Smart Energy Tips

You can save energy.

What are those 7 things that a customer can do to save energy?

 

  1. Tune-up and programmable thermostat. Each of these can save up to 5% with a small investment
     
  2. Space heating solutions: If a customer is looking to space heat and reduce the use of their central system - we have the answers - either propane, oil and kerosene. Affordable, inexpensive, automatic and virtually maintenance free. (no weekly ash shoveling, loading and storing)
     
  3. Domestic hot water efficiencies - get rid of the coil! Indirects and instant on hot water systems can save bundles of money and provide endless hot water for greater comfort
     
  4. Outdoor reset controls; Why have your boiler always run as if it were 20 below outside? When recognized by automatic controls and sensors, higher outdoor temperatures means your boiler can run more efficiently and use less fuel
     
  5. Replace: If you have an old burner replace it with a retention head burner. If an old system, replace the whole system! Save up to 50% or more with a modern upgrade and enjoy greater comfort while reducing your carbon footprint.
     
  6. Weatherize. We've heard it before but if you have not done it already, insulate, caulk, replace old windows and insulate some more.
     
  7. Make sure you use a trusted contractor. Propane, oil and solid fuels are regulated and require the installer to have a license. Wood and pellet stoves do not require a license. Central heat wood and pellet stoves do. Do your research, compare aggressively, talk with your energy dealer about what they recommend for your house.
     
  8. Did we say 7? - Also ask your energy dealer if they have any financing incentives that can assist you with upgrading to new equipment.

    No one knows what the price of any energy fuels will be in the future. For the last 50 years, 70% of Mainers used oil as their primary heat source. They use it not because they are forced to, but because they are frugal and recognized the product with the best value. For 28 of the last 35 years, heating oil has been less expenseive than natural gas. (Source -EIA)  Today, heating oil is unfortunately expensive, Tomorrow, hard to predict. Your heating fuels dealer can help with solutions including; space heating, propane, pellets, equipment effciency upgrades, insulation, heat pumps. We now offer all solutions. For decades, the 12,000 Maine citizens employed in the energy marketing business have been proud to serve the people of Maine. We will continue to be proud and serve while recognizing the stress that customers are under and we will do everything we can to keep a customer and keep them happy.
     

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Is money leaking out of your windows?

 

It's easy to tell which windows are the troublemakers. And leaky windows can slowly rob you of hundreds of dollars worth of heat over the course of a few heating seasons. To test which windows need help, simply cut a narrow strip of very light plastic about a quarter inch wide and 15 inches long (plastic dry cleaning bag material works very well). Tape the strip to the top of a pencil and hold it a few inches away from the window on a windy day. Be sure that your window is closed and locked. If outside air is blowing into the house, you'll see the strip moving.

Maintain: You can improve the integrity of your windows with some simple maintenance. Caulk around loose panes. Add weather stripping between sashes and sills.

Enclose: You can reduce leaks and improve a window's insulation effect by stapling or tacking a tight layer of polyurethane plastic sheeting on the outside. For extremely troublesome windows, you can apply plastic sheeting to the inside as well.

Replace: If there is still a lot of leakage, window replacement might be the only permanent solution. Ask your local lumberyard or building supply dealer for information on replacement windows. Keep in mind that replacing windows is easier in the summer, and typically less expensive to install, than it is in the winter.
 

 

Don't forget to check your basement windows, too.

 

 

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Shut the door good and hard.

 

To hold heat indoors and keep the cold outdoors, all four sides of the door need to be weather tight - a tricky balance because the door will stick if it's too tight. Rubberized weather stripping around the edges of the door that compresses slightly when the door is closed makes a tight seal to keep out the cold winter wind. Your local hardware store is a great source for all kinds of weather stripping products.

 

Of course, a weather tight storm door and a weatherized solid door make a great combination. The storm door forms a first defense against wind, and the trapped air between the doors makes a very effective "dead air" insulation barrier, too.

 

Here are a couple more things to keep in mind. If you have an eighth of an inch gap at the bottom of an average 36 inch wide door, that's the same as having a hole in the wall about the size of half dollar coin. Think of all the cold air that can blow through a hole that size non-stop, 24/7, all winter long.

 

Now keep in mind that the average open door makes a 21 square-foot hole in the wall that lets cold air come rushing into your nice warm house. So whether you're entering or exiting, you'll save on your heating bill if you're quick about it. Don't linger in the doorway, and make sure you have your car keys so you don't have to come and go twice.

 

 

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Let the sun shine in.

