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Task of the Month

The Task of the Month is a list of easy-to-do, low-cost strategies for making your home more efficient. Each of the tasks helps you save energy and money!

 

Task of the Month was originally created by Dr. Stephanie Kimball for

Earth Care Bloomington.

If you pledge to participate in Task of the Month for 1 year, you could save over $500 in energy costs.

 

It’s easy—get started today!

January

Lower thermostat 2°F during the day and 4°F overnight

You can save 2% on your heating bills for each 2° you turn down your thermostat for 8 hours per day. The longer your home remains at a lower temperature, the more you save and the longer your furnace will last.

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  • Often alone in a big house? You could only heat the rooms you spend time in, wear layers, drink warm beverages, move around frequently or use a blanket on your lap when sitting for long periods.

  • Over 65 or have a chronic illness? Check with your doctor about what temperature is recommended, day and night.

  • For more information, especially if you have a heat pump, electric resistance heating, steam heat, or radiant flooring, see: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats

 

Cost: $0

Estimated Savings: $30-$60/year

Difficulty: Easy

February

Install and use a programmable or WiFi/Smart thermostat

Heating and cooling account for the largest percent of energy use in the typical home. Properly using a programmable thermostat is one of the easiest ways you can save energy and money. It allows you to set your home's temperature for different times of the day, for heating and cooling, and saving energy when you are asleep or away.

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Cost: $40-$80

Estimated Savings: $60/year

Difficulty: Moderate

March

Seal large air leaks

Air leaks can be like leaving a window open all the time! Fill or cover gaps with caulk, expanding foam, or rigid insulation board. Thermal cameras can show where air is leaking in.

  • Where to look for leaks:

    • Fireplace dampers - insert an inflatable draft stopper in your fireplace

    • Door and window frames

    • Electrical and gas service entrances

    • Baseboards

    • Weather stripping around doors

    • Around wall or window air conditioners

    • Cable TV and phone lines

    • Where dryer vents pass through walls

    • Vents and fans

    • Attic hatches

    • Electrical outlets and switch plates - foam outlet and switch plate inserts and effective, inexpensive, and easy to stall

  • Need help locating problem areas? Eligible Duke Energy and SCI REMC customers can have a free Home Energy House Call for an energy efficiency expert to conduct a home walk-through and point out problem areas.

 

Cost: $15-$300

Estimated savings: $70/year

Difficulty: Moderate

April

Replace 7 incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs

Replace your old, inefficient incandescent bulbs with LEDs to save energy and money!

  • LED light bulbs last much longer (25,000+ hours) and pay for themselves within a year or two.

  • See the Duke Savings Store to purchase low-cost LEDs.

  • Duke Energy also offers free LEDs to qualifying homeowners and renters. See their webpage to learn more and order your free LED bulbs.

 

Cost: $0-$25

Estimated Savings: $40/year

Difficulty: Easy

May

Have your AC unit professionally serviced; clean refrigerator coils
  • For better efficiency, indoor air quality, and savings be sure to clean or replace dehumidifier and AC ​filters frequently this spring and summer.

  • Set your fridge to 40°F and your freezer to 0°F.

  • Ready to replace your fridge or freezer? Look for an ENERGY STAR model!

  • Want to know exactly how much energy your appliances use? The Monroe County Public Library has watt meters you can check out. Just plug in your appliances to measure how much energy is being used over time.

Cost: $60

Estimated Savings: $60/year

Difficulty: Easy

June

Wash clothes in cold water, air dry clothes

Appliances account for 13% of a typical home's energy use. Clothes dryers are 2nd only to water heaters in energy used, so washing in your clothes in cold water and hanging them to dry in the warm summer months both save you money!

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  • Dirty laundry? Presoak heavily soiled clothes in cold water or use warm water to wash and cool to rinse.

  • To save energy and still use a washing machine, only wash full loads.

  • Air dry year round! Hanging clothes indoors in the winter improves comfort since heating dries your indoor air.

