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Save energy: Kansas observes Energy Efficiency Day
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This past Wednesday was Kansas Energy Efficiency Day. Governor Laura Kelly signed a proclamation joining hundreds of state and local governments in a national day of awareness about the benefits of energy efficiency.

As cold weather approaches, the Kansas Corporation Commission wants to remind Kansans this is a great time to winterize your home or business. There are many no- or low-cost ways to save energy. For larger projects, funding is available to help those who qualify.

Homeowners and renters who need assistance with weatherization costs can contact the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation. Income-eligible households receive a comprehensive home energy audit to identify inefficiencies. Services and upgrades are provided free of charge.

The KCC Energy Office, in conjunction with the Kansas State University Engineering Extension, offers small businesses a free energy assessment and assistance applying for a USDA Rural Energy for America Program grant to help pay for improvements. Since 2016, more than $1 million has been awarded to fund energy saving upgrades in Kansas.

Here are some suggestions of things Kansans can do to reduce energy usage:

1. Make the switch to LED - LEDs last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90% less electricity than incandescent bulbs. By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.  

2. Seal those leaks - On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-by-3-foot window. Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors to save up to 20% on heating costs.  

3. Heat and cool efficiently - Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep, and increase when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer to be energy-efficient all year.  

4. Maintain your HVAC system - Make sure to clean or change furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down airflow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money. Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency, saving you money.

5. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label - ENERGY STAR® labeled windows can cut heating costs by as much as 30% compared to single-pane windows, while increasing indoor comfort. If you are undertaking a major home remodel or new build, consider installing ENERGY STAR® qualified HVAC equipment and appliances. 

6. Turn electronics off - That sounds easy, but too often we forget and leave electronics plugged in that are not in use. Turn off unnecessary/idle lights, appliances and electronics. A power strip can help turn off multiple items at once.

7. Winter tip: Invite the sun in - Open curtains/shade on your west-and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and save 2% - 12%.

8. On warmer days: Close blinds and shades - On warm days, excess sunlight will make it harder to keep your home cool and comfortable. During the day, keep your blinds and shades closed to prevent warm air from building up in your home.  

9. Clean your clothing efficiently - A washing machine spends 90% of its energy to heat water. Consider using cold water instead. In addition, try to run full loads as much as possible, because the machine uses roughly the same amount of energy regardless of the load size. Also, consider air-drying.

10. Clean your dishes efficiently - Avoid the “rinse hold” cycle and skip heated drying – simply open the door at the end of the washing cycle and let the dishes air dry!

Although Energy Efficiency Day is past, it’s never too late to reduce energy usage.