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Pop Quiz! Which takes more electricity, AC or heat?

By Jana Fischback, SNCW Executive Director

Well, that was quick. I think we’re all a bit shocked from going from summer clothes to needing winter coats with what feels like very few days in-between. October was pretty warm then boom - it's November and winter is here! I’m not complaining of course; I’ll take cold weather over smoke any day.

With cooler temperatures comes the opportunity to save some energy by turning down the heat in your home a few degrees. By doing this at night and when you leave the house, you can save up to 10% on your electric bill, says Josh Mitchell, Chelan County PUD’s Residential Energy Advisor. Apart from those who are sick or elderly, this is something pretty much anyone can do, regardless of whether you own a house, rent one, or live in an apartment. For homeowners, a programmable thermostat makes it easy and a smart thermostat, even easier.

I was surprised to learn that heating a home actually takes a lot more energy than cooling it. For a typical all-electric home in our area, up to half of the electricity used is for heating, while air conditioning typically makes up about 15%. So while turning the temp up a couple of degrees in summer helps save a little energy, it makes even more sense to keep your home a bit cooler during our cold weather in late fall, winter and early spring. Conserving energy here also allows the PUD to sell more power on the open market, which helps keep our rates low for the long term. Other low/no cost examples are washing clothes in cold water and always drying on low, even if it takes longer (which is better for the longevity of your clothes, by the way). Also, because heating is such a big energy draw, sealing and caulking can be a cost-effective way to conserve electricity. Be sure to seal around your doors, windows, and other places where warm air can escape, like a chimney. A final reason to conserve electricity at home is to account for the increased electricity use you’ll see if you start to go electric. We got an electric leaf blower this year and it is ah-mazing. It is much quieter and lighter than our old gas-powered version and doesn't have the stinky, polluting fumes. Ready for an EV? An electric car charged at home consumes less than you might think, less than a typical water heater in a year. In fact, replacing an older water heater with a hybrid option will save you half the energy needed to power your car, according to Jim White, Senior Energy Conservation Engineer with Chelan PUD. Homeowners who are able to upgrade an appliance or two, plus save by using some low/no cost conservation methods mentioned above, might hardly notice an increase in their bill after buying an EV.

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