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Have You Had Your Home Energy Review?

Beyond the compact fluorescent light bulbs, I am certain there are other changes we can make to conserve energy and to save money around the house.  The other evening the topic turned to comparing notes on thermostat settings and gas/electric bills with some friends.  I realized one of the things on my long "to do" list is to contact Energy Trust for a free home energy review.  Today, I went on line, filled out the form, and next thing I knew, I made an appointment for an Energy Advisor to come give energy-money-saving tips.  Just in time for Earth Day. Have you had a review?  Any tips that helped to make some noticeable differences in your energy bills?  Also, what is the best thermostat setting when the family's away for the day?


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Yes, we had this done. We were already considering replacing our 1971 clunker of a furnace with one of the high-efficiency models, and the Energy Trust woman had excellent information on all the rebates we could get by doing this (some from the state, some from the fed, some from Energy Trust).

She went over the house and showed us areas where additional insulation would help keep the heat in. We were also considering one of those tankless hot water heaters, and she was very helpful with the pros and cons of that for our particular situation.

One of the easiest things we do is to unplug any appliances as soon as we're done using them. Having things plugged into the wall actually uses energy, even if you're not using them. (I leave the fridge and the alarm clock plugged in, of course!) It definitely makes a difference in our home.

In February I started running the washer on an extra spin cycle before throwing the clothes in the dryer. I already noticed a difference in both my electric bill and the time it takes for the clothes to actually dry.

Maybe this is super-obvious to most people, but for me it was a total "aha" kind of moment. (In my defense, I do have "pregnant brain" right now.) An extra 10 minutes of spin usually saves me about 30 minutes of drying per load. And it's so easy to do.

when we moved into our 100 y.o. victorian w/12 ft ceilings a couple years ago, we realized that we would have to seriously consider these issues. although part of the renovation/move included a high efficiency furnace, water heater, and appliances ($$$ yikes!!), the most effective energy saving move actually didn't cost a penny:

victorians commonly have doors separating every room. why? because they couldn't heat it efficiently either! we now close off the majority of the house, especially hallways, bathrooms, entrances, and stairways in the winter. we heat only the bedrooms and main living space, closing off the doors leading to these rooms.

this simple "aha" moment for us has saved us about $1200/year....

now for insulation and new windows...

KMat....I'm putting your suggestion in play as soon as I get home tonight. I have a date with several piles of laundry...

Our review is scheduled for 4/21 with an Energy Trust consultant. When we moved into our 104 year old home with all original windows, we changed them all out. I still do miss the wooden windows, but I know that our new vinyl ones are so much better in keeping in the heat in the winter and keeping out the heat in the summer. I am looking forward to our review and suspect that we have major insulation issues.

I am curious about the plugged-in issue; wondering if you can help. Does that mean I should also unplug things like the toaster and unused lights?

Speaking of lights - anyone have suggestions for energy efficient track lighting or where to get them bulbs?

On a related note, Activistas is hosting an EcoParty, led by the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI). Learn how you, too, can have an EcoHome! http://www.urbanmamas.com/activistas/2008/04/northwest-earth.html

You should check out www.enviromom.com, a blog devoted to raising green kids in Portland. We talk about energy-saving ideas and everything related to green family living. We also help organize GreenGroups, which are groups of parents who meet informally to discuss green living challenges and solutions.

As always, the OEC is a great resource. They post some basic tips here (http://www.oeconline.org/climate/athome/document_view ) along with overall carbon reduction percentages. Portland General also has 16 tips for energy saving (http://www.portlandgeneral.com/home/energy_savings/ways_save/tips/default.asp ). It was interesting that they recommend turning down the thermostat to 55 degrees at night in cooler months...brrr.

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