Southern Delaware has experienced blistering weather this month, starting with Winter Storm Grayson that brought several inches of snow. With freezing temperatures and slippery roads, families need to keep warm but that means using more power at home and more gas in vehicles and having less money. To tip that balance, the DNREC Division of Energy and Climate has offered the following tips over the years to help families use less energy and save more money this winter and in some cases, year-round.
· Set thermostat/heater temperatures lower at night and during the day when no one is home. Turn the heat down an hour before bedtime or before leaving the house; when turning the heat up, do not turn it above its usual setting to warm the house faster.
· Instead of turning up the heat, put on a sweater or warmer socks, and keep throws or blankets on the couch for television and video games. Use warm winter bedding – flannel sheets, warm blankets, comforters or quilts – to keep the family comfortable with the house cooler at night. Snuggle up and save money.
· Pull shades or curtains at night to help keep cold out and open them during the day to let sun in.
· To feel warmer and alleviate dryness, increase home humidity using an energy-efficient humidifier or by evaporating water in containers on woodstoves, radiators or heat vents.
· Make sure all your windows are completely closed and latched. Check doors and windows for drafts and add weatherstripping if needed. A rolled-up towel makes a good temporary measure.
· Adding a programmable thermostat to your home’s HVAC system will allow you to set day and night temperatures automatically.
· Reduce heating in unoccupied areas and, if possible, close off rooms with the greatest northern exposure. Make family-gathering places in sunny or southern-facing rooms.
· To reduce energy usage inside your home, turn off or unplug any appliances or electronic devices (such as computers) when they are not in use. Turn off lights when not in use.
· When using the oven, plan to cook three or four items at a time for the same cost as one – and choose a day when everyone is home to enjoy the extra warmth and good scents in the kitchen.
· Use the dryer only for full loads, and separate loads into heavy and lightweight items to avoid using the machine longer than necessary to dry each type. Dry in consecutive loads; once the dryer is warm, it cuts down on initial energy consumption.
· If purchasing new or replacing older appliances, such as heaters, refrigerators, etc., look for the Energy Star rating.
· Save gas by improving your driving habits: accelerate from stops slowly, drive at moderate, steady speeds, and avoid unnecessary braking by coasting to red lights and anticipating traffic speed changes.
· Avoid idling as much as possible, including sitting in the car to keep warm and “warming up” the car in the morning. Idling wastes fuel and creates air pollution, so bundle up and be patient for heat when you hit the road.
· Drive fewer miles and save gas by planning those Saturday errands in the shortest circular route starting and ending at home, instead of traveling in random directions or making several trips. Plan for errands during the week such as picking up a few grocery items along the route you take home from work or school.
· Combine car trips with family, friends or neighbors, join a carpool or use public transportation if available.
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