Avoid winter of discontent with easy energy savings
October 19, 2010 11:04:00 AM
Ryan Poe - [email protected]
As the air chills, many Golden Triangle residents are bracing for a winter of discontent with their utility bills.
But what some people don''t realize is that saving energy and money can be as simple as turning out the lights when you leave a room.
Although energy saving can be easy, Mississippi was ranked next to last in a recent energy efficiency study of states by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
The state, which ranks 31st in population, is ninth in per capita electric use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Locally, the average 4-County Electric Power Association member uses the energy of about 2.4 people annually, estimated 4-County spokesman Jon Turner.
There are many ways to save on energy costs, but one of the easiest is to understand your electric use, Turner said.
"Everyone''s situation is different," he continued. "Weather also plays a factor. Extreme heat -- like temperatures seen all summer long -- or cold means heating and cooling units run longer and use more energy."
How to save energy
Turner said homeowners should ask themselves the following questions to find ways to conserve energy:
- Do you own your own home? Renters can''t make many energy efficiency changes on their own but they can ask their landlord to do it. Homeowners find it easier to implement energy efficiency improvements and can usually qualify for programs from their local electric company as well as federal tax incentives for improvements. These tax incentives won''t be available next year, so now is the time to take advantage of them.
- How many people live in your home? The more people, the more power used-more lights are on, more hot water is used, more laundry gets done and it adds up. If someone is home all day, that can add to your bill as well.
- How old is your home? Older homes are less energy efficient. Old windows, insufficient insulation, older and inefficient appliances can all add to your energy use.
- What kind of home do you live in? Apartments tend to have lower utility bills overall while mobile homes can have much higher bills than conventional houses or apartments.
- What kind of extras do you have? Homes with swimming pools, tanning beds, well pumps or shops with welders or other heavy power using equipment can see higher bills.
- Is it plugged in? If so, then it''s using power. Phone chargers, satellite or cable boxes, video game consoles, computers, clocks, appliances all use power and all add to your bill
- What can we do? Make the simple changes first -- use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent. Seal cracks and gaps around windows and doors and in cabinets where pipes come in. Turn off lights when not in use, raise the thermostat in the summer and lower it in the winter-heating and cooling make up about 50 percent of the average power bill.