spring energy connecticutWarmer weather gets us thinking about being outside and enjoying the sunshine. But, we also wonder how high our electricity bills will be when we’re cooling off inside. If you’re looking to cut your cooling costs without sacrificing your family’s comfort and summer fun, check out these 11 energy savers tips.

1. Use Your Ceiling Fans

Did you know that the average ceiling fan, run at its highest speed, consumes about 75 watts of power? If you run your ceiling fan for 24 hours a day, and the price per kWh is $0.10, using a ceiling fan would cost you $0.53 per day.

Now, compare that to an air conditioner that consumes roughly 2,000 watts of power. If you run your ceiling fan for 24 hours a day, and the price per kWh is $0.10, using the air conditioner would cost you $4.80 per day.

This simple exercise allows you to quickly see how using the fans in your home can translate to reduced energy bills.

Furthermore, The U.S. Department of Energy, says that cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat by roughly four degrees, which can further reduce your energy bill by up to 30 percent.  

2. Update Your Windows

During the spring and summer, direct sunlight can significantly warm up your home. One energy savers tip is to prevent UV rays from bringing unwanted heat into your house, as a way to reduce your energy bill.

According to ENERGY STAR, a typical home will save $126–$465 a year when replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows, and $27–$111 a year when replacing double-pane windows.

Bonus energy savers tip: Invest in heavily-insulated drapes to block even more heat from entering your home as an additional way to save energy in the spring.

3. Check Seals Around Your Windows and Doors

Letting hot air into your home — or cold air out — due to gaps around your windows and doors might be costing you more than you expect. According to The U.S. Department of Energy, sealing any leaks or drafts in your home can save you between five and 30 percent per year in energy costs.

Sealing leaks on your doors and windows is a simple process, too. All you need is caulk or weatherstripping materials and you can block unwanted airflow in a snap.

4. Manage Airflow

Homeowners can manage the airflow in a number of ways. The first is by using exhaust fans strategically. Exhaust fans pull the warm air from your home and send it outside, on particularly warm days, turn your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans on to force warm air outside to decrease the use of your AC. 

You can also rearrange your furniture away from your heating and cooling systems baseboard or registers. By moving obstacles away from your home’s airflow, you can maximize circulation, heating and cooling more of your home. 

Bonus energy savers tip: If a cool day is in the forecast, try to maximize heat from your oven or stovetop. When you finish baking, leave the oven door open so the warm air can circulate through your home.

5. Check Your Refrigerator Gasket

You might be surprised to learn that a refrigerator accounts for almost 14 percent of the average homeowner’s electrical bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

One energy savers tip is to ensure all of your refrigerator’s components are running well, so it doesn’t take up more energy than normal. That’s why you should inspect your refrigerator gaskets often.

Your refrigerator gasket is the rubber seal around the inside of the door and is responsible for keeping the cold air in. If this gasket breaks or cracks, it can allow the warm air inside of your home to enter your refrigerator, causing the compressor to work harder to maintain a cool temperature, and increasing your electricity bill.

6. Upgrade Your Lighting

If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, you should know that only 10 percent of the electricity they consume is used for light, the rest is turned into heat. Not only does that mean you’re paying more for less light, but you’re also unknowingly warming your home.

Opt for more efficient lights like LEDs, which according to the Department of Energy use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.

And remember to turn the lights off when you’re not in the room. For a 40 watts lightbulb that’s on for one hour, you can expect to consume 0.04 kWh. If your electricity rate is $0.10 per kWh, every hour means $0.04 out of your pocket — at 24 hours a day, that’s nearly a dollar a day!  

Bonus energy savers tip: For even more savings, harness the power of the sun! If it looks like a chilly night is in the forecast, leave curtains open during the day to allow the sunlight to warm the room and close them at night to keep the heat in so you can rely less on your heating system.

7.  Get Your AC Tuned-up by a Licensed Professional

If you get your air conditioner tuned up in the spring, you’ll prevent yourself from potential meltdowns in the summer. It’s important to call in a professional to tune-up your AC so you and your family can be safe!

