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Eight Energy-Saving Ideas to Cut Crofton Heating Costs

Crofton Residents Brace for High BGE Bills This Winter

Crofton Dad and Kids Snuggle by the FireplaceAs you may have already noticed, the BGE rate debacle in Maryland has proven to be very costly for consumers statewide since the latest hike went into effect a few months ago.  Larry and I saw our summer bills double from last year, so we’re already preparing to minimize our winter heating costs.  It is little consolation that higher rates are being experienced elsewhere around the country, as well.

Here are some of the ideas we have gathered from a variety of online resources, including the Department of Energy, the Comfort Institute, and some HVAC manufacturers: 

1.  Annual maintenance check-up.  Now, before local HVAC contractors get busy, make an appointment for a check-up of your heating system and thermostats to be sure they are performing efficiently and safely.  If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, consider installing one.  And finally, while this may be beyond the scope of your contractor’s standard check-up, ask them to diagnose and pinpoint duct leak locations and check the static pressure in your ducts and ventilation system.  (The Department of Energy says that 25–40% of the energy put out by your system could be lost from such leaks.)

2. Use a humidifier. The additional moisture will increase the heat index inside your home making 68 degrees Fahrenheit feel like 76 degrees.  You can use a portable unit in rooms that you frequent, such as the bedroom or living room. Experts suggest that the humidity in your home should be between 20 to 40 percent.

3. Clean or replace the air filter regularly.  This is an easy do-it-yourself task that will help assure maximum operating efficiency for your heating system, if done monthly. If in doubt about how to do it, ask the HVAC contractor to show you, when he is there for your annual HVAC check-up. 

4. Install more insulation.   Missing insulation can cause discomforting cold spots in your home by letting your expensive heat escape. You may need more insulation in attics, rooms adjacent to attics, the ceiling of unfinished basement areas, and next to or over garages. Your contractor can perform an infra-red camera scan to find cold spots and inspect insulation levels. Hollow wall cavities behind sheet rock also may need attention. 

5. Close doors and heating vents of closets, unused rooms, bathrooms and any unused spaces in your home, so you’re only paying to heat rooms that are in use. 

6. Don’t let heat escape!  Replace worn weather-stripping and caulk or seal around doors and windows.  And make sure the damper is closed on your fireplace, when it is not in use, to prevent that expensive heat from escaping up your chimney.  (On a side note, you may wish to consider using a pellet stove or other energy-saving alternative to a traditional fireplace.)

7. Turn down the thermostat. You will be surprised at how quickly your body will adjust to a lower temperature, and the cost savings will reward you.  Put on a sweatshirt, wear warm socks, and snuggle up under a blanket to watch TV at night– you’ll be rewarded with lower energy bills.   

8.  Let the sun shine in!  Just open your blinds, shutters and shades on the sunny side of your house, and let the sun warm your home during the day, and close all your window coverings when the sun goes down, to help keep heat inside.  

Let the sun shine inEven if you do everything on this list, your energy costs will not be minimized to the max without replacing your current HVAC system with a new more efficient system.  New equipment, along with sealed ducts, better home insulation, weatherized windows and doors, programmable thermostats and other steps to tighten your home, can remove uneven heating and cooling patterns and cost less to operate in the long run. (And, by the way, a new HVAC system will increase your home’s salability and property value, when you sell your home.)

While many people are in a position to juggle their budgets to accommodate the rate change, others are not.  If you have a relative who is elderly on a fixed income, or a young adult just starting out, you might want to check with them this winter to find out if they need help with their winter energy bills.

Crofton is known for being an activist community, so I have no doubt that many of you are participating in the dialogue about state-level political decisions leading to the BGE rate situation.  If you’re not currently engaged, now would be a good time to contact Governor O’Malley’s office to register your dissatisfaction and request action:

Address:  100 State Circle, Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1925
Phone: (410)974.3901 1.800.811.8336
E-Mail the Governor

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