CLEVELAND — Simple conservation measures, such as setting thermostats at an economical, yet comfortable temperature, can help Dominion East Ohio’s customers save energy and money during this winter heating season.
Conservation efforts by Dominion East Ohio and its customers, along with increasingly efficient natural gas appliances and improved home weatherization, have helped reduce average annual residential natural gas consumption to 96.9 thousand cubic feet (Mcf), a 33-percent decrease from 1973.
To help customers maximize home energy efficiency, Dominion East Ohio is offering a discounted, $25 energy assessment (half the regular $50 price) through its Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program. The assessments, administered by CLEAResult, identify high utility usage and home comfort issues, and result in recommendations for energy-efficiency improvements, which, if made, can provide customers rebates up to $1,250. Dominion East Ohio customers can call 877-287-3416 to schedule an assessment, or they can visit deohpwes.com for program details and eligibility.
The following tips also can help customers begin saving energy and money today:
Heating: Furnaces and boilers account for 65 percent of home natural gas use. These simple tips can help customers maximize comfort and minimize heating bills:
• Save Money by Degrees: Customers can save from 10 to 15 percent on annual heating costs by setting the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and down to 58 degrees at night, or when the resident is at work or away for an extended period. A programmable thermostat will automatically raise and lower the settings to a preset schedule and eliminate operating the heating system manually. It’s not recommended to turn the system off, especially on very cold days, because the recovery time may negate any savings realized by the setback. A common misconception is that the furnace works harder than normal to warm the space back to a comfortable level. Studies have shown that, to reheat a building, it takes about the same amount of fuel that is saved dropping to the lower temperature. The savings comes from the system stabilizing at the lower temperature. The longer the house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy is saved.
• Clean or Replace Furnace Filters: Check furnace air filters once a month during the heating season. If they become clogged, clean or replace with new filters.
• Annual Inspection: Dominion East Ohio reminds customers that an annual furnace inspection by a qualified, reputable heating contractor can ensure that they receive maximum winter heating safety, comfort and efficiency. Besides helping customers receive maximum value for their heating dollars, an annual appliance inspection can prevent any potential carbon monoxide problems. Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors provide a second line of defense, but they should not be used as a substitute for an annual appliance inspection. Combined with an annual inspection, however, a single CO detector, placed in the sleeping area of a home offers additional peace of mind.
• Caulk Around: Use inexpensive caulking around the fireplace mantle, inside windows and storm windows, electrical receptacle boxes, exhaust fan openings, pipes leading to bathroom fixtures, mortar cracks in chimneys or cracks in basement walls. Be sure to caulk around areas where the foundation meets the first floor plate and basement windows. Seal off drafts and reduce heat loss around windows.
• Fasten thin sheets of plastic to inside window frames with masking tape.
• Draft Stoppers: Block off drafts at the bottom of doors with a rolled up rug or bath towel. You also can make a long, narrow beanbag to fit against the bottom of the door.
• Switch Off Drafts: To seal off drafts, apply self-adhesive foam strips to the back of wall plates for electrical outlets and switches.
• Here’s a Card Trick: If a playing card fits in the crevice of an outside door, you need more weather stripping.
• Clean Radiators, Ductwork and Vents: Dirt and dust can make your heating and cooling system less efficient.
• Don’t Block Radiators and Vents: Move furniture and drapes away from vents, so heated air can do its job more efficiently.
• Install Roll-Out Attic Insulation: Inexpensive, do it yourself rolls of insulation, available at home improvement stores, can be rolled-out easily in an attic, the area of the largest heat loss in a home.
• You Need More Than Hot Air: Use a vaporizer to humidify bedrooms. You’d be surprised how much warmer a lower temperature setting can seem with a little moisture in the air.
• Don’t Open and Close Outside Doors Needlessly: Limit traffic into and out of your home to keep it warmer and draft-free.
• Close Off Unused Space: It makes no sense spending energy dollars to heat or cool these areas.
• Use Nature’s Energy: In cold weather, open shades facing the sun to let in nature’s warming power, and then close shades after sundown. In warm weather, leave shades down when the sun is strongest; open windows on cooler days and nights.
• Don’t Build a Fire When the Furnace is On: A roaring blaze actually can waste energy by drawing already heated air up the chimney. If you do use the fireplace, turn down the thermostat. Close the chimney damper after the ashes are cold. Always remember to open the damper before lighting a fire.
• Water Heating: Water heating accounts for 25 percent of every natural gas dollar spent. Customers can use these common-sense tips to maximize the value of their natural gas water heater:
• Lower the Thermostat: Set your water heater to “warm,” or 120 degrees F, which is high enough for normal household needs. The 120 degree F setting saves energy, slows lime buildup and reduces the risk of hot tap water burns.
• Use Less Hot Water: Take shorter showers (three minutes) instead of baths. Switch to lower wash water temperatures for all your laundry and rinse in cold water. When washing dishes, fill a basin with rinse water instead of letting the water run.
• Use “Vacation” Setting When Away from Home for Extended Periods: Water heaters have a Vacation setting to reduce natural gas use when customers leave home for extended periods, summer or winter. It reduces the water temperature to about 95 degrees F. Using this setting also means a shorter recovery time to bring the water back to normal temperature upon customers’ homecoming.
• Cooking: Ranges, ovens, grills and other cooking appliances, account for about 6 percent of natural gas use in customers’ homes. These tips will help to prepare tasty meals with delicious energy savings:
• Preheat the Oven Only When Necessary: Preheat the oven at the temperature you intend to use for only 10 minutes. A higher setting only wastes natural gas and will not preheat any faster.
• Don’t Peek: Every time you open the oven door, you pay a penalty of 25 degrees. You end up having to use more gas to replace that lost heat.
• Keep it Under Cover: Reduce cooking time and energy use by covering pots, pans and casserole dishes.
• Cook It All Together: Try cooking an entire meal in the oven. Bake pasta, rice or frozen vegetables with water in a covered casserole.
• Half Time: Cutting a roast or ham in half can cut cooking time in half.
• Clothes Drying: Gas dryers account for 4 percent of total household natural gas use. The following tips can help customers enjoy maximum energy value from their gas dryers:
• Dry Full Loads: Save gas and money by combining your loads. Always wash and dry a full load of clothes to make the best use of your appliances and energy dollars.
• Keep the Lint Screen Clean: Clean the lint filter after every load. Unless the lint screen is cleaned, the dryer will not operate at top efficiency.
Dominion is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 26,000 megawatts of generation, 14,400 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline, and 6,500 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion operates one of the nation’s largest natural gas storage systems with 1 trillion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves more than 6 million utility and retail energy customers. For more information about Dominion, visit the company’s website at www.dom.com.