It's that time of the year again; time to set our clocks back an hour, return to standard time, and "gain" an extra hour. That means this Sunday, November 1 at 2:00 am, Daylight Saving Time officially ends until its return on the second Sunday in March, 2010.
Since 2007, Daylight Saving Time has actually been four weeks longer, thanks to the passage of the Energy Policy Act in 2005 (which my car hasn't yet caught onto). The Act extended Daylight Saving Time by four weeks in an attempt to save 10,000 barrels of oil each day through reduced use of power by businesses during daylight hours. Unfortunately, the Department of Energy (DOE) says that it's difficult to determine actual energy savings, if any, as a result of Daylight Saving Time. But, there are definitely some easy steps you can take to save significantly on your household energy bills.
Did you know that water heating can account for 14%–25% of the energy consumed in your home, especially in the coming months? According to the DOE, it's true. With this in mind, I thought I'd share with you a few of the DOE's energy-efficient water heating strategies to help you save throughout the holiday season.
* Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
* Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120° F.
* Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.
* Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads. Select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) for maximum water efficiency.
* Consider natural-gas on-demand or tankless water heaters. Researchers have found savings can be up to 30% compared with a standard natural-gas storage tank water heater.
* Consider installing a drain water waste heat recovery system. A recent DOE study showed energy savings of 25% to about 30% for water heating using such a system.
* Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Some new water heaters have built-in heat traps.
* Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.
Have a safe and happy Halloween – and enjoy your "extra hour" of standard time.