Conserve Energy and Save Big with these Home Maintenance Tips

The winter heating season is pounding on the door, and Black Hills Energy has quick, inexpensive fixes – many less than $20 – to fix five common sources of home energy loss.
“We’re no strangers to freezing temperatures in Iowa, and nearly half the energy you use each winter goes to heating,” said Tracy Peterson, Operating Vice President for Iowa Gas. “We help customers by offering a free in-home energy evaluation, rebates for insulation and new, high-efficiency appliances and more.”
Air leaks: Warm indoor air escapes and cold air sneaks in through cracks around doors, windows and entry points for natural gas, cable and telephone lines. Carefully seal around those areas with an inexpensive caulking gun and a $3 tube of caulk. Add weather stripping around doors and windows for another low-cost way to improve indoor comfort and cut heating bills.
Dirty air filters: A dirty air filter increases the resistance to air flow. Your furnace has to work harder and consumes a lot more energy. It can even cause indoor temperatures to plummet, leading to an unnecessary service call. Clean your air filters per the manufacturer’s instructions – usually monthly – and replace them as directed to keep warm, clean air flowing throughout your home.
Kitchen culprits: It’s hard to resist opening the oven door to check on baking cookies or a Thanksgiving turkey, but the temperature inside your oven drops 25 degrees every time you open the door. Doing so increases cook time and wastes energy. Instead, turn on the oven light and take a peek. On the stovetop, use the right-sized pot or pan for each burner. For example, a six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner wastes 40 percent of the burner’s energy!
Leaky air ducts: When conditioned air escapes from your heating and cooling ducts, it can add hundreds of dollars a year to your energy bills. Seal seams with duct mastic or foiled duct tape so your furnace doesn’t have to work overtime to keep your family cozy. Duct mastic is usually less than $15 a gallon and can be applied with a cheap paint brush.
Programmable thermostats: Where health concerns aren’t an issue, a good winter rule of thumb is to keep the thermostat at 68 degrees and to lower it 5 to 8 degrees while you’re asleep or away from home. The energy savings really add up. A programmable thermostat is a great set-it-and-forget-it assistant and well worth the investment.
“Taking proactive steps to improve your home’s energy efficiency is a quick, inexpensive ways to conserve energy and reduce heating costs,” Peterson said “Our residential energy efficiency programs are another great opportunity.”
Online Energy Evaluation: Answer a few short questions at www.bheSaveMoney.com to receive an energy efficiency ranking for your home, improvement suggestions and a three-year savings estimate.
FREE In-Home Energy Evaluation: A professional evaluator visits your home and measures insulation levels, air infiltration levels, equipment and operating conditions and home habits that influence energy usage. If you follow a recommendation to add insulation, our rebates cover 70 percent of the cost, up to $750.
Rebates: Black Hills Energy customers who buy a high-efficiency appliance, natural gas furnace or water heater with the ENERGY STAR rating and can apply for rebates. You’ll find a list of qualifying appliances, additional energy efficiency programs and energy-saving tips at www.bheSaveMoney.com