HOME ENERGY SAVINGS GUIDE
Flip the switch. Lower the blinds. Insulate your attic. Lower the temperature on your thermostat. These sound like simple tasks. take all of these steps around your home and you can rack up big savings.
Here are ten tips that any good energy saver should not live without.
1. Replace any light bulb, especially ones that burn more than one hour per day, with a light emitting
diode (LED) bulb.
2. Seal from the inside. Air sealing is an inexpensive way to lower energy costs and improve comfort. Seal gaps and holes in walls, floors, and ceilings with caulk or foam sealant. Look for cracks around windows and where wires and pipes pass through.
3. Plug electronic devices such as cable boxes, printers and TVs into power strips to turn off during vacations or long periods without use. Smart power strips make it an easy task to save money.
4. Close shades and drapes during the day to help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
5. Change your central HVAC system filter when dirty by the manufacturers recommendations. Dirty filters can impact your home comfort and increase your electricity bill.
6. A one degree increase in heating setpoint or reduction in cooling setpoint can increase energy use by 3 – 5%.
7. Have your duct work checked for leaks. Leaks at the return, air handler and supply can be a major source of high bills. Mobile homes check at the grill, cross over duct and down flow air handler, for leaks.
8. Set both the upper and lower water heater thermostats no higher than 120 F.
9. An electric space heater can cost more than $100 per month to operate. Minimize their use, except for limited or temporary spot heating. Turn space heaters off when leaving the room.
10. Ensure refrigerator door seals are tight. Eliminate unnecessary refrigerators.
When using your fireplace, turn down your thermostat. When you're not using it, close the damper to prevent warm air from escaping through the chimney.
Rethink your fireplace. Although a crackling fire in the fireplace can make a room appear to be warm and cozy, fireplaces are often a deterrent to energy efficiency because a lot of the heated air escapes up the chimney. A fireplace designed for providing heat eliminates this problem through a draft that supplies the fire with outside air rather than air from the room.
Open your drapes or blinds to take advantage of the sun’s rays during the day to help heat your home. Close them on the shaded side of the house and at night.
During the winter, keep the thermostat set at 68 degrees or lower when you are home, health permitting. Each degree below 68 represents approximately 3-5% savings on heating costs. Lowering the temperature by setting an additional 3-5 degrees while you are away can help save even more.
Caulk gaps and cracks around drafty doorframes and windows to prevent cold air from entering your home.
Wrap older water heaters with an insulating jacket or blanket to minimize excess heat loss. Remember to leave the air intake and exhaust vents uncovered on gas models.
Minimize the use of electric space heaters and turn them off when you leave the room. Buy models that are thermostatically controlled.
Turn off lights in rooms that aren’t in use.
While sleeping, turn down the thermostat and add an extra blanket for warmth.
The ceiling fan direction in winter should be clockwise to create an updraft and circulate warm air around the room.
Keep your garage door down. A warmer garage in the winter will save energy.
Cool down with a fan. Fans keep air circulating, allowing you to raise the thermostat a few degrees and stay just as comfortable while reducing your air-conditioning costs.
The ceiling fan direction in summer should be counterclockwise to help create a downdraft, which creates that direct, cooling breeze.
Turn off fans when leaving the room. Fans cool people, not rooms.
Close your shades in the summer. Sunlight passing through windows heats your home and makes your air conditioner work harder.
Dark colors absorb heat. You can repel excess heat by using light-colored blinds, shades, and draperies on the sunny sides of the house. Make sure the draperies are insulated or lined.
Avoid using your oven on hot days. Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.
During the summer, keep thermostats set at 78 degrees or higher when home when you are home, health permitting. Raising the temperature setting an additional 3-5 degrees while you are away can help save even more.
Wait until cooler times of the day to do tasks that make your house warmer, like laundry and cooking.
Ensure that the fresh air vent on your window air-conditioner is closed to avoid spending extra money on cooling outside air.
Hang laundry outside. Take advantage of warm summer days to bypass your dryer and let your clothes air-dry.
Turn off lights in rooms that aren’t in use.
Use natural lighting early in the day and late in the afternoon to reduce your energy usage.
Turn off kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans 15 minutes after the job is complete or install 15-minute timers on bathroom ventilator fans.
Caulk gaps and cracks around drafty doorframes and windows to prevent cold air from escaping your home.
Keep your garage door down. A cooler garage in the summer will help save energy.
Other plug loads around the home can add up to be 8-10% of monthly energy use.
- Turn computers and monitors off when not in use.
- When buying a new computer, consider buying a laptop. It uses less energy than a comparable desktop.
- Turn large-screen TVs off completely when not in use.
- Check for energy-saving settings on flat-panel TVs like auto brightness control and a power-saving sleep mode.
- Request an ENERGY STAR® set-top box from cable or satellite provider.
- Turn off stereos and radios when not in use.
- Enable auto power-down feature on gaming consoles.
