Making your home energy efficient
When plummeting temperatures cause a leap in heating bills, it’s good to know there are ways you can cut energy costs without sacrificing comfort. Energy-saving tips and money-saving energy efficiency programs from Black Hills Energy are highlighted on National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, recognized annually on Jan. 10.
“Saving energy can be as simple as turning down the thermostat or insulating around doors and windows to keep drafts out and energy in,” said Alan Stoinski (stow-in-ski), manager of energy efficiency for Black Hills Energy. “We also offer energy efficiency programs with substantial rebates for installing energy-efficient heating, lighting and appliances.”
Stoinski said the company provides rebates and helps customers save energy as a value-added service. Black Hills Energy’s cost-cutting tips are listed at www.blackhillsenergy.com/saveenergy. Residential and commercial/industrial rebates vary by location and can be found, along with applications, at www.bhesavemoney.com or by calling the utility toll-free at 888-890-5554. Black Hills Energy rebates include:
• Free pickup and a $50 cash-back incentive for recycling an old inefficient electric refrigerator or freezer.
• Rebates of $50 on a new EnergyStar refrigerator
• Instant rebates on LED light bulbs at participating retailers
• Rebates from $75 to $400 on natural gas water heaters, furnaces and boilers
• Rebates are also available on insulation and windows AFTER the customer receives a free in-home energy evaluation
Energy-saving tips from Black Hills Energy include:
• Furnace: An annual furnace inspection will ensure your heating system is working efficiently and provide peace-of-mind from a safety perspective. Routine maintenance is a must. Be sure to follow manufacturer guidelines for changing furnace filters. Inspect them monthly.
• Thermostat: If health concerns aren’t a factor, set your thermostat to 68 degrees in winter. Chilly? Put on a sweater. Check the thermostat on your water heater, too. It should still be hot enough to wash dishes and take a steamy shower without having it at its highest level.
• Energy-efficient heating and appliances: Furnaces and home appliances are far more efficient than they were just a few years ago. Consider energy efficiency when replacing them to cut energy bills without sacrificing comfort and functionality.
• Insulation: You could save as much as 30 percent of your energy costs by better insulating your attic or top floor. You can save about 8 percent of your energy costs by insulating the floor over any unheated areas, such as crawl spaces, basements and garages.
• Windows and doors: Heat escapes through a single pane of glass almost 14 times faster than through a well-insulated wall. Make sure that at the least you have properly installed storm windows and doors. Double-pane windows are even more efficient and look nice, too. The initial investment is well worth the savings over time.
• Plastic and caulking: a quick, inexpensive way to decrease energy loss is to weather-strip and caulk around windows and doors. Apply plastic sheeting over windows with a kit found at any hardware store. Air trapped between the window and plastic acts as a natural insulator to help keep warm air in and cold air out.
“We also provide service and account options to help customers manage their energy bills efficiently,” Stoinski said. “You can consider those at www.blackhillsenergy.com or by calling our customer service associates at