Put utility bills on ice | TheUnion.com

Put utility bills on ice

While you’re thinking about new energy-efficient windows, doors, and insulation, you may want to consider an interior remodel as well. Energy cost-cutting ideas in terms of new kitchen appliances, laundry ensembles, bathroom updates, and window treatments can save you a bundle of money. Interior decorating and appliance updating solutions can save you 30 to 50 percent or more on your energy bills.

According to the United States Department of Energy, home appliances account for about 70 percent of all primary energy used in homes. Allowing for the refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, range and ovens, the kitchen is the biggest energy user in the house. Today’s refrigerators can cut energy costs by 30 to 50 percent compared to older models.

You should keep your fridge between 36 and 40 degrees, and set the freezer at 0 degrees (10 degrees colder can use up to 25 percent more energy). If possible, position your frig away from other appliances, or other heat sources, and keep a minimum 2-inch clearance around the frig for ventilation. Self-cleaning ovens are better insulated, and consume less energy.

Gas ranges and ovens with pilotless ignitions save 30 percent, compared to constant pilot lights. Newer microwave ovens use 50 to 70 percent less energy to operate than a conventional stove. Be sure to level appliances for proper door seals, and always look for the Energy Star label for efficiency standards. I call our new William Sonoma crock pot the “Cadillac crock” … it’s beautiful, convenient, and produces delicious meals. I’m certain that it has paid for itself many times over this winter.

With a shower, faucets, tub, and toilet, bathrooms consume up to 70 percent of the home’s water. By installing low-flush toilets, and new high-efficiency, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, an average family can reduce water consumption by 17,000 gallons per year. Radiant heat is similar to heating used for electric blankets, and is installed below bathroom (and kitchen) flooring. It provides evenly distributed warmth while saving energy from traditional heating methods. If your hot water heater is warm to the touch, wrap it up with an insulating blanket, and reduce heat loss by 25 percent. Or, check out the newer tankless hot water heater. Many of the new washer/dryer ensembles use less energy and water than older models…some use less energy than a 75-watt light bulb.

Beautiful Hunter Douglas honeycomb window shades control the flow of energy in and out of your windows and dramatically reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 50 percent. Custom lined draperies not only cut heating and cooling costs up to 30 percent, they finish a room’s decor when paired with companion furnishings, family collectibles and artwork. The perfect drapery-fabric patterns and period drapery hardware give you “extra bang for the buck” with insulation value and decorator finish. Curb your energy waste and let the savings flow with interior remodeling and “down-to-earth decorating” ideas.

Voted “Best Interior Designers” by Nevada County Readers from 2002 through 2009, Sandi and Paul Bernstein can be reached at A Shade Above Interiors, (530) 272-6161, and http://www.ashadeaboveinteriors.com.

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