- If you don’t unplug them, use energy-saving modes or automatic sleep function on electronics.
- Remember to turn off hair curling irons and hot rollers.
- Make sure electric blankets are turned off in the morning.
- Ensure all new appliances, electronics and lights are ENERGY STAR® labeled.
- Turn off pool pumps and heaters when not needed.
- Verify livestock water tank heaters are off when not needed.
- Make sure heat tape is off when not needed.
- Unplug battery chargers when not needed.
Traditional lighting can amount up to 12% of your monthly energy use. Energy saving light bulbs can slice lighting costs by 75%.
- Replace outdoor lighting with its equivalent outdoor-rated LED bulb. LED’s work well in cold weather.
- Use fixtures with electronic ballasts and T-8, 32-watt fluorescent lamps.
- Use outdoor security lights with a photocell and/or a motion sensor.
- Turn off unnecessary lighting.
A lumen is a unit used for the measurement of visible light. A traditional 60-Watt light bulb produces 800 lumens.
The kitchen can amount to 15-20% of your monthly energy use, which includes appliance use and refrigeration.
- Turn off coffee makers when not in use.
- Use your refrigerator’s anti-sweat feature only if necessary.
- Switch your refrigerator’s power-saver to “ON,” if available.
- Clean refrigerator coils annually.
- Regularly defrost refrigerator or freezer to avoid ice buildup.
- Set the refrigerator temperature to 34 - 37 degrees F and freezer temperature to 0 - 5 degrees F.
- Unplug unused refrigerators or freezers. Recycle them if you do not need them.
- Use microwave for cooking when possible.
- When cooking on the oven range, use pot lids to help-food cook faster.
- If you are heating water on the stove, use hot tap water instead of cold.
- Remember to use the kitchen exhaust fan when cooking. Turn it off after cooking.
- Use a slow-cooker instead of simmering foods on the stove.
- If rinsing dirty dishes before putting them into the dishwasher, do so with cold water.
- Use cold water for garbage disposal. Only run dishwasher when fully loaded.
- Make sure refrigerator and freezer seals fit tightly when doors close.
- Keep outside coils clean. Dirty coils make your refrigerator compressor work longer to remove heat.
- Setting your freezer below 0° uses extra energy.
- Setting your refrigerator below 37° uses extra energy.
- Ensure refrigerator door seals are tight and coils are clean.
- Replace seals if they no longer seal.
- Eliminate unnecessary refrigerators.
Water Heating can amount to 12% of your monthly energy use.
- For households with 1 or 2 members, a 115 degree setting may work fine.
- Install water heater wrap, also known as water heater blanket, per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Drain 1-2 gallons from bottom of water heater each year to reduce sediment build up.
- Install heat traps on hot and cold water lines when it’s time to replace your water heater.
- Insulate exposed hot water lines.
- Limit shower length to 5-7 minutes.
- Install water saving shower heads.
- Fix dripping faucets.
- Don’t let water run while you are shaving or brushing your teeth.
Laundry can amount to 5-9% of your monthly energy use.
- Wash clothes in cold water. Use hot water only for very dirty loads.
- Only do full laundry loads.
- If you must do smaller loads, adjust the water level in the washing machine to match the load size, especially when using hot water.
- Always use cold-water rinse.
- Use bath towels at least twice before washing them.
- Clean your dryer’s lint trap before each load.
- Make sure the dryer’s outdoor exhaust door is not blocked or clogged.
- Verify dryer vent hose is tightly connected to inside wall fitting.
- Check that the dryer vent hose is tightly connected to dryer.
- Minimize clothes drying time; use an auto moisture sensor on dryer if available.
- Dry consecutive loads to harvest heat remaining in dryer from last load.
- In hot weather, avoid running the dryer during the heat of the day.
- Consider using a “solar-powered” clothes dryer: an old fashioned clothesline.
Heating & Air Conditioning are usually the largest loads in a home and responsible for 40-50% of your monthly energy spend.
- Set thermostats to 78 degrees F in summer, 68 degrees F in winter.
- Install a programmable thermostat to save even more.
- Run ceiling paddle fans on medium, blowing down in summer and paddle fans on low, blowing up in winter.
- Turn off ceiling fans when leaving the room. Fans cool people, not rooms.
- When installing new air filters, make sure they are facing in the correct direction (look for arrow on side of filter).
- When heating or cooling, keep windows locked.
- Insulate electric wall outlets and wall switches with foam pads.
- Caulk along baseboards with a clear sealant.
- Caulk around plumbing penetrations that come through walls beneath bathroom and kitchen sinks.
- Caulk electrical wire penetrations at the top of the interior walls in the attic.
- Close shades and drapes at night to keep heat in during the winter.
- Make sure drapes and shades are open during the day to catch free solar heat in winter.
- Ensure attic access door closes tightly and is insulated.
- Make sure insulation in your attic does not block soffit vents.
