Fall weather improves home energy, water efficiency

By Colorado Springs UtilitiesSeptember 8, 2023

Fall weather improves home energy, water efficiency
Checking furnace filters monthly, and replacing when dirty, increases heating system efficiency. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Colorado Springs Utilities) VIEW ORIGINAL

(Editor’s note: The following article was provided by Colorado Springs Utilities, Fort Carson’s utility provider.)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Taking time to improve water and energy efficiency pays off year-round, and during the fall there are opportunities to get work done in and out of the house.

Colorado Springs City Council approves rate adjustments quarterly. As a publicly-owned utility, Colorado Springs Utilities (Springs Utilities) increases or decreases in the cost of natural gas are passed directly onto customers.

But customers can help lower their utility bill by increasing home efficiency, which also helps curb rising energy demand.

Luckily, for some items with a slightly higher upfront cost, Springs Utilities offers off-post utility customers rebates. These rebates range from more efficient appliances to smart devices.

Get smart

Smart thermostat: Springs Utilities offers off-post utility customers a $50 rebate on qualifying devices. This simple upgrade can save 15 percent or more annually on heating and cooling. Control the temperature anywhere using a smartphone, create schedules or turn the temperature up or down when away. These thermostats are usually an easy install making this an affordable option to kickoff energy efficiency.

Plugs, outlets and power strips: Make “dumb” appliances smart. These smart devices allow more control over energy consumption. One of the biggest wastes of energy in homes is phantom load or vampire energy — the power electronics use in standby mode. Setting a schedule through the smart device apps can put a stake in vampire energy when you are asleep or away from home.


Climate control

Heating systems: Filters should be checked monthly and, if dirty, they should be replaced. As seasons change, it is a good reminder to swap filters. Before cold weather is here to stay, get a professional furnace tune-up. These annual appointments can catch issues early, which helps to head off costly major repairs and an inefficient system.

Sealing doors and windows. Use weather stripping and caulk to seal drafty windows and doors. These products cost around $20 and can save up to 20 percent on cooling and heating costs. There’s plenty of do-it-yourself videos online to turn a novice sealer into an expert.

Use or lose the sun: In warmer weather, open doors and windows in the morning to let in cool air. Shut windows and doors as the temps outside begin to rise, then draw window shades to cut out direct heat from the sun. In colder weather, do the opposite. Open shades or curtains to take advantage of the heat from the sun. Living a mile high has its benefits, especially the sun’s natural warmth.

Ceiling fan direction: Most fans have a switch to change the fan blade direction. This switch is important depending on the time of year. On warmer days, ceiling fans should be set to counterclockwise to push cool air down. The opposite is true for colder days, flip the switch to clockwise so warm air near the ceiling is pushed up and spread throughout the room.

Water wise

Indoors: Over half of indoor water use takes place in the bathroom. Turn off the water when brushing teeth and reduce shower times (five minutes total is optimal). For $24 or less, install a WaterSense®-certified showerhead that will save nearly 3,000 gallons of water a year without sacrificing satisfaction.

Outdoors: Follow the water-wise rules. Water customers can water landscapes up to three times a week during the summer before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. When temps start to cool in the fall, decrease watering one to two days per week. Springs Utilities also offers off-post customers rebates on smart irrigation controllers, rain sensors and sprinklers to help with efficiency.

Find more efficiency tips and rebates on Springs Utilities’ website at https://www.csu.org/Pages/Efficiency.aspx.