Tips to Reduce Energy Costs: A Conversation With LCSWMA’s Energy Program Manager

We spoke to LCSWMA’s Energy Program Manager, Justin Capots, whose job is managing LCSWMA’s energy initiatives, for some tips on how homeowners and businesses can reduce energy usage and costs, as well as what LCSWMA is doing to mitigate energy usage at our facilities.

Read on for our full conversation with Justin.

Justin Capots, Energy Program Manager

How can homeowners reduce their energy usage?

My first recommendation is always lighting. It is one of the most affordable solutions with a very fast payback and it’s easy to implement.

If you haven’t upgraded your home with energy-efficient LED lightbulbs, that’s a great place to start. In fact, replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs can save you up to 75% on lighting costs!

LEDs last much longer – between 15,000 – 25,000 hours as compared to incandescent bulbs, which last approximately 1,000 hours.

A great resource for homeowners is the EPA’s ENERGY STAR website.

As we move into spring and summer, are there ways to cool your home more efficiently?

Upgrading windows is heavily marketed to consumers as a way to reduce cooling costs, however, while replacing old, leaky windows is beneficial, it’s also expensive.

Given that every house is different, I always recommend that people first have a Home Performance Energy Audit performed on their home. You can find qualified contractors online who will come out and do a full diagnostic test and provide a detailed report with suggestions for improvement.

Often, they will suggest air sealing and insulation work. A more expensive but worthwhile investment is updating your HVAC unit. This can drastically reduce heating and cooling costs.

In addition, many utility companies will provide rebates for performing this work, so check their websites to see if they offer any incentives. If you are purchasing new HVAC equipment, be sure to consider ENERGY STAR certified units, as they will provide the same benefit of heating/cooling but use less energy while running.

For a simpler, though less impactful solution, consider closing your curtains or blinds on windows that face the south or west.

If you don’t have central air or a window unit, be sure to open windows on multiple sides of the house to enable proper ventilation and turn on any fans.

How can businesses reduce their energy costs?

Once again, start with lighting.

In addition to being affordable, certified contractors that perform the work may be able to offer incentives from your utility company to help cover the costs. Contractors can also install features that turn the lights off when no one is around via motion sensors or timers, saving even more money.

Another idea is to get staff involved and encourage them to turn off lights when leaving the office, as well as setting the thermostat to a reasonable temperature. Simple behavior changes can result in impressive energy savings.

If your company is looking to do more, consider a Commercial Energy Audit.

What measures has LCSWMA implemented to reduce energy usage?

All of the above!

We have installed LEDs in our buildings, as well as light sensors. Also, we’ve created a “culture of conservation,” so employees are aware of their impact and make sustainable choices (for example, turning off lights when they leave).

A major project LCSWMA undertook in 2013/2014 was the installation of a 550-kW solar panel system at our Harrisburg Pike location in Lancaster. The system produces enough power to meet and even exceed the electrical consumption of the site during certain months of the year, which helps greatly reduce our electricity costs.