- Do not close off unused rooms that are conditioned by forced-air systems.
- Do not close supply air registers.
- Check to be sure return air grilles are not blocked by furniture or bookcases.
- Ensure windows and doors are properly weather-stripped and use door sweeps.
- Make sure outside soffit vents are not blocked.
- Do not use roof-top power ventilators for attic exhaust as they may draw conditioned air from your home.
- Have your HVAC system serviced once per year by a NATE-certified technician.
- Monitor your home’s relative humidity in the summer. If it consistently stays in the 60 percent range or higher, ask your HVAC technician about lowering your central air conditioning unit’s indoor fan speed.
- Ensure window A/C units are weather-stripped. Remove the unit in the winter and close and lock the window.
- Remove and clean window A/C filter monthly.
- Keep “fresh-air” vents on window A/C units closed.
- Use heavy-duty, clear sheets of plastic sealed tightly on the inside of windows to reduce the amount of cold air entering your home.
- Minimize use of electric space heaters, except for limited or temporary spot heating. Turn space heaters off when leaving.
- Ensure your outdoor heat pump/air conditioning unit is kept clean and free of debris.
- When using the fireplace, turn down your heating system thermostat.
- When using the fireplace open the outside air vent in the fireplace (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly.
- Keep fireplace dampers closed unless a fire is burning.
- Ensure floor registers are not blocked with rugs, drapes or furniture.
- Caulk around storm windows and basement windows.
- Verify your ducts are tightly connected to your HVAC equipment. Well sealed and insulated ducts can save up to 10%.
- Turn off bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans 15 minutes after the job is complete or install 15-minute timers on bathroom ventilator fans.
- Plant trees and shrubs to provide shade on the east, south and west sides of your home. Evergreen trees and shrubs can provide a windbreak on the north side.
- Seal leaky ducts. When ducts have leaks, they can lose up to 15% of the heated or cooled air before it reaches living spaces.
- If you have insulation in your attic graded at R-19 or less, consider bringing it up to R-38 in moderate climates and R-49 in cold climates.
- In cold climates, if you have floor insulation graded at R-11 or less, consider bringing it up to R-25.
- Make sure there are no openings from the attic into the home, e.g., air ducts, openings around chimneys, open cavities into the home.
Windows leak heat. If you have single-pane windows, consider doing the following:
- Tighten and weather-strip your old windows and then add storm windows.
- Close shades and drapes during the day to help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
- In colder climates, “low-e” coatings on glass can help reduce heat loss through windows.
- In hot climates, consider adding solar screening to west-facing windows that catch a lot of heating late in the day. Solar screening is sold at many home improvement stores.
- Plants that shade the house help too.
Air that transfers in and out of homes through cracks, crevices and holes increases energy consumption. Here are some helpful tips to avoid air infiltration:
- Seal around pipe penetrations coming through walls.
- During hot and cold weather, ensure windows are closed tightly and locked.
- Ensure weather-stripping around doors and windows is tight.
- When your fireplace is not operating, its flue should be closed tightly, with a sign hanging from the flue handle warning it is closed.
- Check the ceiling behind the cornice of built-in bookshelves for holes cut during construction.
- Attic accesses stairways should fit tightly into the ceiling and be carefully weather-stripped using insulated sheathing board.
- Remove the whole-house fan if not used and seal and insulate.
- Make sure your outside dryer vent door closes when the dryer is not in use. This requires cleaning away lint accumulation periodically.
- Keep weather stripping around your garage door in good shape.
Install a variable speed pool pump. A properly sized variable speed pump can help you save money on your pool's energy costs.
Install timers on pool pumps to make sure that they only run the necessary amount of time needed to maintain sanitation and filtration.
Reduce your pump's run time in the winter. Reducing run time can result in large energy savings.
Keep the filters clean. This can help save wear on pumps and reduce operating costs.
If your pool or spa water is not being used, turning off the heater will result in huge savings.
If the pool heater is being used, turn down the temperature to turn up your savings.
Use a solar cover to get free heat from the sun and prevent evaporation. If too much water evaporates, the water temperature drops.
Cover your hot tub when it is not in use. A cover will keep your water temperature warm, which could save you on heating costs.
Do The Simple Things First
- Turn off lights and office equipment when not in use
- Keep windows and doors closed to prevent air loss
- Ensure all buildings have proper insulation
- Replace light fixtures with LED versions
- Regularly clean or replace air filters
- Adjust HVAC settings accordingly
Other Ways to Save
- Install motion-activated lighting
- Utilize lighting timers
- Use power strips to reduce phantom loads
- Fix any duct leaks
- Set water heater to the minimum local requirements
- Use a barrel to collect rainwater for your plants, yard or garden
- Planting leafy deciduous trees on the east, west and south sides of your home. This is provides shade in warmer months and will give extra sunlight in colder months.
- Plant evergreen trees on the northwest side of your home to serve as a barrier from winter wind.