Middleton Electric Light Dept.

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Energy saving tips

ENERGY SAVING TIPS for Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers

Typically humidifiers are run during colder months when various types of heating systems have a tendency to dry out the air in a home.

Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air and are usually run during the warmer, more humid months. Basements are prime areas for dehumidifiers.

Here are a few ways to save energy and stay comfortable when using these appliances:

Purchase a low wattage unit. If you're comparing dehumidifiers with the same capacity, check the wattages on the nameplates. A lower wattage unit that does the same job is a better value.

Look for a humidifier with adjustable humidistat to maintain desired humidity and set so the appliance does not run continuously.
It's estimated that a 175-watt humidifier running 240 hrs. per month (approx. 8 hrs. per day) uses 42 Kwh per month. At a rate of 14 cents per Kwh, that equates to roughly $5.88 per month to run the appliance.

When using a dehumidifier adjust to lowest setting that still provides adequate dehumidification.

Clean the unit. Dust or vacuum the dehumidifier at least once a year before you plug it in. If the unit is difficult to clean, check the owner's manual. Most portable humidifiers on the other hand, require cleaning or sanitizing on a very frequent and regular basis. Check owner's manual.

Keep in mind that a 700-watt dehumidifier running 240 hours per month (approx. 8 hrs per day) uses 168 Kwh per month. Based on 14 cents per Kwh, it costs approximately $23.50 per month to run this appliance.

Both humidifiers and dehumidifiers work best when air can circulate freely through the appliance. Place away from walls and bulky furniture.

When shopping for appliances look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star appliances have been identified as being significantly more energy efficient than average comparable models

Vampire power

V-a-m-p-i-r-e  P-o-w-e-r... BEWARE!

Vampire power is created by any appliance that continues to draw power when not in use. In the typical home, that includes dozens of appliances ranging from the clock radio on your nightstand to the computer in your home office. A couple of watts here, a couple of watts there are sucked away 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Scary? You bet.

Some household appliances are sneaky and draw power even when they are shut off. The source of that drain has been given any number of derogatory names, from vampire power to wall wart to phantom load. And like all vampires, this villain goes without notice -- until the electricity bill arrives at the end of the month.

Vampire power can best be spotted at night. Turn off all the lights and look around your home. Every appliance marked by an LED light, or anything else that glows, is drawing electricity. Not everything that leads to vampire power can be seen in the dark, however. Some must be felt. Cell phone chargers, for example, draw electricity when they are plugged in, whether they are connected to the phone or not.

Uncertain whether an appliance is drawing electricity? Try laying your hands on it. If it's an electrical item that's warm to the touch, it's using energy. Anything that must be reset after a power failure, or anything that operates by remote control (e.g., televisions, VCRs, etc.) draws electricity even when they are turned off. Even your doorbell is indirectly nickel-and-diming your electric bill.

Not all vampire power can be eliminated. For starters, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors draw vampire power but provide lifesaving service. And although not a matter of life or death, unplugging other phantoms is not very practical. Most of us wouldn't think of cutting the power to our alarm clocks and then resetting them before bed each night. So even though not all vampire power is bad, we tend to forget about it and the energy/$$ ... it consumes.

The good news is that there are ways to stop being haunted by vampire power:

FIrst, identify which electronic devices drain power when not in use, then unplug those that are turned off. A very easy way to cut all power to multiple appliances at one time is with one flip of the switch on a surge protector or power strip. Finally when it is time to replace an electronic device, look for energy-efficient models that waste less energy.

Top 10

10 NO-COST/LOW-COST TIPS to Save on Your Energy Bill...

1. Bundle up your home. Hidden gaps and cracks in the home can add up to as much airflow as an open window! The more heat that escapes, the more cold air gets in, causing your heating system to work harder, use more energy, and costing you energy $$s. Start by sealing air leaks and pay special attention to your attic and basement, where the biggest gaps and cracks are often found. Weatherizing can be done done economically using materials such as caulking, weatherstripping, and insulation...where needed.

2) Put on a sweater or sweatshirt and save a few dollars. For every notch you raise the thermostat, your bill goes up by 3%. Try reducing the temperature if possible. Turning down the thermostat by 10 degrees at night or when the house is unoccupied can save as much as 20% of heating costs. Remember, small children and the elderly in particular may be vulnerable to problems at lower temperatures. Reduce the temperature gradually to give your body time to adjust to the new temperature level.

3) Let the sunshine in. Be sure to open draperies and blinds on sunny days to let the sunlight warm your home. But remember to close them at night and on overcast days.

4) Don't light up the whole room. Most of us know to turn off the lights when we leave a room. However even while in a room, if a small reading lamp can be used, just light up your area instead of the whole room. Of course also replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL's) can save $30 to $40 over the life of the bulb.

