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Turn down furnace, not free PA $

My friends tell me that I should turn my heat down at night and when I leave the house, to save on my heating bill. But doesn't it take more energy to reheat the house than to keep it at a constant temperature? Can you help solve this ongoing debate?

Turn down furnace, not free PA $

Energy Q & A with ECA

Here's the second energy advice column from the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA).


ECA is here on Earth to Philly to answer any and all questions about energy issues in your home or other buildings. Whatever your question, send it in and we'll try to get you the most comprehensive answer possible.

ECA is a Philadelphia nonprofit with 24 years of experience in energy conservation issues. Our mission is to help people conserve energy and to promote a sustainable and socially equitable energy future for all. ECA received the 2008 ENERGY STAR Leadership in Housing Award from the U.S. EPA for our ENERGY STAR work in affordable housing.

Another good turn

Q: My friends tell me that I should turn my heat down at night and when I leave the house, to save on my heating bill.  But doesn't it take more energy to reheat the house than to keep it at a constant temperature? Can you help solve this ongoing debate?

Yes, your friend is right. You should turn down your heat at night and when you leave the house during the day. You save more during the time the heater is not working than it takes to reheat the house. This simple step is one of the most cost effective ways to save a lot of money during the winter. Say, for example, that you keep your house at 68 degrees when you are home and awake, but when you're asleep or leave the house you set your thermostat back to 55.   You could save approximately 10% on your heating bill, which for most people will be hundreds of dollars a year!

If you're worried about waking up to a cold house, the best way to insure both your comfort and savings is with a clock thermostat, which allows you to control when the heat turns off and kicks back on. That way you can make sure your house is warm and toasty when your feet hit the floor in the morning.

There are many types of clock thermostats, which are also called setback or programmable thermostats.  You'll want one which can give you a double setback, at night and during the day.  Some also give you the ability to change the settings during the weekends, to accommodate a different schedule, as well as a vacation setting.

It's also important to know that if your home is nice and tight and well insulated, your temperature overnight won't actually fall to 55 degrees.  The tighter the house, the more it holds onto its heat.

So don't put it off any longer.  Start setting back and saving big!!

Show us the money (III)

Q: I heard that the Alternative Energy Investment Act, funding consumer incentives for energy upgrades, was passed half a year ago. When will the money from that law start being available to us?

The earliest programs are likely to roll out in February 2009. These front-runners will be focused on energy efficiency and will be mostly in the form of low-interest loans and possibly rebates for energy efficiency improvements like air sealinoesn't it tag, insulation, and energy efficient appliances. There will be $7.5 million available in 2009 for homeowners and small businesses statewide. Once the bond market recovers, the state will issue bonds to support a much larger solar photovoltaic program.  Approximately $200 million will be available to help finance both large and small scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. You can read the bill here. 

Additionally, the $700 billion bailout of October included renewed tax credits for energy efficiency, solar PV, solar hot water heating, wind, and other renewable energy sources. The energy efficiency tax credits start on January 1, 2009. Next year will be a great time to make energy improvements and look into renewable energy because of the double incentive of federal tax credits and state incentives. You can see a summary of the tax credits here. and download the tax credit form here.



Got an energy question? Send it in to energy@phillynews.com and watch for an answer in an upcoming edition of Stay Warm, Stay Green.
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