Lowering your home’s energy bill doesn’t have to mean dropping your thermostat and piling on sweatshirts and blankets.
One Wenatchee, Washington couple found that out after making a few changes to their home. Now, they say, they’re more comfortable than ever, and conserving more energy.
Shirley and Richard Ehrenberg have lived in their home for about 15 years. But they recently took on some energy efficient projects, like:
- Adding insulation in the walls and behind the outlets. “Those light switches in the wall, you don’t realize that there’s air moving through them, pulling heat out of the home,” Richard said.
- Updating to a programmable thermostat.
- Replacing metal-framed windows with better-insulated ones. This was the most expensive project for the Ehrenbergs. “It’s such a long-term thing. One you make the investment, the long-term benefits are wonderful,” Shirley said.
- Sealing around windows and doors and added weather-stripping.
- Closing the fireplace damper. “That helps because there is a lot of heat that’s lost that just goes up the chimney,” Shirley said.
The retired couple enjoys relaxing in their living room. In the evening they listen to music softly play. Their favorite brown recliner sits right next to a sliding glass door. Shirley said the draft used to chill her in the winter.
“You could hear the whistle of it between those two door pieces. And now with that little bit of insulation there, it stopped that and the draft. And it’s so much warmer to sit in that chair now,” Shirley said.
Many public utilities in the Pacific Northwest are promoting energy conservation — like utilities inBoise, Seattle and Portland.
Susan Gillin is a spokeswoman with the Chelan County Public Utility District. She said most ways to weatherize your home are relatively inexpensive. Insulation and caulking around the windows will get you the biggest bang for your buck. New windows and doors cost the most.
“It’s not just all do without or sacrifice. It really isn’t. If you think about the comfort that you gain from adding some of these things to your home, or taking small measures to improve your energy efficiency, it’s really a win-win,” Gillin said.
Gillin said central Washington’s Chelan County has the second lowest electricity prices in the nation, 3.2 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s due in part to the Public Utility District owning and operating three hydropower dams. But, she said, saving energy still helps.
“Little things mean a watt,” Gillin joked. “Even with school kids we emphasize things like turn off the lights when you leave the room. Don’t leave all your TVs going. When you’re playing Xbox, be sure to shut it off. Every little step that people can take really helps.”
Shirley and Richard Ehrenberg said they’re also using less energy in the summer. They said the $4,250 spent on energy conservation is adding up.
“It might be an initial investment, but if you’re going to live in your home for any length of time, it’s something that really is a very good investment. Just for the comforts to begin with and then for the energy conservation,” Richard said.
The Erhenbergs’ conservation project didn’t just lower their utility bill. It also helped them win their local utility’s Reduce Your Use Contest. Eight other central Washington homeowners participated in the competition. Their combined energy savings over one winter was enough to power one home for an entire year.