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How do you save energy in the fall?

With cozy sweaters, pumpkin carving, and crisp breezes, it’s no surprise that many Americans proclaim fall as their favorite time of the year. Autumn brings people close together to celebrate family, holidays, and yummy food – including everything pumpkin!

But while you enjoy cooler weather and a break from the summer humidity, remember that you might need to make some changes to your energy-saving habits.

Follow the tips below to stay warm and save energy this fall:

  • Keep your thermostat at or below 68 degrees. Regulating the temperature in your home is important and can save you money. The Department of Energy suggests turning back your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day to save up to 10% on heating costs. If you set your temperature to 68 degrees while at home and lower the temperature before going to bed, your HVAC system will have less work to do, resulting in lower energy consumption. Managing the temperature of your home is even easier with a programmable thermostat or a thermostat that you can control from your phone.
  • Check for cracks, leaks, and drafts. Air leakage occurs because of cracks or gaps in in windows, doors and walls and can lead to higher monthly energy rates because it lets heat escape and cold air enter. Before it gets too cold, it’s important to check all your doors and windows for air leakage that could keep your heater running overtime. If your front or back door has space between it and the floor, add weather stripping to the bottom or use caulk to seal the gap. This will prevent excess heat from escaping and could keep your heater from running up your energy bill. Also, be sure to check out the exterior or your home – it’s common to find gaps or cracks around windows and doors or where different building materials meet.
  • Take note of your fireplace. Speaking of air leakage, your fireplace may also need a little extra attention. If you aren’t cozied up by the fire, keep the fireplace damper closed. When the damper is open and there isn’t a fire burning, warm air can escape through the chimney. You should also consider purchasing energy efficient fireplace grates – these grates will draw cool air into the fireplace while pushing warm air back into your room.
  • Let light and heat from windows inside.Let the sun do some of the heating for your home! Before you go to work, open the blinds or curtains of south-facing windows, allowing the sun to warm the room while you’re gone. When you get home, don’t forget to close them to lock in that free heat. In areas where your home doesn’t get much sun, keep your curtains and blinds closed to trap in the heat. You can also strategically plant trees in your yard to help with energy costs! Deciduous trees can provide shade during the summer, but lose their leaves in the winter, allowing for more sunlight to warm your home.
  • Reverse the spin of ceiling fans. Ceiling fans can easily keep you cool, but they can also help keep you warm. If you reverse the direction to clockwise, your ceiling fans will push warm air back down (remember, warm air rises). It will also redistribute the warm air from your heating system, making sure pockets of cold air don’t settle in the corners of each room. In the summer, don’t forget to adjust the fans back to counter-clockwise. This will pull hot air up to the ceiling and help with cooling costs, too. Don’t have any fans? Check your nearest home improvement store for deals and install ceiling fans in the rooms you use most. Some improvement stores will even install ceiling fans for you!
  • Replace your HVAC filter. This tip is easy to forget, but could save your home from using unnecessary energy. Your air filter is the access point for your HVAC system’s air flow, and the place that filters your home from allergens and dirt particles. If you don’t replace your air filter, it clogs up from excess dust. This reduces airflow, or increases resistance, which puts strain on your heating and cooling system. Check your filter once a month to make sure it’s not too dirty, or subscribe to a filter delivery service for a monthly reminder.
  • Conserve heat with tin foil. Yes, you read that correctly – placing a piece of tin foil behind your radiator will help reflect heat back into your home. Don’t let that precious heat go out the window; this cheap and simple hack could also help you save on winter heating bills. Just make sure the shiny side is facing the radiator!
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5 Free and Easy Ways to Save Energy

We’ve all read numerous tips on how to save energy, from turning off the lights when you leave a room to looking for the ENERGY STAR logo when shopping for new appliances, but do they really help that much?

The answer is: Yes! There’s a reason we see similar energy-saving tips over and over again; every single step you take to save energy helps you save money and reduce your home’s impact on the environment. SaveOnEnergy.com’s list of tips explains why each of these practices is so important, along with how you can easily implement them in your daily life.

Did you know: If every American simply replaced one light bulb with a more energy-efficient variety, we would save roughly $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That’s equal to lighting up 3 million homes and keeping 800,000 cars off the road annually.

