Home heating costs seem to rise every year, much to the angst of everyone who has to foot this bill.
In light of the colder temperatures ahead, we pored through the series of articles on Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s website saving money on heating your house and parsed the salient points of each article for you.
Here are the steps they suggest you take to keep your electricity costs reasonable this winter.
Insulate Windows and Seal Air Leaks to Control Home Heating Costs
Proper insulation is crucial in enhancing energy efficiency, especially during cold winters. Although there are several ways to insulate your property, the Roanoke Electric Co-op guidelines recommend you start with windows.
The company urges homeowners to use heavy-duty plastic sheeting to cover drafty windows. This thin barrier helps seal off any spaces and keeps the warmer, heated air inside for longer.
Roanoke Electric Co-op also urges its member-owners to carefully inspect their homes to find and seal any other leaks. Air leaks around plumbing outlets are in particular very common. Also, remember to check for gaps around recessed lights, ceilings, chimneys, and drafty doors.
Editor’s Note: If you need help with these jobs, click here to learn how to reach out to Carolina Rebuilding Ministry.
Ensure That Your HVAC System Is Well Maintained
Well-maintained HVAC systems tend to be energy efficient. Therefore, they use less energy and cost less money. According to Roanoke Electric Co-op guidelines, start by scheduling a professional inspection of the entire HVAC system.
This process will help identify possible issues and fix them as soon as possible. As for furnaces and heat pumps, the utility company recommends filter replacements at least once every month.
If you happen to use wood and pallet burning heaters instead of electric heat, be sure that you clean the flue vent often.
Adjust the Temperature to Lower Home Heating Costs in the Winter
Adjusting temperature can also help reduce energy costs. Roanoke Electric Co-op suggests that you should set the thermostat as low as possible when you’re at home and awake, as long as it feels comfortable.
But when you step out or go to sleep, consider turning the thermostat back to between ten and fifteen degrees for at least eight hours. According to the co-op, this one behavior will save you nearly ten percent in heating and cooling costs each year.
Energy Efficient Lighting
Energy-efficient lighting solutions are not necessarily related to heating and cooling. However, the shorter daylight hours during the winter meant you might need to leave light fixtures on longer than usual. Thus, spending as little energy on them as possible is very important.
In fact, Roanoke Electric Co-op recommends changing your lighting to energy-efficient LED lights. You can also consider LED Christmas lights during the festive season to add to the energy savings. Some estimates show that LED lighting uses 75% less energy than traditional incandescent lights.
Sign up for the Upgrade to Save Program
The Upgrade to Save Program is an initiative of the Roanoke Electric Co-op designed to promote energy-efficient heating and cooling for customers. The program helps people save money and energy through comprehensive weatherization improvements on their properties. Here is how it works:
- Once you sign up, Roanoke Electric Co-op will send a specialist to conduct a comprehensive energy assessment on the property. This is done free of charge for qualifying member-owners. The certified energy assessor will help identify efficiency upgrades that will maximize energy savings in the long run.
- After the assessment is done, a weatherization crew will arrive for a second follow-up visit. The crew will install the weatherization upgrades recommended by the assessor. REC makes it clear that over 90% of projects under this program do not require upfront costs.
- With proper weatherization, property owners can now enjoy low-cost heating and cooling. Also, every customer of Roanoke Electric Co-op may apply for this program.
Marshall Cherry, the company’s former COO and current Interim CEO said this in 2019 about the Upgrade to Save Program:
Sign up for High Usage Alerts
It would be nice to see an alert if your heating and cooling costs are way too high right? Well, Roanoke Electric Co-op provides this option for member-owners, and it’s not hard to see why. It will help you manage energy expenditure better.
The utility company has also made it easier for folks to sign up for these alerts. You just need to text the word “JOIN” to 352667. After that, you will get text alerts on your energy usage regularly. You can also call the Roanoke Electric Co-op main office for this info or receive it directly via email.
Sign Up for Budget Billing to Budget for Higher Home Heating Costs
Roanoke Electric Co-op also runs a Budget Billing Program designed to give you more control over your energy bills. Heating and cooling costs can spike without notice. In turn, that can lead to suddenly higher, unplanned-for energy bills every month.
But what if there was a way to pay a fixed amount every month regardless of your energy consumption?
The budget billing program does precisely that very thing. It gives member-owners a stable payment plan to pay a fixed energy bill depending on average household or commercial energy consumption.
Join the Ecobee3 Thermostat Program
The Ecobee3 Thermostat Program is an additional energy-saving initiative designed to help customers reduce energy wastages and save money in the process. It involves the installation of the Ecobee3 Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats.
The thermostats are adjusted automatically by the Co-op to help reduce energy usage during peak hours. These adjustments are done up to 8 times a month. It’s also free to install the thermostats and you get a monthly credit to your electric bill.
Request a Free Energy Assessment
Roanoke Electric Co-op is also willing to help property owners enhance energy efficiency through free energy assessment. In essence, the assessment identifies possible energy wastages and provides recommendations on how to fix them.
If your energy bills have spiked inexplicably off late, this would be a very good initiative to take right now. However, it’s always a good idea to regularly get an energy assessment even if bills are normal as it helps keep energy wastages low. Since REC offers this service for free, it’s worth your consideration.
Heating and cooling costs, especially during peak summer and winter months, can become a substantial financial burden for any household or commercial property.
But there are ways to reduce them. The guidelines above should be perfect as a start, but you are also encouraged to explore more ways to reduce energy wastages on your own.
If you live in a part of Bertie County with a different electric provider, reach out to them. They may offer similar initiatives to help you make it through the upcoming peak cold season.