Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Corporation, has prepared some great tips about saving money on home heating costs.
- Turn down your water heater. Most conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees or lower can reduce your water-heating costs by 6% to 10%.
- Remember that hot water uses fuel too. Take notice of how much you use while bathing and washing dishes, and make an attempt to reduce consumption.
- Consider having a solar water heating component installed. This small, easily installed system is virtually maintenance free and warms the water your family uses on a daily basis, using the free heat from the sun. And save the receipt because anything you do to be more efficient may be considered a tax write-off.
- Eliminate drafts. According to the Energy Department, drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use. Use caulk or weather stripping wherever possible and look around the house for drafts (using a candle to indicate air flow near windows and door jambs).
- Change filters or consider using a permanent filter. Disposable fiberglass filters trap 10% to 40% of debris while electrostatic filters trap around 88%, and are much better at controlling the bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen that cause illnesses, allergies and irritation.
- Buy a timer for your thermostat or “smart” thermostat ($50-$100) which can be set to change the temperature for you when you know you won’t be at home, etc.
- Buy low-flow shower heads and/or more water efficient faucets throughout your home.
- Insulate wherever possible. Under doors and over windows (affordable, disposable plastic window coverings are available at most hardware stores and once applied, are virtually invisible). This includes your pipes and water heater (insulate “jackets” for your water heater are available for $25-$75 and are especially helpful if your water heater is in a garage or unheated area).
- Use curtains wisely. During the day, leave them open to allow warm sunlight in and close them at night to insulate.
- Reverse your ceiling fans to push warm air downward.
- Maintain your furnace. Oil-fired boilers should be cleaned and tuned annually, and gas systems, every two years ($100-$125). By maintaining your heating unit, you can save between 3% and 10% on heating bills, says ACEEE.
- Research breaks. Many utilities offer discounts or rebates on energy-saving products. Call and ask. Loans are also sometimes available from the Government for major improvements that will incorporate energy-efficient products in your home. And save those receipts because again, anything you do to be more efficient may be considered a tax write-off.
- Perform a home energy audit. Your state or local government energy or weatherization office can help you identify a local company or organization that performs audits. Some utilities offer free or discounted home energy audits. Contact yours to find out if this incentive is available. The auditor will assess your home and then give you an estimate for upgrading your home for maximum energy efficiency. Again, save those receipts and write the upgrades off!
I had a chance to interview him to learn more.
1) Lowering the water heater setting is a good idea – for safety and energy reasons. How else can we reduce hot water consumption?
Buy a new energy-efficient water heater. While it may cost more initially than a standard water heater, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance. Look for the ENERGY STAR and EnergyGuide labels. Next, you should consider natural gas on-demand or tankless water heaters, which heat water directly without using a storage tank. I have found energy savings can be up to 30% compared with a standard natural gas storage tank water heater.
2) Some of the tips you suggest (caulk, permanent filters, smart thermostats, etc.) cost money initially. How long does it take for some of these investments to pay for themselves in energy-saving costs
There is a range of costs here. However, I would say normally you can pay for these items between 6-18 months from installation.
3) It can be hard to change some habits. Do you have suggestions for helping the whole family get on board?
Get the whole family involved in and excited about the idea. You are working together to develop an environmentally sustainable lifestyle and you need all hands on deck. Have fun. Use teamwork and encouragement. Post handmade signs around the house that give friendly reminders about energy-saving goals like turning out the lights. Keep a chart to document efforts. Lastly, making meaningful changes is difficult, and it takes time to be successful. Old habits die hard — but when they do, it’s cause for celebration. Take time every week or two and reflect on the ways your family is saving energy, saving the planet and saving money. Treat yourselves to a candlelit pizza party, a bike ride or a family art night. Then pick the next energy-saving actions to commit to.
Chris Faulkner is the Founder, President and CEO of Breitling Energy Companies, an independent oil and natural gas company based in Irving, Texas. With diverse and extensive experience in all aspects of the oil and gas industry in North America, Europe and the Middle East, Mr. Faulkner is an advisor to the ECF Asia Shale Committee and sits on the Board of Directors for the North Texas Commission.