Air conditioners are high voltage, and without proper knowledge and equipment, it can be dangerous to take a tune-up on as a DIY project.

During a tune-up, a licensed professional comprehensively look for any AC system failures:

It’s especially important to call in the pros if you suspect a leak in your equipment. It’s very difficult to inspect an AC for leaks without training and expertise in the field. But, leaks decrease the efficiency of your system and cause potential health issues for you and your family. 

Change your air filters yourself! 

Remember to check your furnace and AC filter at the start of the season, and change it out if needed. A clean filter will maximize your system’s output. 

Need help changing your filter? 

Watch this video that demonstrates how you can easily make the tune-up on your own: 

Pro Tip: Warm weather is right around the corner! Remember you can get your AC system service any time the temperature outside of over 65 degrees. During an AC tune-up, a technician can perform this service with limited access to your home, so rest assured your family, and our staff will be protected during the service! 

8. Check Your Water Heater

First things first, check the thermostat on your current water heater. Many manufacturers automatically set water heater thermostats to 140°F,  though 120°F will work for your home just fine.

Adjusting the thermostat to 120° will help you avoid scalding temperatures when you turn on your hot water, and will also cut energy costs. Even when you’re not actively using your water heater, reducing the temperature will save you $36 to $61, annually, in standby heat savings. And, adjusting the heat down will save you more than $400 per year, during active water heater use, according to The U.S. Department of Energy.

Bonus energy savers tip: Each year, drain a quarter of your water heater tank to remove sediment and debris to ensure your water heater is working as efficiently as possible all year round.

9. Conserve Hot Water

While you’re at it, don’t just focus on the cleanliness of your hot water heater, also pay attention to how frequently you use it.  Minimizing the amount of hot water you use throughout the year can save you on your energy bills. Remember to:

10. Know Your AC Thermostat 

Remember, you are in control of how frequently your system runs! Complete control over your thermostat is especially useful during the spring when we experience colder nights and warmer days. That’s because constantly adjusting the temperature inside your home can be a costly mistake: The cooler you keep your home with an air conditioner, the higher your electric bills will be.  

According to the U.S Department of Energy, 78° F is the most efficient temperature to run your AC when you’re home. While you’re away, it’s best to keep the thermostat at 85°. Adjusting your temperature down to just 72° can increase your energy bills by roughly 47 percent

Read our full article on maximizing the lifespan of your AC unit, while protecting your energy bill.

11. Upgrade to ENERGY STAR

ENERGY STAR-qualified windows can save you heaps of money this spring, but that’s not the only upgrade you can make. There are plenty of other appliances you can upgrade to increase your savings even more.

By equipping your home with ENERGY STAR refrigerators, dishwashers, and heating and cooling systems you can reduce your home energy use by up to 50 percent.

how to shovel snow connecticutIf you live in the northeast, snow is nothing new. The first storm of the winter season has most likely already passed, and we can all be sure there are more to come. 

Still, no matter how many times you have shoveled your driveway, there are always ways to improve. Use these tips next storm for a safer, more efficient shoveling experience.

Shovel Safely

For many of us, shoveling snow is an unpleasant chore, but for others, it’s a downright dangerous activity.

According to the American Heart Association, shoveling snow can put some people at risk of a heart attack. Especially if you’re not a particularly active person throughout the year. 

Sudden exertion, like moving dense mounds of snow, can put a strain on the heart, especially as we get older. 

If you don’t prepare your body for shoveling correctly, you can easily injure yourself during the tedious task. That makes it critical for you to take a few precautions before cleaning off your driveway.

Stretch Before Lifting

Before beginning your shoveling for the day, take a few minutes to stretch out your legs, back, arms, and shoulders. Stretching will warm your muscles up to help prevent injury. If you become tired when shoveling, don’t overdo it, take a break to regain your energy.

