Making improvements to your home’s lighting is one of the simplest & lease expensive ways to reduce your energy costs. Lighting accounts for about 15% of your home’s electric use. New technologies can reduce the amount of energy used for lighting in your home by 50%-75%. Use compact flourescent bulbs (CFLs) in all table, floor lamps & light fixtures in your home. CFLs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs & last 6-10 times longer, while providing the same amount of light. Although CFLs cost a bit more, they pay for themselves by saving energy over their lifetime. Today, CFLs are available in a variety of shapes & styles, including spirals, mini-spirals, A-lamps, globes, 3-way, dimmable reflectors & flood lamps.
1. Always look for the Energy-Star label when purchasing lighting products.
2. Consider installing timers of occupancy sensors to turn off the lights when you leave a room.
3. Three-way lamps make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not needed. Dimmers can vary the level of illumination according to how much light you may need. Make sure you purchase CFLs specifically made for either technology.
4. Use flourescent fixtures with reflective backing & electronic ballasts for your workroom, garage, & laundry areas because they are not just more efficient but provide better illumination.
5. Consider using motion detectors outdoors to save energy while providing a high degree of security.
6. Use light emitting diodes (LED) holiday lights to decorate your home. LED holiday lighting comes in a variety of festive styles & colors, uses up to 96% less energy, & operates at a cooler temperature than standard holiday lights.
Home Electronics Tips:
Many products continue to use energy even when they are turned off, which ensures they come on instantly when you turn on the switch.
7. Many electric items in your home continue to draw power when they are switched off & still plugged in. This is referred to as “phantom load” or “stand-by power”. These phantom loads occur in VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, & kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Avoid phantom load by simply unplugging the item when not in use.
8. To find phantom loads turn off all lights at night & look for any LEDs or other “glows” in the house. Keep in mind that any device that requires resetting after a blackout or power surge generates a phantom load.
Refrigerators & Freezers:
Like other appliances that heat & cool, refrigerators & freezers are big energy users & have to be “on” all the time.
9. A new refrigerator with an Energy-Star label is at least 20% more efficient than new conventional models & 40% more efficient than an older conventional model sold in 2001.
10. Make sure the seals on your refrigerator & freezer fit tightly. A door seal leak allows cool air to escape, forcing your refrigerator to use more energy to keep food cold. Test the seal by closing the door over a piece of paper that is half in & half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper out easily, the latch may need to be adjusted or the seal replaced.
11. Vacuum & clean condenser coils on your refrigerator twice a year. Make sure to leave space between the refrigerator & surrounding walls to allow air to circulate.
12. Be sure to place your refrigerator away from appliances that generate heat, such as ovens & dishwashers. Otherwise the refrigerator will have to work much harder to cool & its efficiency will decrease.
13. Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Check temperature settings by placing a thermometer in the appliance for 1 hour. Refrigerator temperature should be 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit & freezer temperature should be 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Simply hanging a clothes line in your yard & using it to dry your clothes in the summer months will save the energy you would use to run a dryer. It may be inconvenient at first, but the dollar savings will be worth it.
14. In addition to buying Energy-Star qualified clothes washers, be even more efficient by checking the Modified Energy Factor (MEF). The higher the MEF the more efficient the clothes washer.
15. 90% of the energy your washer uses goes towards heating the water. Save by using hot water only for very soiled laundry, especially since today’s detergents are formulated to work just as well in cold water.
16. Front load washers are far more gentle & effective on your clothes, as well as much more energy efficient when compared to traditional top-loading clothes washers.
17. If you are in the market fo a new clothes dryer, consider purchasing one with a “moisture sensing” device that shuts off automatically when your clothes are dry.
18. Clean your dryer’s lint filter after every load to improve air circulation & efficiency. Lint build up blocks air flow & lengthens drying time.
19. For greater efficiency, always run the washer & dryer when you have a full load of laundry.
Washing dishes by hand may not save energy or money. In fact, you can probably save energy using the dishwasher when full since hand washing usually requires more hot water.
