December 30, 2015

Even if you set your New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, how often do they stick? We all do it – vow to be a new person in the new year, but find that the luster has worn off by February or March. What if you set a goal that constantly rewarded you? What if your resolution made your family more comfortable, healthy and safe? Making the following three resolutions in 2016 could better your life in many ways.

Locate cost savings

Let’s face it: We all enjoy saving money. A common misconception about energy efficiency is that it is extremely costly up front. In some cases, this may be true, but some upgrades and lifestyle changes could cost you little to nothing to implement in your home. Before checking all of your light bulbs and reprogramming your thermostat, it helps to get a baseline on how much money you are spending on your utility bills. Have your costs skyrocketed this year versus last year? Have you steadily been overspending on your bills?

This could provide the incentive you need to contact a professional to come in and locate where your home is wasting energy. Is air leaking out through spaces in your insulation? Is your hot water heater old and inefficient? What is driving up the cost of your energy usage? An energy audit can help you figure out exactly where your money is going.

Use less

You can implement the following energy saving methods right on January 1st and reap their benefits right away:

  • Switch your lighting. By replacing your inefficient lightbulbs with CFL or LED bulbs, you can get the same amount of light while using less energy, and you would have to replace the bulbs less often.
  • Adjust temperatures using a programmable thermostat. Would you keep your home heated at 70°F all day if nobody were home? A programmable thermostat prevents this waste by increasing and decreasing your home’s temperature based on your family’s behavior.
  • Reduce energy for water heating. If your water heater is in an unheated space, it could be working overtime to provide your hot water. By insulating your heater and pipes, you can prevent heat loss. This small change may also allow you to turn down the water heater’s thermostat a few degrees as well (but no lower than 120°F), resulting in even more savings.

Put your family’s comfort and health first

While saving money is important, your family’s comfort and health is also of the utmost importance. If you have to bundle up in your home because it is drafty each winter or if one of your family members is constantly suffering from allergies, it might be time to address these issues in 2016.

We often assume that drafty homes are the result of old windows and doors, but it could be more about your home’s insulation and air sealing. Each home is different, so it is recommended that you get an energy audit before taking winterizing into your own hands.

You can also do small things today to better the indoor air quality in your home, creating a healthier and safer environment for your family. Because your home is buttoned up tight in the winter, pollutants and allergens can get trapped inside. By changing out filters on your heating system, you can greatly minimize contaminants in the air. High moisture levels can also lead to mold and mildew. You can avoid these issues by properly ventilating damp areas (i.e. using a shower vent) and by installing a dehumidifier to keep the humidity level in your home below 50 percent.

It is said that it takes two or three months for a new behavior to become a habit. To help you stay on track with your energy efficiency goals in 2016, set goals that are specific and measurable. For example, how would you measure your savings on gas to heat your home? Compare your monthly heating bill to last year’s and note any differences. The energy and money that you save should reward you enough to stay on track until energy efficiency becomes a habit – a comfort-creating, money-saving habit!

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