Work in Shifts

The longer that snow sits, the heavier and denser it becomes. Try attacking snow in your driveway when it’s fresh. Even if you anticipate snowfall for the entire day and the idea of going in and out of your home to shovel sounds daunting, remind yourself, it’s easier to shovel two inches of fresh snow than six inches of packed snow.  By shoveling in shifts, throughout the day, you’ll have lighter shovels, and you’ll be able to conserve your energy.

Practice Good Form

If you choose to lift snow, as opposed to pushing it, remember to keep good form so you can protect your body from injury:

Know your limits. Don’t fill your shovel with too much snow at once. Overexertion will make you tired quickly, and could make you more prone to injuries. 

Stay Fueled Up

If you’ve grown up in the snow, the idea of shoveling is just one that comes with the seasons. But, when is the last time you thought about just how much energy you’re actually exerting while performing the task? During the next storm, be sure to take breaks so you can stay hydrated, eat properly, and refuel your electrolytes while shoveling. Remember to refuel after you’re done shoveling as well.

Shovel Efficiently and Effectively

There is always room for improvement when it comes to your shoveling technique. Consider these tricks for shoveling snow more effectively and efficiently. 

Push Snow Rather Than Lifting

You will exert less energy, and protect your back if you push snow rather than lifting it. This is an especially important tip if the snow has gotten ahead of you, and it’s dense and compact.  

You might also consider using a snow blower for efficiency. If you decide to use a blower, follow the  American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons standards of safety, which recommends:

Don’t Shovel the Same Snow Twice

Make the best use of your time and be as efficient as possible, by avoiding touching the same snow more than once. Shovelers become victims of the ‘two-touch’ method when piling snow into large banks on the perimeter of a driveway. By using this technique, snow will often slide from the top of these tall mounds back down onto your driveway, causing you to remove it again. 

To avoid this from happening, evenly disperse where you dump your snow to avoid tall piles.

Save The Apron For Last

Nothing is more frustrating than getting your driveway clear all the way to the street, only to have the plow push the snow right back onto the foot of your driveway. If you are shoveling during a snowstorm or immediately after one ends, chances are the snowplows will still be running. Let them plow the street first because there will be an excessive amount of snow at the foot of your driveway. 

Save shoveling this area for last to avoid shoveling it multiple times throughout the day.

Prepare Early

Check the weather report! If you see snow in the forecast, prepare by adding salt to your driveway for an easier day of shoveling to follow. Salt on your driveway causes ice to melt because the solution of water and dissolved salt has a lower freezing point than pure water. This means you won’t have to hack the shovel against the ice to break it up, making for a strenuous situation. It will also decrease the density of your snow mound. 

At Santa Fuel, we take safety in our community very seriously. If shoveling snow is becoming too much of a burden to you, see if a friendly neighbor, family member, or friend can lend a hand. Some communities have Village Networks that allow you to rely on volunteers to help you move snow when it’s too overwhelming for you.

home winter ready connecticutWinter is coming; is your house ready? We prepare ourselves for the winter by purchasing warmer clothes or installing snow tires on our vehicles, but many of us don’t think about preparing our homes as well.

Still, just like anything else, your house is affected by cold weather and snow. By working through this simple, nine-step home winterization checklist, you can help keep your home warm and safe while keeping your energy bills low.

Step 1: Check On Your Heating System

Your first order of business, when getting ready for the impending cold snap, is to ensure you’ll have heat when the chill arrives.

If you haven’t run your heating system in a while, turn it on to make sure everything is functioning correctly. Additionally, it’s wise to:

Step 2: Seal Drafty Windows and Doors

If you feel drafts in your home, your money could be going right out of the window – literally. Drafty windows and doors allow heated air to escape your home and cold air to enter it, which can increase your monthly heating bill by up to 25%.

To block drafts from coming through your windows and doors, consider adding the following material to door and window frames:

Some homeowners also use insulated curtains as extra reinforcement for window drafts.

If you’re unsure where the leaks are coming from, an energy audit can identify where leaks are occurring, and professionals can properly seal them in a matter of minutes.

