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January 6, 2015 - 08:15
Sentinel & Enterprise

FITCHBURG -- Unitil Corp., the electricity and natural-gas provider for Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Townsend and Ashby, reports that energy usage is highest during this time of year, due to a combination of the cold weather, holiday events and get-togethers and, in some households, elaborate holiday displays.

Derek Kimball, manager of residential services of Unitil, said with the shorter days, people also end up using lights more, and that's a good place to start when trying to lower energy usage.

"Look at the types of fixtures you have and how often they are on," Kimball said.

He said it's a good idea to replace older incandescent lights with newer CFL bulbs, in general, and the rule is especially true for lights that will be on for three or more hours a day.

Kimball also said to check insulation levels connecting to the attic and basement, as they are common places where heat is lost. He said when people run wires or plumbing fixtures through different levels, they often create new air-leak spots that need to be plugged with foam insulation.

On the stove, Kimball said to match the pan size to the element size to prevent waste. For example, a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the heat produced by the burner. He also recommended using smaller pots and pans when possible.

"If you're cooking two eggs, you don't need a big frying pan for that," he said.

Also, keep the stove top clean and shiny, particularly the replaceable burner pans.If they become blackened, the dark areas will absorb heat instead of reflecting it, which reduces the efficiency of burners. Burner pans can be scrubbed or replaced cheaply. A set of four can be purchased for $10 to $15.

Don't run dishwashers until they are full, and then select the shortest cycle that will adequately clean the dishes. If the dishwasher model allows it, users can also save power by shutting it down before the drying cycle and keeping the dishwasher door ajar instead.

Set the refrigerator dial to 36 to 40 degrees and the freezer to zero to 5 degrees. Look to see if the refrigerator has an energy saver switch, and if so, activate it. Defrosting is also recommended before ice gets to be a quarter-inch thick, because the appliance will have to work harder through the ice.

Kimball recommends using cold water in the washing machine when possible. While white clothing needs warm or hot water, he said other loads of pants and shirts will do just fine in cold water and use less energy.

 

Read the full story, here.

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