Cost: $0

Estimated Savings: $90/year

Difficulty: Easy

July

Increase AC thermostat by at least 3°F

Stay cool while saving energy!​

  • On cool nights, exhaust the hot indoor air by pulling cooler air from outside across your house or out upper windows. The close the windows and curtains to hold in the cooler air.

  • Keep cool on hot days by running a ceiling dan in the room you are in (turn it off when you leave the room), drinking cool liquids, and dressing appropriately.

  • Humidity problems? Try running your AC early in the morning to reduce humidity, then turn up the thermostat and close the blinds or curtains to keep out the hot sun.

 

Cost: $0

Estimated Savings: $30/year

Difficulty: Easy

August

Cut phantom energy loads by half or more

Most electrical and electronic devices, from phone chargers to computers, draw current even when turned off. To reduce your phantom loads:

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  • Enable power management features on your computers and printers.

  • Turn your computer and monitor off completely when not in use.

  • Plug home office and entertainment system components into a power strip that easily be switched off when not in use (eliminating the need to unplug individual components).

  • Unplug cell-phone chargers, bread-, rice- and coffee- makers, dust busters and electric toothbrushes when not in use.

  • Use a surge protector.

  • Turn off lights, fans, and electronics when you expect to leave a room for more than 10 -15 minutes.

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Cost: $0 - $15

Estimated Savings: $20/year

Difficulty: Easy

September

Have your furnace professionally serviced; change filters monthly

Save on your heating bills! Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do pre-season check-ups.

  • What should good service include? See the ENERGY STAR checklist for a good maintenance check-up.

  • Want to check your relative energy use? ENERGY STAR's Home Advisor will allow you to compare your home's energy use to that of homes of a similar size and age.

  • If you have your utility bills and car mileage from the past 12 months, you can calculate your family's carbon footprint at: https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator/

  • Have electric heat? Ask about Duke Energy's low-cost HVAC Tune Ups, with incentives for improvements found by certified technicians.

 

Cost: $70

Estimated Savings: $80/year

Difficulty: Easy

October

Weatherize windows and doors

Keep out the cold!

  • Pull your blinds and/or curtains closed when away and at night.

  • If you have storm windows, make sure both sets are tightly closed and locked.

  • If you don't have storms, or still feel a draft, buy a kit with plastic sheeting.

  • Do you feel cold air around your window frames? Rope caulk is easy to install and can be removed and reinstalled later.

  • Take the dimensions and photos of your exterior doors to your local hardware store for help purchasing the correct weather stripping.

  • Remember to set your thermostat back down for the winter.

  • Draperies in a solid weave and lined in a light-colored insulating fabric can cut heat loss by 10% and reduce heat gain in the summer. See this and other suggestions for window treatment at: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/energy-efficient-window-attachments

 

Cost: Varies

Estimated Savings: $30/year

Difficulty: Moderate

November

Insulate water heater and lower water heater temperature to 120°F

Heating water can use as much energy as the rest of an average household's (non-heating/cooling) electric appliances combined.

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  • Though water heaters are already insulated, they can lose heat if located in an unheated space. If your water heater feels warm to the touch, you will save money and have more hot water by adding more insulation.

  • Water heater blanket kits are available for gas and electric water heaters, though gas are trickier to install. They can prevent up to 95% of their radiant heat loss.

  • Hardware stores also carry foam tubes for different sized hot water pipes. Insulating the pipes that take water from your faucets cost about 16¢ a foot a results in more savings.

 

Cost: $25

Estimated Savings: $25/year

Difficulty: Moderate

December

Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators

Saving water also saves electricity. It takes energy to pump water from its source to a water treatment plant, and it takes more energy to make it potable, and still more to get it to your house.

  • Using less hot water saves money on your electric or gas bills, too.

  • Showering accounts for about 17% of typical household's water use, faucets about 16%.

  • Toilets use over 25% of household water. Installing a toilet displacement device in the tank will save over a gallon per flush.

  • Duke Energy customers may qualify for free faucet aerators as part of their free Home Energy House Call.

 

Cost: $0 - $30

Estimated Savings: $20/year

Difficulty: Easy