Step 3: Winterize Your Air Conditioner

Have you taken proper measures to protect your air conditioner against the harsh winter?

Cleaning and covering the condensing unit staves off the damage that can be done by wet leaves and debris which can accelerate rusting or cause freezing in your AC unit’s internal components.

Protecting your equipment means that when warmer months come around, your AC will be functioning properly.

Step 4: Check Your Roof 

If your roof shows signs of aging, not only will your heating bills increase this winter, but you may also be prone to leaks and water damage that can set you back some serious cash in repairs.

To see if your roof is winter-ready, check for:

If anything looks awry, have repairs made immediately to secure your home for heavy snowfall.

Step 5: Replace Screen Windows and Doors

Take the time to remove all of the screen windows and doors in your house and replace them with storm windows and doors.

Besides adding a layer of insulation, and helping reduce air leaks, storm windows help protect your primary windows from winter elements, which screen windows would allow in.

Step 6: Test Your Generator

If the power goes out in the middle of winter, it’s critical to be prepared to protect your family and your home. Many Northeasterners invest in a generator for a backup power supply in case the storms get too intense.

Before winter strikes, test your equipment to make sure it’s functioning when you need it most. If you haven’t in a while, give your equipment routine maintenance.

For more tips, read six ways to maintain your generator. 

Step 7: Get Your Chimney, Fireplace and Flue Serviced

If your home has a fireplace, you should get your chimney inspected annually. In addition to the energy benefits it offers, it is crucial for your family’s safety. Every year, 25,000 homes across the country suffer from fires due to poor chimney maintenance.

As a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild, Santa Energy can clean your chimney and inspect it for potential obstructions. We also check the chimney draft to ensure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly and inspect the brick inside your chimney for gaps and exposed walls that are susceptible to danger from rogue sparks.

Step 8: Protect Your Water Pipes

Protect your pipes from freezing this winter by insulating exposed piping, both inside and outside your home. Don’t overlook piping in your attic, basement, or crawl spaces that aren’t visible to you day-to-day.

To insulate the piping, wrap them with electrical heating tape first, then foam insulating sleeves (or more industrial material) to protect them from the winter weather.

If you plan to leave your home for the winter for an extended period of time, it’s always wise to consider shutting off your water altogether to avoid and costly mishaps from frozen pipes or water damage.

Additionally, if you have a sprinkler system at your home, make sure to also blow the water out of their pipes as well to reduce cracking in your system.

Step 9: Make Your Home Energy Efficient

There are several small adjustments you can make to your day-to-day habits and home upkeep that will decrease your energy bills, even more, this winter. For example:

For more recommendations to optimize your home’s energy, or for more winterization tips, consider the following resources:

propane tank lifespan connecticut

(Photo/Unsplash)

Not having enough propane on hand can be both a burden and a danger. From running out of fuel during the middle of a cookout to not having heating oil on a cold winter’s night, it’s important to know the specifics of propane tank maintenance, how quickly the fuel burns, and how to tell if you’re running low on fuel.

What are the most common propane tank sizes?

Residential propane tanks range in size from 100-1,000 gallons. Smaller tanks, like 20-pound tanks, are sold for modest needs like outdoor barbecuing or small appliances like fireplaces.

Homes 2,500 square feet or larger, that have multiple appliances running on propane, will most likely use a 500-gallon tank. Propane tanks any larger than 500-gallons are often reserved for commercial use.

What are some common uses for propane?

How you put your propane to use will play a role in how long your fuel source will last.  Consider the most common uses for propane:

Grilling

As mentioned above, 20-pound propane tanks are used for modest tasks like cooking individual meals. As a rule of thumb, one tank of propane will typically last between 18-20 hours if you’re grilling on a medium-sized grill. Whereas larger grills can burn through 20-pounds of propane in as little as 10 hours.

On average, you’ll use one or two pounds of fuel per meal if you use a medium-sized grill on high heat. That equals roughly 8 grilling sessions per tank.

