Ask the Ecologist:

by Belle Bergner

Q: What are the most effective energy efficiency techniques I can use to save energy and lower heating costs this winter?

A: A lot depends on the current condition of your home or apartment, amount of insulation, quality of windows, etc. It doesn’t hurt to do some research and find out where you’ll achieve the most improvement in energy efficiency with the least cost. Do your own home energy audit online at www. analysis.asp.

Whether you own or rent, there are some strategic actions you can take. Here’s some help from my experience and some tips from Focus on Energy ( and We Energies ( Check out these sites for even more suggestions.

• If you have storm windows, make sure they are completely closed.

• Install plastic window film kits on windows that are leaky or that don’t have storms.

• Install covers on window and through-the-wall air conditioners.

• If you have a fireplace, close the damper when you’re not using it.

• Pull your shades or close your drapes at night (but leave them open on east, south and west windows during the day for solar heating).

• Set your thermostat no higher than 68°F when people are home.

• Lower your thermostat to 63°F or less when you are sleeping or when no one is home.

• Replace incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR® qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in fixtures that you use for more than four hours a day.

• Replace halogen torchiere lamps with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent lamps.

• Turn off lights, computers, printers, stereos and TVs when you are not using them.

Send your ecological inquiries to our resident ecologist at

Riverwest Currents online edition – January, 2007