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You can take some steps to reduce the amount of energy that you're using and lower your utility bills:
Do not resort to using a BBQ or camp stove for indoor heat. Such equipment is designed to be used only outdoors and present significant safety hazards when used in any enclosed or partially enclosed setting. Besides the obvious fire hazard, they can produce high levels of carbon monoxide (CO). Remember that you cannot smell or see CO.
If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY. DO NOT DELAY. Carbon monoxide can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. If you experience serious symptoms, get medical attention immediately.
Cutting back unnecessary energy use is an easy way to keep your hard earned money in your pocket. Here are some suggestions you can do at home, at absolutely no cost to you.
Let the sunshine in. Open drapes and let the sunshine in to heat your home for free. Don't forget to close them again at sundown to help insulate.
Rearrange your rooms. Move your furniture around so you are sitting near interior walls - exterior walls and older windows are likely to be drafty. Don't sit in the draft.
Keep it shut. Traditional fireplaces are an energy waster - it's best not to use them because they pull heated air out of the house and up the chimney. When not in use, make absolutely sure the damper is closed. Before closing the damper, make sure that you don't have any smoldering embers. If you decide not to use a fireplace, then block off the chimney with a piece of rigid insulation from the hardware store that fits snugly into the space (dampers don't shut fully without some leaking).
Eliminate wasted energy. Turn off kitchen and bath-ventilating fans after they've done their job - these fans can blow out a house-full of heated air if inadvertently left on. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning to prevent up to 8 percent of your furnace-heated air from going up the chimney.
Shorten showers. Simply reducing that lingering time by a few minutes can save hundreds of gallons of hot water per month for a family of four. Showers account for 2/3 of your water heating costs. Cutting your showers in half will reduce your water heating costs by 33 percent.
Use appliances efficiently. Do only full loads when using your dishwasher and clothes washer. Use the cold water setting on your clothes washer when you can. Using cold water reduces your washer's energy use by 75 percent. Be sure to clean your clothes dryer's lint trap after each use. Use the moisture-sensing automatic drying setting on your dryer if you have one.
Every home is different. With a quick trip to your local hardware store, you have even more choices at hand.
Plug your home's leaks. Install weather-stripping or caulk leaky doors and windows and install gaskets behind outlet covers. Savings up to 10 percent on energy costs.
Install low-flow showerheads. If you do not already have them, low-flow showerheads and faucets can drastically cut your hot water expenses. Savings of 10-16 percent of water heating costs.
Wrap the hot water tank with jacket insulation. This is especially valuable for older water heaters with little internal insulation. Be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered when insulating a gas water heater. Savings up to 10 percent on water heating costs.
Do you need any new appliances, or are you planning to do some remodeling? Consider these energy efficiency suggestions before you purchase.
Choose ENERGY STAR appliances. When buying new appliances, choose ENERGY STAR-certified models.
Install a programmable thermostat. When used properly, programmable thermostats can reduce energy costs by 10-15 percent.
Increase ceiling insulation. If your ceiling is uninsulated or scantily insulated, consider increasing your insulation to up to R-38 to reduce heating costs by 5-25 percent.
Seal ducts. Leaking ductwork accounts for more than 25 to 30 percent of heating costs in an average California home. Consider hiring a contractor to test the tightness of your ducts and repair leaks and restrictions in your ducts. Check out the Flex Your Power Web site for rebate and consumer programs.
High-efficiency windows. If you are planning to replace your windows, choosing ENERGY STAR windows can reduce your heating costs by up to 15 percent.
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