Furnaces

British Thermal Unit, or BTUs, is the industry standard used to measure the heating efficiency of household appliances. The average home furnace runs on roughly 100,000 BTUs, and one gallon of propane equals 92,000 BTUs. That means the average home furnace burns roughly one gallon of propane per hour.

In this example, a home furnace will burn anywhere from 500-1,200 gallons of propane per year, depending on how often you turn on your furnace.

Hot Water Heaters

Your hot water heater usage will vary based on how many bathrooms you have in your home, and how many people are in and out of your home. As a rule of thumb, the average home uses about 1.5 gallons of propane a day for typical hot water heating use.

The average homeowner can expect to use somewhere between 200-300 gallons of propane per year for hot water.

Overall, the average homeowner will use roughly 2.5, 500-gallon tanks of propane each year for home heating and cooking.

How to Calculate Your Burn Rate

For even more customized calculations, you can follow the steps below:

  1. First, find how much your physical tank weighs. This measurement, also known as the tare weight, should be indicated on the tank itself.
  2. Subtract the tare weight from the total weight of your tank (with fuel inside).
  3. Then, divide the total weight of your tank by 4.24. (4.24 pounds of propane = one gallon, and makes for easier conversion moving forward.)
  4. If you have a propane grill that burns at a rate of 60,000 BTU per hour, that’s the same as saying it will take 1.53 hours to burn 1 gallon of propane. (92,000 BTUs for one gallon of propane/60,000 the burn rate of the appliance = 1.53 hours)
  5. Divide the total gallons of your tank by the hourly burn rate of your appliance to see how many hours of fuel you have left.
  6. By repeating this process, you can see how varied appliances, with different BTU rates, will burn fuel.

As you can see, the calculation is slightly complex so it might be wise to consult with a professional if you need assistance.

When should you order more propane?

Propane doesn’t expire. So, with its long shelf-life, the only reason you’ll need to order more propane is when you’re running low. Unless your propane delivery service provider monitors your fuel level and delivers to you automatically, you’ll need to learn how to read the gauge on your propane tank.

The most important number to know when reading your gauge is the fuel level. It should never be more than 80% full. The reason is thermal expansion. Keeping your tank filled less than 100% ensures the fuel in your tank can expand with no risk to the tank or your safety.

Once your gauge reads 20%, it’s time to reorder your supply of propane.

Here is a quick video to help you read the gauge on your propane tank:

How long do propane tanks last and can you prolong the lifespan?

Large stationary propane tanks need to be recertified 10 years after their date of manufacture and every five years following that. But, as long as your above or underground propane tank was installed correctly and you perform proper maintenance on the tank, and connected appliances, your propane tank will remain suitable for use for decades.

Here’s a quick maintenance checklist:

Getting Your Propane Fix

Santa is known for its reliable delivery and exceptional customer service in Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut. Santa also offers automatic propane delivery, which means we’ll track the levels of your fuel and send out a new delivery before your supply runs out.

Get propane delivered to your door before it runs out.

The differences between natural gas and propane can be confusing. Especially because propane is one of the fuels that make up natural gas, the other fuels being butane, methane, ethane.

While propane is a part of natural gas, it becomes a unique source of fuel on its own when it’s separated during processing. So, let’s take a look at both fuels. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each, and which is best for a homeowner to use?

Head-to-Head Comparison: Pros and Cons of Propane and Natural Gas

When selecting a fuel for your home, it’s important to weigh its safety, the cost, how efficient the fuel is, and what the environmental impact is. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of natural gas and propane, for each of the aforementioned considerations.

Safety

Both fuels are highly flammable and should be handled with care. But due to the infrastructure (and bureaucratic red tape) that comes with natural gas lines, leaks can be challenging to identify and fix. This is because utility companies and the public utility commission need to come to an understanding of how to fund repairs or upgrades before taking action.

And, when lines go unattended accidents happen.

For instance, in 2010 a natural gas line owned by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) exploded in San Bruno, Calif., killing eight people. After investigation, it was learned that the gas line was faulty, and PG&E was previously unaware of the line’s damage. 

