Courtney is a junior at Fairfield University. She is currently enrolled in the Environmental Studies program with an emphasis on ecology, environmental justice, ethics, and policies as well as sustainable development. She is our newest intern at CTGS.
With these long, cold winter days, heating your home becomes a high priority. It also comes with a high economic and environmental price tag. The U.S Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling systems in the United States emit about 150 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. According to The Center for Resource Conservation, Americans use twice as much energy as necessary to heat their homes. And this heat, which escapes through cracks and leaks, costs about $450 per year.
In the United States, heating alone accounts for approximately 40% of energy bills. In Connecticut, that percentage is even higher. More than half of the average energy bill is spent on home heating. Add high gas and oil prices to that, and your wallet is a whole lot lighter.
To help the average homeowner during these chilly months, I’ve compiled a few simple, effective measures to help reduce the impact this winter. Some of them are obvious, such as unplugging unused electronics. But other less evident solutions can make a noticeable difference as well.
First, turn down your thermostat. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, for each degree you reduce by (between 60 and 70 degrees) you can save about 5% on heating costs, which translates to a potential discount of about $50 -$80, depending on the type of fuel used.
Another option, sign up to receive clean energy at CT Clean Energy Options. Producing the energy required to heat our homes contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases. Switching to clean energy will help reduce these emissions. Signing up for clean energy is an easy, affordable way to reduce your impact. An increase in clean energy sign-ups will reveal to policymakers and utility companies that the public wants to lower the emissions associated with their electricity consumption and to steer away from coal and other environmentally harmful pollutants.
Next, do a home energy audit. This is one of the easiest steps to make your home more environmentally friendly. For a limited time, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund is offering professional home energy audits for $75, to home energy audits to United Illuminating and Connecticut Light & Power customers who heat with oil, propane or kerosene. The professional will come to your home and assess your home’s energy use by performing a series of test to identify drafts and leaks as well as inefficient appliances. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, sealing leaks and cracks can save between 5%-30% of energy per year. More information on professional home energy audits is available on the U.S Department of Energy website.
Replace your old furnace or boiler with a more energy efficient model with rebates available through Connecticut's Furnace and Boiler Replacement Rebate Program. Older appliances such as furnaces or boilers require more fuel and electricity than newer, more energy efficient models. The state of Connecticut has implemented a rebate program for residents who decide to replace their old furnaces or boilers. The rebate offers up to $500 off the purchase of new natural gas, propane, or oil furnaces or boilers. Visit the website to learn more.
While a number of options exist to help green your home, the four steps listed above are inexpensive and simple ways to decrease the emissions associated with your home and to reduce your family’s environmental footprint. So try one step or all four, grab a friend and sign up for clean energy together! Greening your home can be easy and very effective.
Image courtesy of Business Week.