Low Cost/No Cost Energy Saving Tips
Heating in the Winter
• Set thermostats no higher than 72ºF when people are home. You save about 1% to 3% on your heating bill for every 1º that you lower the thermostat setting. For example, if you keep your thermostat set at 75ºF all the time, and you lower it by 3º to 72ºF, you will save about 3% to 9% (on your heating bill), or about 9 cents for every dollar you spend on heating costs. The longer the temperature adjustment period, the more you save.
• Lower the thermostat when you sleep. Lowering the thermostat from 72ºF to 65ºF or lower at night will save another approximately 7 cents for every heating dollar you spend. Some people turn their thermostats down to 60º at night or when sleeping to save even more energy.
• To ensure the heat gets to where it is suppose to, use mastic or foil-faced tape to seal the seams and any cracks in air handling ducts. This helps stop leaks and conditioned air from escaping.
• Have the heating system serviced each year to ensure efficient operation.
• Clean or replace furnace filters. Dirty filters reduce the heating ability of the furnace or heating system and waste valuable fuel. Clean or replace the filter(s) as directed by the manufacturer.
• Do not place furniture and curtains over or around registers or in front of cold air return, as it will block the airflow.
• Put on a sweater or warmer clothing for comfort and lower the thermostat even more. Layer clothing. Closed or tighter cuffs and collars help to retain body heat.
• Never use the stove for additional heat—it is dangerous. Besides causing a fire hazard, fumes given off by combustion can result in increased carbon monoxide levels.
• On sunny days, open blinds, shades, and curtains, especially if your windows face south. At night, close the blinds, shades, and curtains to help keep heat in your home.
• During the day, keep window shades or blinds down and closed. In the evening and early morning, open windows if it is cooler and less humid outdoors.
• Turn the air conditioning control to higher temperatures if no one is home for a period of about 8 hours or more.
• Use overhead fans and turn up the air conditioner. Ceiling fans used with air conditioning will allow you to raise the thermostat by as much as 4ºF and still feel comfortable. On milder days, turn off the air conditioner and use the fans.
• Plant trees (those that shed their leaves) around the exterior of your home to shade windows in the summer. Use trees or awnings to shade the east and west windows of your home. Trees help keep your home cooler and the surrounding exterior surfaces cooler.
• Window air conditioners have an energy efficiency rating—EER for short. Buy an air conditioner with an EER of at least a 12 or higher. Although window air conditioners with EERs higher than 12 usually cost a little more, you will recapture this cost by using less electricity over time. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label and the yellow EnergyGuide label for information on energy use for comparisons.
• When purchasing central air conditioners, purchase a unit with a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) of 14.0 or higher. Buy the most efficient air conditioning system you can afford.
• Buy the correct size window or central air conditioner for the square footage of your home. If the air conditioner is too large, it won’t operate efficiently, and it will use more energy.
• Remove and clean the filter every month or as directed.
• If possible, put the window air conditioner units in a window that faces north or is shaded.
• Have the cooling system serviced each year to ensure efficient operation.
Windows and Doors
• Close and lock all windows and doors. Close exterior sliding storm windows. Locking doors and windows creates at tighter seal and reduces air leaks.
• Stop air leaks under doors. Use draft stopper or towels to block air coming in under doors from the outdoors. For a more permanent solution, buy a quality door sweep to attach to the bottom of the door. Repair or replace threshold gaskets. If the door leaks around the entire door opening, install weatherstripping between the door and the frame.
• Weatherstrip the moving parts of the door and windows. Choose a more durable product to avoid early replacement. Products are made for the channels or window glides, for the window bottom, and for use where double hung windows meet.
• Use a paintable caulk to caulk around the window frame where the interior window frame meets the wall. Use an appropriate caulk for the materials on the exterior when the window frame meets the house siding (exterior wall). This prevents air leaks and air currents into the wall itself.
• Use blinds, shades, and lined curtains or draperies to reduce heat loss in the winter and block heat gain during the summer. If your curtains or draperies aren’t lined, use a sheet or purchase tightly woven heavier fabric. Create a casing on the top end and attach to a second rod behind the window treatment.
