Fall Foliage, Ovando, Montana

Do More With Less

Posted: February 1, 2021
Dan Rogers
MEC Energy Specialist

Helping Members Save Energy AND Money in 2021

By Dan Rogers

Doing more with less. That is the essence of energy efficiency – doing all of the things you currently do, while using less energy to do them. From lighting a room, to heating your home, there are efficiency measures to fit nearly any budget. At MEC, we are passionate about helping our members use energy more efficiently. Whether it’s giving away LED light bulbs, offering free in-home Energy Assessments or paying rebates on qualifying energy efficiency upgrades, we have helped members save millions of kilowatt-hours in electricity over the years.

Incentivizing customers to use less of your product or service, may seem like bad business, but that’s not an accurate assumption in this scenario. The reason we encourage energy efficiency is quite simple – it turns out that it is much cheaper to save a kilowatt, than it is to generate a new one. In other words, the cost of building a new power plant, is far greater than paying rebates to our members for installing more efficient versions of the electricity-consuming devices they already use. The energy that is saved, can then be used to serve new loads on our system.

So, what is the best way to begin making your home more energy efficient? The answer depends on whether you want to start big, or ease into the process. When it comes to your home’s energy profile, the top three contributors are your home’s heating and cooling system, water heater and washer and dryer. Upgrading to the most energy efficient versions of these home appliances, will have the greatest impact on your energy bill. If you prefer to start with a smaller, less costly option, replacing old incandescent light bulbs with new, Energy Star LED light bulbs, is a cost-effective way to begin saving energy and money. In fact, your home’s lighting can use as much energy as your washer and dryer, which makes purchasing and swapping out light bulbs a no-brainer, and a change that will pay for itself in no time.

The primary obstacle when it comes to improving the energy efficiency in one’s home, is the upfront cost associated with purchasing and installing new, energy efficient appliances and devices. Thankfully, there are many changes that can be made with little-to-no cost. First, try a nightly setback on your heating system. If you have a programmable thermostat, program your heat to automatically decrease by five degrees before your typical bedtime. If you have a manual thermostat, make a nightly habit of manually turning the temperature down on your way to bed. This simple adjustment can save you 5-10% on your energy bill each year. Next, check your water heater and make sure it is set to 120 degrees. Often, water heaters are set between 130 – 140 degrees, which wastes energy and risks scalding hot temperatures. By simply turning the temperature down on your water heater, you can save up to 10% on your annual energy bill. Lastly, consider switching the brand of your laundry detergent to one that is cold-water compatible. Your clothes will still be just as clean and bright as before, AND, you will save up to 90% of the energy you would’ve used washing the same load with hot water.

Maybe you’re thinking… “Dan, this sounds great, in theory, but I’m still confused with which energy-saving task to purchase or tackle first.” Not to worry – we’re here to help! Visit our website to review our Energy Efficiency Rebate Program, or give me a call at (406)541-6333.

I can listen to your concerns and offer suggestions, or schedule a free Energy Assessment of your home. Although our in-home assessments are currently on-hold, we can provide a thermal scan and an over-the-phone audit of your home, which will help us analyze data and determine ways to save you money and energy.

And remember, one small change in the right direction, is still progress!