Earth Week Series – 2
By James Joerke, Associate Executive Director
With many of us spending more time at home these days, it’s the perfect time to take action to make your home more energy efficient. These simple steps will make your home more comfortable and reduce your energy bills.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Installing a programmable thermostat can help you save big money on your heating and cooling costs. Your electric utility may even offer discounted or free programmable thermostats and complimentary installation. Web-based thermostats allow you to adjust the temperature settings from your smart phone, enabling you to pre-heat or -cool your house before you get home. Check with your utility to see what incentives are available.
- Install LED bulbs. LED light bulbs use up to 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to 25 times longer. LEDs have become much more affordable in recent years, and in Missouri, Evergy has a program that provides substantially discounted LED bulbs to residential customers. Visit the Evergy website to learn more.
- Get rid of that old fridge. Many of us have a second fridge in the garage or basement. Did you know that a 1970s-era refrigerator may use five times more electricity than a modern comparably-sized Energy Star fridge? This can cost you as much as an extra $200 a year. Consider getting rid of that old fridge, and confirm with your hauler that the old refrigerant will be disposed of properly and the metal recycled. Missouri’s Green Sales Tax Holiday, which runs from April 19 – 25, waives the state sales tax on refrigerators and other appliances that meet Energy Star standards, so this is a perfect time to buy! If you don’t want to buy new, Habitat Restore sometimes has newer model refrigerators for sale at a discounted rate.
- Insulate your attic. A poorly-insulated attic can cost you hundreds of dollars annually in added heating and cooling costs. You can reduce your bills and make your home more comfortable by adding fiberglass or blown-in insulation yourself, or by hiring a contractor to do it. Households that meet income requirements may be able to receive assistance through the Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program.
- Insulate your rim joists. A lesser-known but significant source of heat loss in many homes is the rim joists. These are the joists that rest on the foundation and secure the ends of the floor joists around the perimeter of your home. The cavities where the floor joists meet the rim joists are visible in homes that have basements and typically are not insulated. These cavities can be insulated with spray foam or rigid foam board that is cut to size and secured in place with insulating spray foam (note: it is important not to use fiberglass insulation because it can trap condensation and lead to mold). This high-impact, low-cost measure can easily be done by the do-it-yourselfer. Many videos with step-by-step instructions are available online.
I hope this information inspires you to make your home more energy efficient. Bridging The Gap also works with local businesses to help them reduce their energy bills. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-945-6319.
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