20. Energy-Star qualified dishwashers are 41% more efficient than conventional dishwashers, using less energy & less water than conventional models. Based on the average of four cycles per week, electric hot water customers can save up to $230 in electric costs over the life of their dishwasher with an Energy-Star product.
21. When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for models that require less hot water. Dishwashers differ in the number of gallons of hot water used in the wash cycle. Using a new Energy-Star qualified dishwasher instead of hand washing dishes can save nearly 5,000 gallons of water per year. The manufacturer’s specifications or the Energy Guide label should list this information.
22. Take advantage of the energy saving control on many dishwashers. It turns off the heat during the drying cycle. Opening the dishwasher after the rinse cycle & letting the dishes air dry is an easy way to save energy.
There are many steps you can take to conserve energy while cooking, such as using the correct oven temperature & using smaller cooking appliances such as microwave ovens to prepare food.
23. A microwave oven is an energy-efficient alternative to a conventional oven. It cooks food more quickly & it uses 70%-80% less electricity.
24. Use pots & pans that are properly sized to “fit” your stove top burners. Using a small pan on a large burner wastes energy & can be a safety hazard. Cookware with flat bottoms & tight covers is your best choice.
25. Avoid “peeking” by opening the oven door. Each “peek” lowers the oven temperature.
26. When preparing a meal in your oven, choose foods that are cooked at about the same temperature. That way your oven can cook several dishes at the same time.
Energy-Star qualified office & imaging products use 60% less electricity than conventional electronic products.
27. Plug your battery charging devices or power adapters into a power strip that you can easily shut off with the toggle switch.
28. Turn off electonics such as personal computers, monitors, copiers, printers & fax machines when they are not in use.
29. Consider a multifunction device which combines a number of operations into 1 device, such as a printer/fax/copier combo.
30. Ink jet printers can be as much as 90% more efficient than a laser printer.
31. Avoid leaving charging units for appliances and battery operated devices plugged in when they are not being used.
32. Consider a laptop over a traditional desktop computer. They are not just more convenient but use less electricity. Energy-Star computers & monitors save energy only when the power management features are activated. Read the owner’s manual for more information.
33. Energy-Star qualified cordless phones use about 1/3 the energy of a standard cordless phone.
34. Always be sure to turn the TV off when no one is watching. Consider plugging your DVD & other video components into an advanced “smart” power strip so that when the TV is turned off, the other components will turn off too.
35. When shopping for a high definition TV (HDTV), a liquid crystal display (LCD) model can cut your TV power usage by approximately 50% compared to a plasma screen model.
Cooling your home uses more energy (& energy dollars) than any other “comfort system” in your home. You can save money & increase your comfort by properly maintaining & upgrading your equipment.
36. It is important that the size of your central air-conditioning system is correct for the amount of square footage that needs to be cooled. Properly-sized units also help keep the humidity down, making for a more comfortable as well as an efficiently cooled room.
37. The location of your room air conditioner has a lot to do with how efficient it will be. Try to locate your units on the north, east or the best shaded side of your home. A unit exposed to direct sunlight has to work much harder & use more energy to cool your home.
38. If you have central air conditioning, regular maintenance is essential. Keep the condenser unit’s coils & fins clean. Remove grass, leaves, & other debris that may collect on them. Keep shrubbery away from your air conditioner because it can block vents & reduce the unit’s ability to exhaust air.
39. Regular maintenance will insure that your room air conditioner operates efficiently throughout the summer. Check the filter once a month by holding it up to a bright light. If you cannot see through it, it’s time to clean or replace the filter. Also check your owner’s guide to find out how to safely clean the condenser coils & fins on the outside of the unit.
40. Seal spaces around the air conditioner with caulking to prevent cool air from escaping & hot air from entering.
41. Fans can make your air conditioner’s job easier. Pedestal & ceiling fans improve the air circulation in your home, allowing you to raise the air conditioner’s thermostat.