 

In Maine, the sun rises and sets slightly south of a true east to west line. That's why "southern exposure" is very desirable. It's very basic passive solar. Even in the old days, builders would try to situate a new home so that the south side windows let the sun shine in and the north side of the house had fewer and smaller windows - sometimes no windows. Another old-timers' trick was to plant deciduous trees close to the south side of the house. That way, the leaves on the trees would block the sunlight in the summer, keeping the house cool. Then, when the leaves dropped in the fall, the sunlight would shine through and warm the home in the winter.

 

Where's the south side of your home? If you have deciduous trees, you're in great shape. But if your south side has lots of sun-blocking evergreens you might consider thinning or removing them to take advantage of free solar energy. A word of caution though: Depending on how large your windows are you might consider gradually thinning a group of evergreens to find the right balance between not enough and too much sun. You don't want to discover that your home becomes an oven in the summer because you took out too many trees.

 

 

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Insulate. Insulate. Insulate.



 

Today's homes are much better insulated than homes built 30 or even 15 years ago. Many classic older homes have been upgraded with new, more effective insulation. Still, it's well worth taking an insulation inventory. Do you know the thickness and the quality of the insulation in your exterior walls, crawl spaces, and ceilings? Do you know their "R-Factor"?

 

Scientists use the R-factor to describe the differences in insulation effectiveness. The R stands for resistance to the flow of heat through the air (convection) or through solids (conduction). The higher the R factor, the slower heat travels through it.

 

If you have doubts about your insulation consult a local builder or insulation specialist for an expert opinion. You'll find lots of do-it-yourself books and instructions on insulation at your local hardware store, too.

 

A quick insulation tip: Outlets, switches, and junction boxes on outside facing walls can be weak spots in your overall insulation system. Most hardware stores carry spray cans of foam insulation with easy instructions on how to seal off those cold spots.

 

Another quick insulation tip: Consider thermal window quilts. These thick, quilted fabric shades can help keep your home warmer by adding another layer of "dead air" in your window casing which helps prevent cold from leaking in.

 

Yet another quick insulation tip: Use foam rubber pipe insulation to insulate any piping that is near the outside walls of the house.

 

 

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Five little ways to save on heating costs.

 

Not everything you can do to reduce your energy usage is as dramatic as system upgrades and replacement windows. Here are five very simple but effective ways to reduce the cost of heating your home.

 

  1. Vacuum your baseboard units: if you have baseboard heat, remove the baseboard covers to expose the heating pipes and their heat dispersing vanes. Use a kitchen broom to sweep as much dust and lint as you can and then vacuum it off. Believe it or not, this will help your baseboards transfer heat to the room more efficiently.
     
  2. Remove obstructions: Anything that stands between your baseboards, radiators, or floor vents makes it harder for warmth to get to the rest of the room. Make sure that armchairs, couches, drapes, bookshelves, etc. are not blocking your heat sources. Be sure to keep rugs slightly away from baseboards, too, because air needs to be able to pass through the bottom of the baseboard in order to force warm air out of the top.
     
  3. Keep your closet doors closed. You don't need to keep your clothes at room temperature so why pay for the extra fuel.
     
  4. Close your curtains and shades at night to trap heat inside; open them during the day to let heat from the sun in. And be sure to keep windows on the south side of your house clean to maximize solar gain.
     
  5. If you have a waterbed, be neat and make your bed every day. The sheets, blankets, and bed spread will help insulate the water so you won't have to pay quite so much to heat it.
     

 

 

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Invest in a high-efficiency oil-fired water heater.

 

Ask your oil dealer about an indirect water heater system. With these modern water heaters, you can enjoy a practically endless stream of hot water. During the heating season, this hot water is basically free; a byproduct of your home heating use. In the summer time, Oilheat is one of the most cost-efficient methods for making hot water.

 

 

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Bundle up. Go outside. Enjoy the winter.

 

You can set your thermostat down five degrees, grab your hat and your mittens and go outside for a good invigorating walk around your block. Or strap on a pair of snowshoes and trudge off through the woods. You can skate, make a snowman, go bird watching, have a snowball fight, cross-country or downhill ski - there are lots of things to do outside in the winter. Actually, a little strenuous activity will warm you up while you're saving money on that lowered thermostat. Exercise will help you stay in shape, and the better shape you're in, the more efficiently your body can create its own warmth.

 

 

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Every friend is worth 500 Btu's per hour.

 

Invite a bunch of friends over for a pot luck dinner. At 98.6° of body temperature, humans give off approximately 500 Btu's every hour. Put enough people in the room, and you can heat it with human power. Not to mention the warmth of having your friends and family getting together.

 

 

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