With increasing demands for all forms of energy we, as citizens and consumers, should promote efficient use and conservation of our resources. Opportunities to make a difference by lowering your energy consumption are increasingly available in almost every application. The resources on this page provide ideas for conserving energy as well as ways to make your home more energy efficient.
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Fast and Free Energy Saving Tips
- Turn your thermostat up. During warm weather, set your thermostat as high as possible, given health and comfort considerations. Drink plenty of fluids. Turn thermostats to 78 degrees when at home; 85 degrees when away. Use fans to circulate air which keeps you feeling cooler and reduces your electric consumption.
- Use ceiling fans wisely. Ceiling fans create enough air movement in a room to make it feel cooler by four degrees or more. They use only about as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb. Since you will feel cooler, make sure that you turn up your thermostat to 80 degrees or higher to save on your energy costs.
- Ventilate when it’s cool outside. Cut your cooling costs by opening windows when it’s cooler outside than inside. In the morning, close up the house to trap the coolness inside.
- Close your drapes or shades. Windows are one of the largest sources of heat gain in your home. Although not as effective as exterior shading, keeping your drapes and shades closed during the day helps keep unwanted heat out of your home.
- Turn your thermostat down. Setting your temperature at very high temperatures won’t heat your home any faster, but it will make your furnace run longer. Set your thermostat at a consistent, comfortable temperature. Your fuel bill can climb 3% for each degree you raise or lower your thermostat setting.
- During the heating season, keep drapes and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home. Close them at night to reduce the draft from cold windows.
- Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators frequently. Make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.
- Consider putting on a sweater before you turn up the thermostat.
- Close the doors to any rooms that are not occupied and are isolated from the rest of the house. Adjust the thermostat or turn off the heating/cooling for that room or zone.
- Use a programmable thermostat to automatically change your home temperature while you’re away.
- Eliminate wasted energy. Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Unplug or recycle that spare refrigerator in the garage if you don’t truly need it—this seemingly convenient way to keep extra drinks cold adds 10-25% to your electric bill. Remove the refrigerator door for safety reasons and to prevent mold.
- Plug “leaking energy” in electronics. Many new TVs, VCRs, chargers, computer peripherals and other electronics use electricity even when they are switched “off.” Although these “standby losses” are only a few watts each, they add up to over 50 watts in a typical home that is consumed all the time.
- If possible, unplug electronic devices and chargers that have a block-shaped transformer on the plug when they are not in use. For computer scanners, printers and other devices that are plugged into a power strip, simply switch off the power strip after shutting down your computer.
- Teach your children to turn off lights, televisions, VCRs and computer equipment when they finish using them.
- Use appliances efficiently. Do only full loads when using your dishwasher and clothes washer. Run your appliances during off-peak hours or after the sun goes down. Be sure to clean your clothes dryer’s lint trap after each use. Use the moisture-sensing automatic drying setting on your dryer if you have one. When replacing these appliances, buy Energy Star products. They save up to 30 percent over standard models.
- Set the water heater to the lowest temperature that provides sufficient hot water – about 120 degrees. If you have an older model, wrap it in a water heater blanket.
- Check the outside exhaust of your clothes dryer often. A clogged exhaust lengthens the drying time and increases the amount of energy used.
- If you are going to be away for more than 24 hours, turn your appliances, including air conditioners, heaters, pool and waterbed heaters, fans, lights and other small appliances down or off.
Inexpensive Energy Solutions
- Install a programmable thermostat. – Accidentally leaving the air conditioner on while you are out for the day becomes a thing of the past. Set your programmable thermostat to 85 degrees when you are away during the day, and 78 degrees when you are home. Don’t forget to turn the system off when you leave for the weekend.
- Replace your air conditioning filters once a month. Dirty filters restrict airflow and can cause the coil in your air conditioner to freeze up, significantly increasing energy use. Saving up to 5% of cooling costs.
- Keep air conditioner outside unit clear. Air must be able to circulate freely around your air conditioner’s outside unit. Keep the area around it clear of weeds and debris. Never build or put anything near the unit that would interfere with the air circulation. If air can’t circulate freely around your outside unit, you’ll have higher bills and more service calls.
- Install compact fluorescent lights. Replace incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star® compact fluorescent light bulbs, especially in the 5 light fixtures you use the most. Compact fluorescent lights use 75% less energy than incandescent lights. The savings will add up.
- Install low flow showerheads. You’ll be surprised how much this simple device can cut your hot water costs.
- Wrap your hot water tank with jacket insulation. If your water heater is gas, be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered.
- Plug your home’s leaks. Weather-strip or caulk leaky doors and windows, and cover your outlets.
- Clean or replace furnace filters once a month or as needed. This can improve your systems’ energy efficiency by 10 percent.
- Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans wisely since they can pull out a houseful of warm air in just one hour. Try to keep the humidity level between 30 and 60 percent.
- Check your crawlspace or attic for damaged, disconnected or leaky ducts;repair them with mastic sealant.
- Weatherproofing your home can reduce your annual energy costs by as much as 30 percent. Caulk and weather-strip to reduce air leakage. Pay extra attention around windows and where various exterior materials like wood, brick and vinyl siding meet. Pay particular attention to windows and vents in areas where you feel a breeze or that feel cold.
- Door thresholds need a tight, lasting seal. An interlocking metal seal is best, but vinyl and adjustable sweep thresholds are easier to install.
Good Energy Saving Investments
- Air conditioner tune-up. An improperly charged air conditioner uses significantly more energy than one that is properly charged. Have a licensed heating and air conditioner contractor service your system.
- Shade your home and windows. Shading the outside of your home should be your first line of defense against summertime heat. Careful planting of trees, shrubs, vines and groundcover to shade your home and windows from the sun can really reduce your cooling costs. For immediate results, install patio covers, awnings, and solar screens to shade your windows. Energy savings can be up to 30 percent of cooling costs.
- Install a whole house fan. A whole house fan is permanently installed in your attic and draws cool air into your home through the windows and forces hot air out through your attic vents. These are used after sundown when the outside temperature drops below 80 degrees and in the early morning.
- When buying new appliances, choose Energy Star®-certified models. For example, a new Energy Star®-refrigerator uses about 20% less energy than a standard new refrigerator, and 46% less than one manufactured in 1980. A new Energy Star® clothes washer uses nearly 50% less energy than a standard washer uses.
- Increase ceiling insulation. If your ceiling is uninsulated or marginally insulated, consider increasing your insulation up to R-38 to reduce heating costs by 5-25% depending on current insulation levels.
- Seal ducts. Leaking ductwork accounts for more than 25% of cooling costs in an average home. Consider hiring a contractor to test the tightness of your ducts, and repair leaks and restrictions in your duct.
- Consider replacing your old air conditioner with an Energy Star ® unit. New air conditioning units are available that use 40% less energy to cool your home than older models.
- High efficiency windows. If you are planning to replace your windows, choosing Energy Star® windows can reduce your cooling costs by up to 15%
- When buying a new home, look for passive solar, energy-efficient heating and cooling (such as heat pumps), tightly sealed ducts and energy-saving windows.
- Replace older appliances with units that use less energy. Look for the ENERGY STAR® rating from the federal government.
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