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Efficiency Upgrades That Make Sense

by Brian Sloboda

Brian Sloboda is a program manager for the Cooperative Research Network, a service of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.


Surveys show that only about 15 percent of folks actually take steps to enhance the energy efficiency of their home. In most cases, people think energy-efficiency improvements are too complicated or expensive to tackle. However, there are several simple upgrades you can consider that won't break your household budget.


Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) may look odd, but one CFL uses about 75 percent less energy than a traditional incandescent lightbulb. That can save more than $40 over its lifetime, according to estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program. Early CFLs had some issues with color or quality of the light, but with today's versions, you probably won't notice a difference using a CFL.

Heating And Air Conditioning

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that heating and air conditioning account for 39 percent of a typical home's annual electric bill. While an air-source heat pump or a geothermal heat pump can be 20 to 45 percent more efficient than an existing central heating and cooling system, up-front installation costs are often a barrier. Simple solutions such as changing air filters at least every month will increase airflow to rooms, increase the lifespan of your central-heating and cooling unit and improve air quality. Sealing and insulating ductwork can be done in a weekend and result in energy savings of up to 20 percent. To lessen the amount of work that heating and cooling systems need to do, it's important to find and fix air leaks. Walk around your house on a windy day and feel for drafts around exterior doors and windows, electric outlets and entrance points for TV and telephone cables. Fix leaks with caulk, spray foam or weatherstripping. Simple acts such as cooking outdoors on a hot summer day and closing curtains to block the summer sun will keep the interior of your home cooler.

Appliances And Electronics

Gadgets and equipment that make life easier are also some of the largest electric users in our homes. When buying a new appliance, look for the Energy Star label. To keep appliances running more efficiently, try these tips:
* Replace worn refrigerator door gaskets to stop cool air from seeping out.
* Clean lint traps on dryers and don't overdry clothes.
* Clean refrigerator coils and keep refrigerators away from heat-generating appliances such as an oven.
Many home electronics, like computers, the DOE reports a full 75 percent of the power used to run home electronics is consumed when they're turned off. Plugging these items into a power or smart strip and turning off the strip TVs and DVD players, consume power even when turned off. Called 'vampire' or 'phantom' load, the average home loses 5 to 15 percent of its monthly energy consumption to these devices, according to the U.S.Department of Energy (DOE). In fact, the DOE reports a full 75 percent of the power used to run home electronics is consumed when they're turned off. Plugging these items into a power or smart strip and turning off the strip when not in use is a simple way to stop this loss of energy.

Other Ideas

The best energy-efficiency improvements are often the easiest, such as turning lights off when leaving a room, sealing windows and doors, and cleaning refrigerator coils. To measure the success of any energy-efficiency upgrades, big or small, first look at the payback period, the amount of time it takes for the improvement to pay for itself. Then consider your home's comfort level. Check whether fixes you've made keep room temperatures level and whether you find fewer drafts around doors, windows and other openings like vents or outlets. For more information, contact the energy experts at Farmers Electric Cooperative.


Are your dollars going up the chimney?

An open masonry fireplace can result in higher overall heating costs because it can actually cool the air in your house. What should you look for in an efficient wood-burning fireplace? The fireplace opening attracts heated indoor air, then releases the warm air through the chimney. The resulting vacuum draws cold outdoor air into your house through windows, doors and gaps. You may feel comfortable in front of the fireplace, but your heat pump or furnace runs like crazy trying to keep the rest of the house warm.

Beautiful basement with a lot of windows








Professional Carpet Cleaning For Colorado Springs



We are a family owned business that is currently licensed and insured in the state of CO. Since 1980 MGS Renovations has been providing quality remodeling services to customers in Southern Colorado. We offer clean, quick and reliable service as well as true attention to detail. We also do insurance claims - siding, roofing, windows, doors, water restoration, custom framing, bathroom remodeling, kitchen remodeling, decks, sheetrock, basement finishing, painting, gutters, wood flooring, tile, or anything else you can think of. We are certified installers of Vinyl, James Hardie Siding, Pella Windows, and Trex decking, but we have experience doing many other things. We work with you, the customer, to make every step of the process smooth and enjoyable.

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