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Friday, October 31, 2008

Should I Turn My Heat Off or Lower the Thermostat?

“To conserve energy and save money, should I turn my heat off or just lower the thermostat when I leave for work?” Like everyone today, the Newton Falls Public Library staff can understand the economic need of conserving energy.

The appropriately named book, This Cold House: the simple science of energy efficiency by Colin Smith was the first place we looked. Smith suggests setting your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature in the winter. “Heating costs are reduced by about 2% for every 1% F reduction in settings [p. 189].” Information about different heating systems, insulation, and basic equations to assist homeowners in determining possible savings are included. The use of ceiling fans to blow and circulate warmer air can make people feel more comfortable.

The library has two new books about home energy savings, Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings by Jennifer Thorne Amann, Alex Wilson and Katie Ackerly and Save Energy Save Money: 201 do-it-yourself projects, tips, and ideas by Family Handyman. The Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings includes practical information about ways to reduce costs and offers additional ideas at their website The site has numerous calculators for things such as determining the most economical insulation level for your home and how much money a programmable thermostat will save. The Family Handyman book addresses the misconception that lowering the thermostat requires more energy to reheat the house; when in fact the fuel saved by the dropping temperature is about equal to the amount used restoring it, so the time spent at the lower temperature is reducing your energy use. “Studies show you can cut cost by as much as 20 percent by lowering your thermostat 5 degrees F at night and 10 degrees during the day when no one is home [p.66].”

You can also conserve your energy and save money by visiting the library. With one stop, you can borrow books, audiobooks, movies, CDs, CD-Roms for your computer, magazines, newspapers, and access the Internet from the Wi-Fi computers. There are programs such as story times, craft programs, movie events, and book discussions. Travel back in time when you visit the Local History Room. Visiting the library is a great opportunity to share and learn more about your family, where they came from, and where they have lived. While a little dated, Oral History for the Local Historical Society by Willa K. Baum has excellent ideas on how to create an oral history, learning from older family members about their lives. Discovering the History of Your House and Your Neighborhood by Betsy J. Green is another interesting resource. In conjunction with Ms. Green’s book, the Haines directories and Sanborne Fire Insurance Maps (found in Ohio Web Library’s Genealogy section) will assist you in researching where your family has lived. If your family moved to Newton Falls during the growth of the steel mills, you might find it interesting to view the tools belonging to contractor Nicholas Risko. Mr. Risko built many of the homes for families who came during this era. A relative of the Longenberger family, Grandma Caroline Gamber [1836-1928], would be blushing to know that there is a display of her clothing, including undergarments, in the library’s Local History Room.

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