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A few household tweaks could help people trim electric bills, energy auditor says

By: - February 22, 2023 3:43 pm

There are several small steps people can take to cut back on the biggest energy costs. (Source: NHSaves and the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative)

Ted Stiles asks people a trick question: “What is the greenest energy?”

Wind or solar power, people enthusiastically proclaim. Maybe someone throws out hydropower. But the true answer, Stiles contends, is “the energy you’re not using at all.” 

An energy auditor and program manager at Yankee Thermal Imaging who works with the NHSaves program, Stiles likes to spread the word about energy efficiency: both the little and big things people can do to cut down on utility costs and make their own personal dent in climate change-induced global warming.

Giving his “Button Up New Hampshire” talk this week, a home energy savings workshop coordinated statewide by the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative, to a virtual audience fielded by the NH Healthcare Workers for Climate Action group, Stiles addressed the current high costs of energy in the state while simultaneously empowering residents to shave dollars and cents off their bills by making incremental changes. 

Here are some of Stiles’ leading tips:

  • Lighting, water heaters, and refrigerators have the most potential for saving energy. Focus on those first. 
  • Many local libraries offer “kill a watt” meters for people to check-out, a device that can determine how much each appliance is costing you per year. Want to go bigger? You can purchase a whole house electricity monitor. Stiles recommended brands like Sense and Smappee.
  • Be aware of “phantom loads” or “vampire” devices that use power even when they’re turned off. Stiles said plug-in chargers, anything with a clock, remote, or light, and devices like DVRs will continue to use energy if left plugged in. A solution? A smart power strip from the NHSaves catalog
  • Turn down your hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees at tap. Set dehumidifiers appropriately. Wash clothes in cold water. Dry clothes on a line outside, if possible.
  • Invest in LED light bulbs, low-flow shower heads, and faucet aerators. Use Energy Star-labeled appliances and electronics.
  • Stiles urges people to turn down the heat when they’re not home or in a certain room, use programmable or smart thermostats, remove window AC units in the winter, and make sure window latches are closed. 

Beyond the day-to-day habit changes listed above, Stiles spoke about home energy audits, insulation, and heat pumps as more significant steps people can take to improve their energy efficiency. 

People interested in learning more can access various services, products, and rebates through NHSaves, a partnership by Eversource, Liberty Utilities, Unitil, and the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative offering tools and tips to help residents and businesses. 

Be aware of “phantom loads” or “vampire” devices that use power even when they’re turned off. (Source: NHSaves and the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative)

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Hadley Barndollar
Hadley Barndollar

Hadley Barndollar covers climate, energy, environment, and the opioid crisis for the New Hampshire Bulletin. Previously, she was the New England regional reporter for the USA TODAY Network and was named Reporter of the Year by the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Email: [email protected]

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