and creates jobs for home energy auditors and residential contractors. Weatherization measures can be as simple as installing weather stripping around windows and doors or can include installing insulation, new windows, and air sealing your home. By making the efficiency upgrades identified in a home energy audit, you could save between 5%-30% percent on your home energy bills.

As the month progresses, check back for more tips and tricks to save you energy and money. Let the games begin!

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