5) Get a heating system tuneup. A heating and cooling professional can perform an annual inspection and routine maintenance to make sure your furnace is operating at peak performance.

6) Keep the damper closed on your fireplace when not in use. If you keep the damper open, all the heat you are paying for is going right out the chimney. Remember if the damper is not closed, it's like having a window open in the middle of winter ... a waste of energy, money and ... brrrrrr.

7) Reduce hot water temperature. Set your water heater to the "normal" setting of 120 degrees, unless the owner's manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Savings are 7-11% of water heating costs.

8) Shorten showers. Simply reducing that lingering time by a few minutes can save hundreds of gallons of hot water per month for a family of four. Showers account for 66% of your water heating costs. Cutting your showers in half can reduce hot water costs by 33%.

9) Discontinue the use of that older second refrigerator. Got an old beer fridge in the basement? Unplug it and make the trek upstairs to your kitchen refrigerator. It will be good for your heart and your energy bill.

10) Make use of your oven's leftover heat. An oven will keep its heat for about 15-20 minutes after it is turned off. Use this heat to keep things such as second courses, desserts, or anything else that may need to be kept warm.

Green bulb


With the prices of natural gas, heating oil and propane – how you are going to afford to heat your home is of real concern to everyone.

Winter is also the season when companies run full page ads promising that their "special heaters" will help save big bucks on energy bills. No matter what the catchy name is (and there are many), basically these are all just glorified space heaters...and they work the same way: they plug into an outlet and shoot hot air in one direction. And with the claims they make, those heaters can cost hundreds of dollars yet give off as much heat as ceramic heaters which can be purchased at hardware stores for a lot less.

There is no magic to Electric Space Heaters. If they plug into a house electrical circuit, they all have several things in common. Regardless of the claims that a manufacturer makes about their plug-in electric space heater, they are all limited to these facts:

• They are all 100 - percent efficient at turning electricity into heat
• They all convert one watt of electricity into 3.413 British thermal units of heat
• Higher wattage heaters produce more heat
• Plug-in space heaters are limited to 1,500 watts or 5,120 BTUs

Try to avoid using supplemental space heaters, including, electric, kerosene or propane models. Not only are they expensive to operate, they can also be very dangerous.

Electric space heaters are generally inexpensive to buy but can increase your electric bill dramatically if you don't watch it. Nearly all electric space heaters produce the same amount of heat, so the differences lie in safety features, convenience features, reliability and the way the heat is directed. Space heaters are a fairly inefficient way to convert electricity to heat, and they can also run up the electric bill.

Basically, they're good for keeping one room warm at a time, but that means you still have to keep the heat up for the rest of the house ... and don't forget to factor in the cost of electricity to run the heater. It does not matter whether the heater uses electric resistance coils or quartz lights shining on a "cured copper element" or "ceramic quartz tubes" to produce the heat. The wattage consumed by an electric space heater determines how much heat it can produce.

A 1,500 watt heater will produce the same amount of heat regardless of its cost or other features. A $40 heater will be as efficient and effective as a $400 heater. Some ideas seem to stretch the amount of heat an electric heater can produce -- like including a high mass ceramic disk or tubes filled with water or oil in the heater.

Some of the electricity consumed by the heater is used to heat this higher mass so that after the heating element shuts off, heat from the now heated mass continues to radiate from the heater. This does not make the heater more efficient, since electricity was used initially to heat the mass, but it does make the heat feel like it lasts longer.

Some heaters bury the heating element deep in the heater and include a fan that blows air across the element so that heated air comes out one part of the heater while the rest of the heater remains cool to the touch. Others place the heating elements behind a metal screen for more direct transfer of the heat. In this last case, the metal screen can get quite hot.

All new plug-in electric space heaters are equipped with a sensor that shuts off the heating element in the event the heater is tipped over onto its back or side. The bottom line with any electric heater is that the less wattage the heater consumes, the less it will cost to operate. But also keep in mind, the less wattage it consumes, the less heat it will produce as well. A pretty good rule of thumb is - if the manufacturer's advertising claim sounds just too good to be true, it probably is!

Finally, and most importantly ... be safe if using a space heater. Electric space heaters cause an average of 3,000 fires each year in the U.S., often because of improper use, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

If using an electric space heater; please remember the following:

Operate heater away from combustible materials. Do not place heaters where towels or the like could fall on the appliance and trigger a fire.

Avoid using extension cords unless absolutely necessary. If you must use an extension cord with your electric heater, make sure it is marked with a power rating at least as high as that of the heater itself Keep the cord stretched out.

Do not permit the cord to become buried under carpeting or rugs. Do not place anything on top of the cord.

Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture or other like objects. Never use heaters to dry wearing apparel or shoes.