BUFFALO - With summer officially here, and temperatures already rising, so will home energy usage in most households throughout the region.
National Grid encourages customers to use these cool, simple summer tips to lower their energy consumption and save on bills.
Draw blinds, shades, drapes - Close window dressings to block the sunlight during the hottest part of the day, especially on south and west-facing windows.
Adjust the thermostat - Adjusting the thermostat a few degrees can lead to big savings. National Grid recommends a setting of 78 degrees or higher. Remember to keep the air flowing freely by replacing air filters.
Use programmable thermostats - Use of programmable thermostats optimizes air conditioning systems, helping to boost energy savings. National Grid offers a $25 rebate for each seven-day programmable thermostat installed with a maximum of two per household.
Change air conditioner settings and filter - The lower the temperature setting on an air conditioner, the more costly it is to operate. For example, a 75-degree setting will cost about 18 percent more than a 78 degree setting. Set the thermostat on air conditioners as high as comfort will permit. In addition, check air conditioner filters and replace or clean it if it is clogged.
Turn off ceiling fans - Ceiling fans don't actually cool the home, they only circulate air. Therefore, they are most effective when people are home to enjoy the benefits. Turn them off when not home and save energy in the process.
Manage water heaters - Decreasing the water heater temperature from 140 degrees to 120 degrees can help save up to $85 per year. A setting of 120 degrees is sufficient for most household needs. Turn it off entirely when heading out of town. There's no need to heat unused water. Plus, once turned back on, most models will reheat the water to the set temperature in about an hour.
Unplug electronics - Even though televisions and other appliances are turned off, many electronics still draw electricity. Unplug any unnecessary electronics and chargers until returning home. National Grid offers Massachusetts and Rhode Island customers an instant discount of $10 dollars toward the purchase of an advanced power strip through its online store at www.estarlights.com and at select retailers. Using an advanced power strip on entertainment systems reduces phantom energy use which can save up to $30 annually.
Use light timers, motion detectors - Many people like to leave a light on to indicate someone is home while they are away. Use a light timer instead. This also gives a more realistic impression of someone being at home. Rather than leaving a porch light on the entire time, install a motion detector to be used both when at home and away.
Check refrigerator and freezer temps - The ideal refrigerator temperature is between 37 and 40 degrees. For the freezer, the ideal reading is 5 degrees. It is also important to keep refrigerators and freezers full so they do not have to work as hard to stay cold. This can drastically lower the amount of energy they'd ordinarily need to function properly.
Consider replacing or recycling older-model working refrigerators, especially if older than 10 years - Older model refrigerators often can use more than four times the energy of newer models and cost up to $150 a year to run. Customers can recycle their old or second refrigerator through National Grid. The company will not only pick it up for free, but will also provide a rebate. It will save energy, money and help keep these appliances out of landfills.
Plant a tree - Planting a deciduous tree on the west or south side of a house can provide shade that will help keep it cool in the summer. And, when the leaves fall, it will let more light and warmth through in the colder months, helping keep the house warmer and brighter to help fight off those winter doldrums. Don't forget to plant away from power lines and call before you dig by dialing 811.
National Grid also offers many programs and incentives to help customers take control of their energy use and save on monthly bills. These include incentives for energy-efficient equipment purchases and improvements from lighting and appliances to home heating and air conditioning system upgrades. Customers also can participate in a free home energy assessment where an energy expert will visit your home to evaluate and discuss your home energy use. For more energy saving tips or to learn more about National Grid's energy efficiency programs, visit www1.nationalgridus.com/EnergyEfficiencyPrograms.