• Install awnings, window shades, or window films to block the summer sunlight.
• If you have a water heater set at 140º F, turn the temperature down to 120º F (medium setting on a gas heater dial), and you’ll cut your water heating costs by 6 to 10 percent. For exceptionally soiled clothing, diapers, or when someone is ill, you may want to turn it back up when laundering their items. Some water heaters use a timer control to manage the water temperature – much like automatic thermostats manage the heating or cooling temperature for your home.
• Turn the water heater down further if you are away for an extended time.
• Insulate the hot and cold water pipes at the water heater for at least 6 to 10 feet. Insulate all exposed water pipes for even more efficiency to prevent heat loss and heat gain.
• Front loading washers are usually more energy efficient than top loaders. Look for the ENERGY STAR® and/or Water Wise logos when purchasing new.
• Install low-flow faucets and shower heads, and take shorter showers.
• Fix faucet leaks. One drip can waste up to 48 gallons of water a week and waste energy from hot water.
Range and Oven
• Use the microwave when possible. The microwave uses less energy, and does not need to be preheated.
• Use the kitchen exhaust fan when cooking to reduce moisture problems and pollutants.
• Use lids on pans and pans that fit a burner reduce heat lost.
• Refrigerators cost about $5 to $8 or more per month to operate, and consume 3 to 5 percent of your total home energy use. Keep the refrigerator at 36º to 38º F and the freezer at 0º F.
• Check the gasket (soft, plastic piece that seals the door to the body of the refrigerator) for gaps and improper fit. The door should close firmly against the gasket. Check the tightness of the door by placing a dollar bill between the gasket and the door. You should feel a slight drag when you pull it out.
• Do not place an oven or heating appliance close to a refrigerator, as the refrigerator will have to work harder to keep items cool. Do not put refrigerators in unconditioned rooms such as garages or porches. Turn off, clean, and unplug seldom used refrigerators.
• Try to keep the door open no longer than necessary. Vacuum coils and keep drain trays clean.
• Run the dishwasher only when it’s full.
• Many dishwashers have energy-saving settings, such as a setting for partial loads (which use less hot water) or energy efficient drying cycles.
Washer and Dryer
• Use hot water only for very dirty clothes and diapers, and if there is an illness in the family or someone has a suppressed immune system. Refer to the washing instructions on the clothing labels and on the washing machine. Wash in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.•
Full loads of laundry in the washer save both energy and water. Adjust water levels for smaller loads.
• Clean the lint from the dryer’s filter after every load.
• Operate the dryer like the washer: don’t overload it. Overloading uses excess energy, because the items take longer to dry. Hang items to dry outside if possible.
• Use screw-in compact fluorescent lamps/lightbulbs (CFLs) suited to the location and fixture. Carefully read the labels to choose the right bulb for the use.
• Turn off lights when rooms are not occupied. Use natural light as much as possible.
• Use one higher wattage bulb instead of several lower watt bulbs when possible. A 100-watt bulb gives off about 20% more light than two 60-watt bulbs. Do not use a higher wattage in a light fixture than is recommended.
• Dust light bulbs. Dusty bulbs can emit 20% less light.
• Use fluorescent fixtures and bulbs. They use about ¼ of the energy of an incandescent bulb for the same amount of light. They now are available in various shapes and for several types of fixtures, interior and exterior locations, for motion sensors and dimmable lights. The fluorescent bulbs need to be vented to avoid heat build up. Avoid putting them in closed fixtures.
Small Appliances and Electronics
• Disconnect unnecessary or unused equipment.
• Completely power down or shut off electronics such as your computer, TV, and printer when not in use.
• Use a power strip to completely shut off the power supply to electronic equipment. Ready-on features, clocks, and other devices continue to use power even in the off position.
• Unplug chargers when power tools, phones, computers, and other items are fully charged, as chargers will continue to use electricity when plugged in.