With the cold weather upon us, it’s a good time to think about making our homes more energy efficient. Energy efficiency improvements, many of which can be done easily and at relatively low cost, save money and energy and make our homes more comfortable. And with fuel costs running considerably higher than last year, these improvements can make a real difference.
A good first step is a home energy audit. These energy audits usually take 2-3 hours and are free to residents in the district served by utilities like NSTAR and National Grid. My family and I recently participated in an audit arranged through the Melrose Energy Commission. During the audit, an energy specialist: inspected our heating and hot water systems and made recommendations for improvements, replaced incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, examined insulation, checked our windows and doors, advised us on the feasibility of solar panels, and made many valuable suggestions for improving the energy efficiency of our home. The entire process was straight-forward, easy to arrange, and very informative.
You can also download a helpful guide from the U.S. Department of Energy with numerous money-saving tips at: www.energysavers.gov/tips. For example, the Energy Department estimates that installing a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortable could save more than $100 a year on heating and cooling bills, and that upgrading 15 of the traditional light bulbs in your home could save about $50 per year.
Other quick fixes include turning off your computers and monitors when they’re not in use, plugging electronics into power strips that can be easily turned off and on, installing weather-stripping to stop energy leaks around your front door, cleaning or replacing heating and cooling filters, and lowering the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120°F.
For low-income residents, assistance may be available for weatherizing your home, including for weather-stripping, air sealing, insulation, replacement windows, and heating system maintenance. Several organizations in our district provide these services at no cost to qualified families: Tri-City Community Action Program (Tri-CAP), Community Action Programs Inter-City (CAPIC), and the Lynn Economic Opportunity, Inc (LEO).
These organizations also offer fuel assistance if you and your family are struggling with heating bills this winter. If you need more information about fuel assistance, please contact my office at 617-722-1206. Together we can improve the energy efficiency of our homes and keep everyone warm and safe this winter.