Saving energy now will pay off later

An Energy Watch test last week asked Southcentral Alaska residents to take measures to conserve energy. Results were modest — about a 1.5 percent savings across the region during the test, which took place from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 30.

With questions persisting about the region’s supply of natural gas in the next couple years, it is becoming more and more important for residents to learn and put into practice more techniques for conserving energy.

Should short-term gas deliverability issues come up, residents will be notified and asked to take such measures as turning down the thermostat and water heater, and limiting or postponing use of appliances powered by natural gas, including gas ranges. Other measures include postponing things like doing the laundry and dishes, and limiting household activities to as few rooms as possible.

But some long-term conservation measures are in order, too. Little things, like new weatherstripping around doors, or better insulation in the attic, can make a world of difference when it comes to keeping our homes cozy and warm in the winter. More tips can be found on Homer Electric Association’s website, homerelectric.com, and on ENSTAR Natural Gas Company’s site, enstarnaturalgas.com.

Let’s face it, many of our homes were built at a time when natural gas was cheap and plentiful, and blasting the heat when the mercury dropped wasn’t much of a concern.

But the times have changed. While new exploration is under way in Cook Inlet, the region’s utilities are still looking at a lag time before new gas is available or a pipeline from the North Slope becomes reality. That means other options are being considered, including the purchase of liquified or compressed natural gas, to fill the gap.

Conserving energy now might just put off the day when we have to pay for LNG a little longer. And finding ways to use less natural gas will certainly help with the utility bills — now and in the years to come.

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