Energy Diet: Are you losing yet?

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The Northwest Colorado Energy Diet Challenge checklist has three sections of action items you can implement in your home to save on energy usage and on energy costs. We’ve previously discussed some “Nice and Easy” actions to accomplish. Now we turn our focus to actions that are a bit more complex but will make significant savings in your energy usage.

The checklist’s intermediate section has nine actions, seven of which are self-explanatory. Let’s talk about those other two actions.

1) Install and activate a programmable thermostat

The primary function of programmable thermostats is to lower the house temperature when you don’t need it. Nighttime and when you are away from the house are two times when a programmable thermostat is best used. When you effectively control home temperatures, the estimated cost savings is approximately $180 per year. This cost is recovered after the first year of using a programmable thermostat, a payback that is indeed attractive.

Any quick Web search for programmable thermostats will result in so much detail (upward of 30 brands) that you quickly could become confused and frustrated. We recommend three considerations before you select the right thermostat for your home. First, select a brand and control capabilities for the function required. Second, consider the thermostat location for best temperature control. Third, be sure to have a qualified person install the thermostat.

To help you in this decision, we recommend perusing these two web URLs before you buy a new thermostat:

www.amazon.com/gp/top-rated/hi/2054378011: Good and concise overview of many thermostats as assessed by the user owners. The author does not comment on the ratings or the savings; take the data as direction for selection only.

■ www.consumerreports.org/cro/thermostats.htm: 30 thermostats are reviewed in the basic Consumers Report format.

2) Schedule a low-cost home energy audit

A professional audit of your home energy efficiency is suggested for those homeowners serious about achieving the optimal energy savings and home comfort. Even though you can assume where your home is wasting heating and cooling, an energy audit will define the largest energy waste areas. And the audit will help you prioritize.

Why waste time on window sealing when the leaks at your fireplace chimney and/or entry doors could exceed all the leaks in the windows combined? Find out where your problems are, act on the leaks and thermal losses and then realize savings. You can find businesses that perform home energy audits by asking heating and cooling companies in your community, looking through advertisements in the Steamboat Today or conducting a specific Web search for your local area. Also, check out these websites:

http://energy.gov/home-energy-audits: Federal government website providing a place to start and links to other resources.

www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_improvement.hm_improvement_audits: A second federal government website that is based on the Energy Star program and provides a link to finding an Energy Star Home Energy Rater so the homeowner can trust the rating.

The Northwest Colorado Energy Diet Challenge Checklist can be found in your local library, city hall, courthouse or chamber or at www.yampavalleydatapartners.com.

Rich Beason is a member of the Northwest Colorado Energy Plan steering committee.

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