If a single light bulb switch can have such a major impact, imagine the difference you can make with these quick and free changes. Don’t forget to encourage your friends and neighbors to make these changes, too!

Here are our top 5 free and easy ways to save energy in your home:

1. Turn off the fan when you leave a room.

Why? Fans don’t cool the air – they only cool people by blowing warm, still air across their skin. The motor on the fan actually adds heat to the room – another reason to turn it off when you leave.

How: Just like turning off the lights and electronics when you leave a room, turn off the fan. It sets a good example for the younger generation that waste is never a good thing.

2. Close your drapes or drop your window shades during the day.

Why? Keeping sunlight out during the heat of the day keeps the house cooler. In the winter, doing the opposite lets the warm sunlight in.

How: Consider moving your furniture around with the seasons to take advantage of or avoid the sun. Eating breakfast near a sunny window can start your chilly winter day off right.

3. Wash your clothes in cold water.

Why? Ninety percent of the energy used to wash your clothes is for heating the water.

How: Cold water is just as effective for getting clothes clean with today’s high-efficiency washers and cold water-formulated detergents.

4. Wrap or cover foods and drinks in the refrigerator.

Why? When foods release moisture they make the compressor work harder to keep the unit cold.

How: Take a few seconds to put on some plastic wrap to trap that moisture. Better yet, put that food in a reusable container with a lid to avoid having to throw away the plastic wrap.

5. Always use the cold water faucet, unless you really want hot water.

Why? Turning on the hot water faucet (or placing the faucet lever to hot or warm) requires energy to heat the water, even if it doesn’t reach the faucet before you turn it off.

How: Use cold water, especially for cooking. Hot water from the tap absorbs more lead and other contaminants from pipes.

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5 Ways to Save Energy and Money at Your Vacation Home

Ahhh, Friday afternoon is finally here and you can’t wait to escape for the weekend to your second home. Whether you have a cottage at the lake or a cabin in the mountains, your vacation home should be a place for rest and relaxation – not a place for worry about how much energy it’s eating up and what the extra utility bills are costing you. Stop the worry with these tips on how to make your vacation home more efficient so you can return to the carefree-weekend you’re craving.

  1. Make sure your house is sealed up tight. This means making sure the roof, siding, foundation and gutters are free of holes – or even cracks, dents or nicks that could become holes – that allow air leaks or even insects and bigger critters into your house. You also need to make sure your doors and windows don’t have any cracks. Since you don’t live in this house every day, you might not notice a small problem before it turns into a big issue, so it’s important to maintain a tightly sealed home.
  2. Use a smart thermostat. These new kinds of programmable thermostats are web-enabled so you can adjust the temperature anytime, anywhere. That type of access is particularly helpful for preventing damage to a second home. For example, you may have turned off the heat in your vacation home to save money, but an approaching winter storm threatens to freeze your pipes. With a smart thermostat, you could turn on the heat with your smartphone or computer to prevent the pipes from bursting, requiring a costly repair. Smart thermostats can also help make your vacation home more comfortable. Instead of waiting for an hour or so for the house to cool off or warm up once you get there, you can simply adjust the thermostat from the road, making your entry to the vacation that much smoother.
  3. Make sure your exhaust fan is working properly. With too much moisture in a locked-up house, mold can build up quickly. Make sure your exhaust fan in the bathroom is working and be sure to use it after every shower, especially on the day you leave.
  4. Turn off your appliances and electronics when you leave. This may sound obvious, but you may not realize that many plugged-in appliances draw energy even when they are “turned off.” Electronics with a standby mode (such as a microwave or TV), power cords with a large brick in the middle of the cord (laptop adaptors) and large block plugs (phone chargers) use electricity all the time. The easiest way to turn multiple electronics and appliances off is to plug them all into power strips; then with one flick you can turn everything plugged into them off at once.
  5. Set the hot water heater to a lower temperature. Make sure the temperature on your hot water heater is no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. When you leave, you can turn the temperature even lower or set it to vacation mode if your hot water heater has one.

There’s no reason your vacation home can’t be just as energy-efficient as your daily home. Save some energy and money with these simple tips that will make your weekend.