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As the weather warms, take control of your energy bills

 

Last updated 5/3/2022 at 2:56pm | View PDF

Black Hills Energy

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:

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.

Service your furnace. An annual furnace inspection will ensure your heating system is working safely and efficiently. Our experienced Service Guard technicians can help keep your furnace in shape. Visit http://www.blackhillsenergy.com/service-guard to learn more.

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.

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: https://www.blackhillsenergy.com/efficiency-and-savings/energy-saving-tips/monitoring-energy-usage/water-heaters

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 six actions can go a long way to helping keep your home running efficiently and energy costs down. For more energy-saving tips and to apply for an energy audit and rebates, visit http://www.blackhillsenergy.com/monitor-energy-usage.

If you need help paying your energy bills, please reach out to our customer service team (888-890-5554) or visit our energy assistance programs webpage: http://www.blackhillsenergy.com/assistance-programs.

Water heaters: Save more with these tips

Approximate kWh per month: 405 kWh

Take a shower instead of a bath: Typically, a shower uses 10-20 gallons of water, while a bath uses 30. But don't shower for more than five minutes.

Fix that leaky faucet: One drop of water per second equals 60 gallons of water a week. A leak that would fill a coffee cup in 10 minutes would waste 3,280 gallons of water in a year.

Use cold water when you can: Modern detergents allow you to use cold water more than ever before. Eighty to 85 percent of the energy used in washing clothes is from heating the water.

Install flow restrictors and aerators: By installing water flow restrictors in shower heads and faucets, you could save up to 50 percent on hot water use. There are different types of flow restrictors for shower heads and aerators for other faucets. They all reduce water usage without being noticeable.

Lower your water heater setting: Lowering your temperature setting a few degrees can save energy. Lowering your temperature to under 120 degrees can save you up to 10 percent on your water heater costs.

Water heater maintenance: To remove sediment, it may be a good idea to drain a bucketful of water from your water heater every month. However, you should do this only if your water heater is less than a year old or if it has been drained regularly. If it hasn't been drained regularly, the drain valve could become clogged, and you might not be able to shut it again. Also, just replace old or inefficient water heaters

Insulate your water heater: Don't install a water heater in an unheated storage room or garage. If your unit is in a location that's exposed to cold temperatures, insulating the unit and the pipes will help to reduce costs associated with it. Use a water heater blanket to wrap around the pipes coming out of your water heater and the heater itself. But be careful not to insulate the top or bottom of a gas-operated or oil-operated water heater because it may interfere with venting. 

On-demand water heaters: For on-demand water heaters, ensure there isn't hardwater build up on the heating elements

While you're away: Remember to turn down the water heater when you leave on vacation

 

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