42. When it is not too hot, consider using portable or ceiling fans instead of air conditioners.
43. Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house & exhausting warm air through the attic. They are most effective when operated at night & when the outside air is cooler than the inside.
44. To stay most comfortable during the hottest hours of the day, do your cooking, ironing, laundry & bathing in the early morning or late evenings. These activities all increase the level of humidity in your home, making it less comfortable. By using heat-generating appliances in the early morning or late evening, when the outside temperature is still not so high, your home will stay cooler.
45. Turn off kitchen, bath, & other exhaust fans as soon as they are no longer needed after cooking or bathing. This type of fan removes cooled air from your home.
46. Of course, always look for Energy-Star appliances. In addition, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) on air conditioning for optimum efficiency & lower cooling bills.
47. Storm windows keep cool air in & hot air out. Weather-stripping & caulking windows & doors will also keep cool air from leaking out & hot air from entering.
48. On hot summer days the temperature in your attic can reach 150 degrees. Improving the ventilation in your attic will lower the temperature of the entire house & make your air conditioner’s job much easier.
49. Depending on the size of your home, you can save 3% on your cooling costs for every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer. Raising the thermostat from 73 to 78 degrees can equal savings of up to 15% in cooling costs.
50. Don’t set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you first turn on your air conditioner. This will not cool your home any faster & could result in excessive cooling & an additional expense, as the unit will need to work harder.
Electric hot water heaters are the 2nd largest energy user in the home. Even if your water heater is oil or gas fired, electricity is needed to run the circulator motor, which brings the hot water to your sink or shower. Using hot water efficiently can add up to big savings.
51. If you have an automatic dishwasher, the hot water heater settings can be lowered to 120-140 degrees & the dishwasher will run effectively.
52. Repair leaky faucets promptly. A leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time. A small drip can be the equivalent of wasting a bathtub full of hot water each month.
53. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. To save energy, take short showers instead of baths. Any hot water you can save not only reduces your energy bill for heating the water, but reduces your water bill as well.
54. Lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees (or “warm”). You may save even more energy by wrapping an older water heater in a special insulation blanket. A quick check: if your water heater is warm to the touch, additional insulation may be needed.
Many customers have electric baseboard heating & will benefit directly from the following tips. But keep in mind that all heating systems need electricity to run, whether it is a fan for forced hot air systems or a circulater for hot water units. An energy efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using a “whole-house approach”. By combining proper equipment maintenance with appropriate insulation, weather stripping, & thermostat settings, you can cut your energy use for heating & reduce environmental emissions.
55. Check the filters in your forced hot air heating system monthly & replace or clean them when they become dirty.
56. Have your heating system checked periodically by a properly trained licensed professional.
57. Properly insulating walls, ceilings, floors, hot air ducts & hot water pipes significantly reduces the loss of heat.
58. At the same temperature, dry air makes you feel colder than moist air. Maintaining home humidity will produce personal comfort at a lower thermostat setting.
59. Installing a new furnace? Make sure you choose one with a variable speed or electronically commutated motor. This type of motor lowers operating costs ($40-$300 annually, based on usage), improves air quality, moderates temperature fluctuation & offers a system that runs with significantly less noise.
60. Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat to automatically raise & lower the temperature in your home according to your lifestyle. Homeowners can save up to 18% on their yearly heating & cooling costs by properly setting & maintaining their programmable thermostats. Keep your heating thermostat at the lowest temperature comfortable for you.
61. Storm windows & doors are big energy & money savers. They can reduce heating costs by as much as 15% by preventing warm air from escaping. Double-glazed & thermopane windows or even clear plastic across windows can minimize heat escape.
62. Caulking & weather stripping cracks in walls & floors, windows & doors will save fuel, electric costs, & money.
63. Keep the fireplace damper closed tightly when not in use.
64. Avoid portable electric heaters as they are extremely costly to operate.
65. Let the sunlight in! Open curtains, blinds & shades over windows facing the sun to help keep your home warm & reduce heating needs.
66. Clean warm air registers, baseboard heaters, & radiators as needed. Make sure they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.