Though propane tanks can also explode, it’s much less likely. And, because propane tanks aren’t connected by wide-spread gas lines, the impact is less significant. 

Furthermore, though some companies that supply natural gas add a scent like sulfur so that you can more easily detect a leak, natural gas leaks can be harder to detect because in its natural state the fuel is odorless. 

Due to the severity of a mishap, as rare as they may be, propane is deemed a safer heating fuel.

Environment

Even though natural gas is considered a greenhouse gas, it burns roughly 50% fewer emissions than coal. Still, it’s toxicity is higher than propane, which is not toxic or damaging to the environment. If propane were to leak into the ground, it would not harm the local water or soil.

That said, both are still considered eco-friendly fuels. But, for this round, we give propane a slight advantage as a green fuel.

Cost and Efficiency

The true cost of propane vs. natural gas for your residence will depend on several factors, including if your home is outfitted for the fuels. But, for this comparison, we’ll examine propane and natural gas cost in terms of BTUs and gallons.

At the time this article was written, the average cost of natural gas cost is $6.23 per 1,000 cubic feet, which is roughly one million BTUs. The U.S. average cost for propane is $2.41 per gallon. One million BTUs of natural gas is roughly 11.20 gallons of propane. Which means for the same amount of fuel, you’ll pay $6.23 for natural gas and $26.99 for propane.

However, actual cost should also take into consideration efficiency

The more efficient the fuel is, the less you’ll use, which plays a role in overall cost. And, overall, propane is the more efficient fuel.

One cubic foot of propane equals 2,516 BTUs, while one cubic foot of natural gas equals 1,030 BTUs. That means, propane is more than twice the energy of natural gas.

While the cost per gallon is less for natural gas, you’ll use more of it to heat the same appliances. If you get two times the heat from propane, naturally, you’ll use less fuel.

In this combined round, propane wins for efficiency and overall cost.

Installation

Key Differences Between Propane and Natural Gas

The most notable difference between the two fuels is how they wind up at your home, that is, how they’re delivered to you. To start, not every location in the United States has the option of either propane or natural gas. Depending on where you live, you may be restricted to only one option.

Additionally, how the fuel is stored at your home, and refilled, will be another differentiating factor.

Natural gas remains in its gaseous state and is delivered to the home through a pipeline, so deliveries aren’t required, but having the infrastructure in place to receive the fuel is. This infrastructure might include costs like:

These costs can rise to more than $10,000 for homeowners who need a complete conversion.

Propane comes in portable canisters or permanent storage tanks. To refill, customers will either go to a retail location themselves or turn to a company for delivery. For Santa Fuel customers, you can schedule automatic deliveries so that you’ll have fuel before your tank runs out, eliminating the hassle.

Which gas is right for you?

Propane

Because propane delivers more BTUs for your dollar, it’s often the choice fuel to run your home appliances more efficiently. It’s also typically better for cooking, especially if you utilize an outdoor barbeque, as it’s more cost-effective for high-heat grilling.

Additionally, propane is seen as an “off-the-grid” heating solution. Meaning propane is portable and can easily work if other systems in your house malfunction, or if you need to move to another location.  

Natural gas

Natural gas, on the other hand, is a hands-off solution. You’ll never need to schedule a delivery because natural gas will always be flowing to your home. And, you’ll never pay for more than what you use with natural gas because there isn’t any fuel stored in a tank. You pay as you go.

If you’re already equipped with the infrastructure, it makes sense to stick with natural gas.  

The ultimate winner will be whichever fits best into your lifestyle and current set up. Are you able to access both fuels, how much infrastructure would you need to implement to get either of the fuels and what do you plan to use your fuel for most?

Where to buy propane and natural gas?

If you’re in the Fairfield or New Haven areas in Connecticut, Santa Energy can help you assess which fuel makes the most sense for your home. Santa Energy is a dependable source for fuel delivery, equipment installation, maintenance, and ongoing support to ensure your home is maximizing energy, safely.

Check out our complete suite of propane and natural gas services.