General Energy Saving Tips
- Test your home for air leaks. You can save 10 percent or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home. On a windy day, hold a lit candle next to windows, doors, electrical outlets, and light fixtures. If the smoke travels horizontally, you have found an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weather stripping. Also, tape clear plastic sheeting to the inside of your window frames if drafts, water condensation, or frost are present.
- Properly maintain your heating system. Heating can account for almost half of the average family’s winter energy bill. Make sure your furnace or heat pump receives professional maintenance each year. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating by as much as 30 to 40 percent.
- Close fireplace dampers when not in use. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes, too – 24 hours a day!
- Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely. In just one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.
- Open curtains on your south facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Turn off everything not in use – lights, TVs, VCRs, CD and DVD players, computers.
Energy Efficiency Home Improvements
- Check the insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawlspaces to see if it meets the levels recommended for your geographical area. Remember, about one-third of air infiltrates your home through openings in your ceilings, walls, and floors. If your home is not adequately insulated, have additional insulation professionally installed. For more information, visit www.simplyinsulate.com.
- Install a programmable thermostat. The energy savings will offset the cost of a basic unit in less than a year. Programming your thermostat from 72 degrees to 65 degrees for eight hours a day while no one is home, or while everyone is tucked in bed, will cut your heating bill up to 10 percent.
- Insulate your hot water heater and hot water pipes to save energy and money.
- Insulate heating ducts and keep them in good repair to prevent heat loss. Your system can lose up to 60 percent of its warmed air before it reaches the register, if ducts are not properly insulated in unheated areas such as attics and crawlspaces.
- Cut your energy bills by up to 30 percent with Energy Star-labeled products. Look for the Energy Star label, the government’s symbol for energy efficiency, when replacing your heating and cooling systems – as well as appliances, lighting, windows, office equipment, and home electronics. Find retailers near you at www.energystar.gov.
- Install timers on lights inside your home to avoid coming home to a dark house on winter evenings. Motion detectors on exterior floodlights improve your home security while reducing energy costs.
- Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in place of comparable incandescent bulbs to save about 50 percent on your lighting costs. CFLs use only one-fourth the energy and last up to 10 times longer.
- Install storm windows over single-pane windows or replace them with double-pane windows with low-emissivity (low-e) coating. Low-e coating on the glass reflects heat back into the room during the winter months, reducing heat loss by 25 to 50 percent. Look for the Energy Star label to save even more. In cold climates, low-e windows can reduce your heating bills by 34 percent, compared to uncoated, single-pane windows. For more information, visit www.efficientwindows.org.
- A few carefully positioned trees around the house can cut as much as 25 percent off your household’s yearly energy consumption for heating and cooling. Just three strategically placed trees can save an average household between $100 and $250 in energy costs annually.
No-cost Ways To Save Energy & Money
- Wash in cold instead of hot water, switching to washing in cold water can save up to $63 a year.
- Turn off everything not in use: lights, TVs, computers, other electronics.
- About 16% of an average home energy bill goes just for heating water. Use cold water when washing clothes.
- Take a five-minute shower instead of a bath to reduce hot water use.
- Do only full loads when you use the clothes washer or dishwasher to avoid wasting hot water.
- Check the temperature on your water heater. It should be set at “warm,” or a thermometer held under running water should read no more than 120 degrees. If it’s higher, lower the temperature on your water heater thermostat.
- Check the furnace or air conditioner (AC) filter each month, and clean or replace it as needed. Dirty filters block air flow through your heating and cooling equipment, increasing your energy bill and shortening the equipment’s life.
- During hot months, keep window coverings closed on the south, east, and west windows. In winter, let the sun in.
- Close the fireplace damper when not in use.
- Activate "sleep" features on computers and office equipment that power down when the equipment is not in use for a while. Turn off equipment during longer periods of non-use to cut energy costs and improve longevity.
- When cooking, keep the lids on pots. Better yet, use a microwave oven instead of a conventional range or oven.
- Dress appropriately for the weather, and set your thermostat to the lowest possible comfortable setting. On winter nights, put an extra blanket on the bed and turn back your thermostat even more.
- In summer, use fans whenever possible instead of AC, and ventilate at night this way when practical. Using fans to supplement AC allows you to raise the thermostat temperature, using less energy. Fans cost less to use than AC.
Low-cost Ways To Save Energy & Money
- Install low-flow showerheads and sink aerators to reduce hot water use.
- Seal up your windows and doors with caulking and weather stripping to ensure that you're not wasting energy on heat or air conditioning that escapes through leaks to the outdoors.
- A water tank insulation wrap costs about $20 and helps hold the heat inside. Add pre-cut pipe insulation to exposed pipes going into your water heater – it is cheap and easy to install. If you’re starting with an un-insulated tank, the energy savings should pay for the improvements in just a few months.
- Duct tape works well on lots of things, but it often fails when used on ductwork! Use mastic (a gooey substance applied with a paintbrush) to seal all exposed ductwork joints in areas such as the attic, crawlspace, or basement. Insulate ducts to improve your heating system’s efficiency and your own comfort.
- In the winter, storm windows can reduce your heat loss by 25% - 50%. As an alternative, you can improve your windows temporarily with plastic sheeting installed on the inside.
- Incandescent light bulbs are outdated; 95% of the energy used to light these old-fashioned light bulbs is wasted as heat, adding unwanted heat to your home in the summer. Replace your five most used light bulbs with ENERGY STAR® compact fluorescent bulbs to save $60 each year. These light bulbs use 2/3 less energy than traditional lighting products and last six to 10 times longer. Use dimmers, timers, and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting.
- Consider safer, more efficient ENERGY STAR torchiere lamps rather than halogen torchieres, which can cause fires. Halogen bulbs may be inexpensive to purchase, but they are expensive to use.