Jennifer Aldredge conceded that an 85-degree October day didn’t provide much incentive to get to work on weatherization, but there are a lot of old houses in Oakwood Lincoln Park and she was at this week’s neighborhood association meeting to talk about ways to stay warm without breaking the bank.
She presented numbers: heating and cooling accounts for 44 percent of utility bills, so updating systems and checking insulation is a good investment. Set winter thermostats at 68 (78 in the summer) because lowering/raising thermostats by one degree can yield a two percent utility bill saving. Use ceiling fans – clockwise for summer, counterclockwise in winter. Cover electrical outlets on exterior walls.
Don’t worry about refrigerators – they are incredibly energy efficient nowadays; do worry about light bulbs. Replace incandescent bulbs – which can heat up to 350 degrees F – and replace them with CFL, or even better, with LED bulbs. Be mindful of game consoles – PlayStation and Wii gobble lots of power.
Keep an eye on water. Set temperatures at 120 degrees F – the recommended temperature for peak energy efficiency for water heaters – and make sure to wrap the pipes. Monitor toilets (putting a dash of food coloring in the tank is an easy way to track leaky commodes).
At the end of the talk, Alldredge handed out gaskets and LED bulbs to an appreciative audience.