Fall and Winter Energy Tips from Next Step Living

California is still feeling the heat of summer, but there are plenty of states that are already feeling the cool breezes of fall that will soon be followed by a frigid winter. Now is the time to start preparing for the cooler days of winter and making sure that your house is ready to keep you warm while not sending you into shock when you get your heating bill. In addition to cutting your bill, there is no better time to turn green and help the planet than right now!

The Environmental Protection Agency notes that heating accounts for 34% of all annual utility usage and is part of what makes an average home emit twice the carbon dioxide emissions as a vehicle.  Winter is the time of year when homes have their highest energy demand so there is good opportunity to make a dent in your energy bill.

Next Step Living, New England's premier provider of whole home energy solutions, works with homeowners to help cut utility costs and lower carbon emissions. Since 2008, Next Step Living has helped homeowners achieve almost $20 million in energy savings. To help you prepare for winter, Next Step Living has provided us with some great tips to assist Splash Magazines Worldwide readers in reducing their energy bill.

Next Step Living recommends these tips to be thinking about as the seasons change, and activities you can begin in fall to get ready for cooler weather ahead:

 • Schedule a home evaluation.  As part of this evaluation, the energy adviser will check the level of your home insulation.  The higher the "R-value the better your home can stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

• Along with the insulation, think about air sealing - closing up those drafty crawl spaces, dryer vents, or windows that let warm air out and lead to energy waste.

• Take another step to lower heating bills by installing a ductless mini system split which works in homes that heat with oil, propane or electric baseboard heat. This heating and cooling supplement uses wall-mounted fan units with an outdoor unit and gives you room-by-room control so you can further cut your utility bill.

• If your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system is more than 20 years old you might need a replacement.  Next Step Living recommends you make insulation and ductwork improvements, and if your bills are still too high, a new highly efficient HVAC system might be the answer

• A simple improvement is to change your air filters at a minimum, every three months.  If the filter looks dirty, change it right away, even after one month.  Dirty filters waste energy by making the system work harder

• Another efficiency fix is a programmable thermostat. While at work or traveling you can set it to use minimum energy, saving as much as $180 per year.

They've also developed this cool ebook for parents and kids, it's a user friendly "no tech" way to learn how to save energy at home and help our planet.

For more information visit the Next Step Living Energy Center.

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