Guest column: Saving energy costs in warm weather

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We know customer bills and energy usage are topics of conversation in the communities we serve. A combination of factors — including the increased cost of the natural gas we purchase, recovery of costs associated with Storm Uri and costs to help cover system investments and improvements — have added to monthly costs.
 
The common thread is that each of these costs are necessary to provide the safe, reliable natural gas service that our customers depend on. We know changes to monthly bills can have an impact on the household budget and we’re here to help. As the weather warms, many families tackle home spring cleaning projects, like deep cleaning or organizing. But did you know there are several spring cleaning actions you can take that could help lower your natural gas bills? Here are five jobs to tackle to help reduce your energy usage and make your home — and appliances — more energy efficient:
 
1. Replace filters for your HVAC system. Check and replace your filters every three months. Dirty filters make your furnace work extra hard to push the air through, using more energy and increasing the wear and tear on your system.
 
2. Service your furnace. An annual furnace inspection will ensure your heating system is working safely and efficiently.
 
3. Deep clean your oven. When an oven is deep cleaned, it will reach desired cooking temperatures more quickly which reduces energy usage. Heat is also better distributed, so your food is cooked more evenly. Keep in mind that frequently using the self-cleaning feature on your oven can be expensive because it uses a lot of energy, so try to wipe up messes promptly using baking soda and water to keep your oven clean throughout the year.
 
4. Flush your hot water heater. Doing this annually is not only good for your water heater, but you’ll also become familiar with how the appliance works and better equipped to spot potential issues. Plus, if your unit is in a spot that’s exposed to cold temperatures, consider insulating the unit to help reduce how much energy its using to heat water. See more hot water heater tips here.
 
5. Conduct a home safety check. Lastly, remember to replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Plus, test the units to make sure they’re still working properly.
 
Black Hills Energy is committed to keeping you safe, while empowering you to take control of your energy usage. There’s no better time to tackle home efficiency projects than during annual spring cleaning and these five actions can go a long way to helping keep your home running efficiently and energy costs down. For more energy-saving tips, visit www.blackhillsenergy.com/monitor-energy-usage.
 
Amy Fiala is an energy efficiency coordinator for Black Hills Energy, a utility serving Colorado and seven other states.

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