During the winter, the drop in temperature can cause a household’s electricity use to increase as heating systems work harder to keep homes warm. And with many people spending more time at home during the pandemic, energy use may increase more sharply in comparison to previous years.
Helping our members save energy and money is always a priority for Halifax EMC, but when it’s cold outside, energy awareness and efficiency become especially important.
“We know that energy use typically goes up during the coldest and hottest months of the year,” said Brady Martin, Manager of Marketing and Economic Development for Halifax EMC, which serves approximately 10,000 members in Halifax, Warren, and parts of Nash and Martin counties. “The good news is there are simple steps our members can take to help control their energy use and associated costs, and our co-op also offers a number of tools to make it easier to monitor and manage household energy patterns.”
Some quick and easy things co-op members can do to help reduce the amount of energy they use this season include:
Embracing natural sunlight. On bright, sunny days, open your blinds and allow the natural heat from the sun’s rays to warm up your home. Be sure to close them at night and keep your windows sealed to lock cold air away.
Lowering your thermostat. Instead of maintaining higher temperatures indoors, opt for a consistent temperature – no higher than 68 degrees – to avoid overworking your heater. Extreme weather conditions cause HVAC systems to work harder, which leads to higher energy consumption and costs, so it’s more cost effective to bundle up with a blanket and cozy socks instead of turning the thermostat up.
Saving hot water. If you’ve never adjusted your water heater, it is likely set to 140 degrees. By lowering it to 120 degrees, you can benefit from reduced energy use and cost savings. Other quick changes that make a big difference are investing in a low-flow shower head to cut back on hot water use, washing clothes in cold water, and running dishwashers and laundry machines with full loads, preferably at off-peak times such as midday, late evening and overnight.
Turning off lights and devices when not in use. Make sure to turn off lights, space heaters and other appliances when you are not using them. Consider installing a power strip that allows you to easily unplug devices that constantly use energy even when turned off, such as TVs and game systems.
Making simple switches. Replace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs, and switch ceiling fans to run in a clockwise direction to help push warmer air down.
Staying on top of maintenance. Have your heating system serviced regularly to ensure optimal performance, and change air filters monthly to make sure your system is operating as efficiently as possible. These two simple tips can save you big money.
Investing in smart technology for your home. Smart devices, such as WiFi-connected thermostats and water heater controls, can help take the stress out of energy management. According to Energy.gov, you can save as much as 10 percent on heating and cooling per year by turning your thermostat back 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day in the winter and by setting it that much higher in the summer. This adjustment happens automatically with a smart device and can be programmed to occur when you’re away from home or asleep.
In addition to these tips, Halifax EMC offers tools to help members monitor and manage their energy use. Members may log into their account to view kWh usage as well as set up high energy use alerts. Consistent account monitoring allows members to adjust energy habits before they are surprised with a high electric bill the next month.
These tips and tools are part of Halifax EMC’s commitment to building a brighter future for the people and the local communities we serve. In addition to ensuring the delivery of reliable, affordable and sustainable power, this vision emphasizes the importance of innovation and ongoing community support. With a long-term goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, Halifax EMC is leveraging new and existing technologies to shape the future of the electric grid and better serve our members, both now and in the years to come.