Get it done / Expert advice on saving energy
Small steps you can take to make your home more energy-efficient and save money
Photos by kc kratt
There are many small steps you can take to make your home more energy-efficient and save money. This do-it-yourself guide was made with help from the experts at Buffalo Energy, Inc., a full-service energy contractor in Elma that is partnered with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
“A lot of people don’t realize how much energy they use in their houses,” said Mike Woodward, project coordinator at Buffalo Energy.
Replace incandescent light bulbs with lower-wattage LED bulbs: “Switching your light bulbs ranks in the top five things you can do to save energy in your home,” said Ken Kazmierczak, one of the owners of Buffalo Energy, who says making the switch can save you up to fifty dollars a year on your electric bill. For those with experience, installing a light dimmer for frequently used lights also helps to control electricity output as needed.
Check the furnace filter every month: Keeping your filter clean and replacing it when necessary helps furnaces from working overtime. Your furnace needs proper airflow, so make sure nothing is up against it. Moisture, odd sounds, and smells coming from your furnace are indicators of a problem. “Have a yearly maintenance done on your furnace to make sure it’s running at its peak efficiency,” says Woodward.
Keep your fridge full: When you open your refrigerator and freezer doors, cold air drops out of them and the empty space must be recooled. The less food you have in there, the harder the appliances work to maintain the temperature. If you don’t keep a lot of food in the house, you can throw bags of ice in the freezer, or jugs of water in the fridge to take up space and keep more cold air in.
Optimize your dryer efficiency: Avoid extended dry times by keeping your lint trap clean. Check the outside dryer vent to make sure it’s not clogged with lint. Look behind your dryer and see what kind of pipe you have: if there is a lot of excess tubing, you can cut it to make it as straight as possible. “Metal hard pipes are the best,” says Russ Miner, HVAC contractor at Buffalo Energy.
Unplug small appliances when not in use: Even when switched off, appliances still use energy if they’re plugged in, known as vampire draw. You can combat this by simply unplugging appliances or using a smart power strip, which automatically turns off related devices when the “master” device is not in use.
Properly seal windows and doors: Doors and windows are weak points in the home where air can leak in. Preventing these leaks helps to cut down on your heating and cooling bills. Check your door seals and make sure they are intact. Check your window for air leaks; caulk or weather strip if necessary. “It’s inexpensive and you don’t have to be really good at caulking. Just get all the little seams on the windows and it stops the drafts,” says Woodward.
Buffalo Energy, Inc.
5763 Seneca Street
Elma, NY 14059