Ways to Save Energy

No matter where you live or what size your home, there are ways to reduce your energy consumption and save money on utility bills. A good place to start is OUC—The Reliable One’s Usage Dashboard available at www.ouc.com/usage. Or you can watch energy conservation videos at www.ouc.com/waystosave. 

The usage dashboard helps customers review their electricity usage patterns to conserve energy and save money. Electric usage data is available on the dashboard on a daily and even an hourly basis to pinpoint when customers are using energy the most and the least amount of power. This feature also allows OUC customers to set up email alerts to ensure they stay on top of usage spikes. Adjusting your household thermostat is the easiest and most effective way to lower your electric bill. Try keeping your air conditioner at 78 degrees or higher during summer and the set the heater to 68 degrees or lower in the winter.

Every extra degree of heating or cooling makes a big difference. A thermostat set at 76 degrees will use up to 15 percent more energy to power your air conditioner than it would at 78 degrees. Installing a programmable thermostat allows you to automatically adjust heating and cooling settings according to your schedule — home or away. Some thermostats can even be linked to a smartphone app for easy access and control.

Not all household appliances are equal when it comes to electricity usage. Since heating and cooling make up around half of a typical home’s energy consumption, this is a great place to start looking for efficiencies. Homeowners and renters can reduce their dependence on energy guzzling cooling and heating systems by opening or closing windows, using fans when people are in the room, or lowering window shades to keep the sun out. 

Water heaters can account for as much as 17 percent of your energy bill, so it’s crucial to make sure yours is working properly with no leaks. Wrap an insulation blanket around the tank and adjust the temperature to 125 degrees or lower for optimal efficiency. Also consider adding a timer to the unit and remember to set it to vacation mode if you’re leaving town. Solar water heaters use the sun’s energy to heat water for free and an integrated heat pump system can heat and cool your home and provide hot water as well.

Homeowners can also reduce energy consumption by repairing or replacing poor insulation, weather stripping and duct leaks, as well as dirty filters, evaporators and condenser coils.

It might be worthwhile to replace inefficient cooling and heating equipment. Not only are newer systems more energy efficient, there are quite a few federal, state and local rebate programs to make them more affordable. A good website to find more information about these programs is www.energystar.gov. You can also visit www.ouc.com/rebates to learn about incentives provided by OUC.

If you take the steps recommended at these websites and still don’t see a difference in your utility bill, OUC has trained energy consultants available to help answer questions. To see if you qualify for a free home energy audit, call OUC at 407-423-9018 in Orlando/Orange County or 407-957-7373 in St. Cloud/Osceola

— Joe Yogerst, Tribune Content Solutions Writer