Energy Saving Tips

Energy Saving Tips to Help Alleviate Potential Energy Emergencies

Heating your home uses more energy than any other system in your home. Typically 44% of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling. No matter what kind of heating system you have you can save energy and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment.

  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter. By turning down your home thermostat at night you will generally save 2% of your heating bill for each degree lowered.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed. Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure furniture, carpeting, or drapes do not block them.
  • Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely; in just 1 hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.
  • Keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  • Close an unoccupied room that is isolated from the rest of the house, such as in a corner, and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating for that room or zone

One of the most important systems in your home may be wasting a lot of energy. Your home duct system, a branching network of tubes in walls, floors, and ceilings, carries the air from your home’s furnace to each room. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars to your heating bills.

air duct system
  • Check your ducts for air leaks – First look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.
  • If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo to avoid tape that degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age
  • Get a professional to help you insulate and repair all ducts

If you use electricity to heat your home, consider installing an energy-efficient heat pump system.

Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate climates, providing 3 times more heating than the equivalent amount of energy they consume in electricity.

heat pump
  • Don’t set back the heat pump’s thermostat manually if it causes the electric resistance heating to come on – This type of heating, which is often used as a backup to the heat pump, is more expensive
  • Clean or change filters once a month or as needed, and maintain the system according to the manufacturer’s instructions

When you cozy up next to a crackling fire on a cold winter day, you probably don’t realize that your fireplace is one of the most inefficient heat sources you can possibly use.

It literally sends volumes of warm air right up the chimney.

fire in fireplace
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a 48-inch window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest winder slightly, approximately 1 inch, and close doors leading into the room
  • Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room
  • Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth

Windows provide daylighting, ventilation, and solar heating in the winter. Unfortunately, they can also account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill.

If your home has single-pane windows, as almost half of US homes do, consider replacing them. If you decide not to replace your windows, these tips can help.

brown house
  • Install exterior or interior storm windows; storm windows can reduce your heat loss
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty
  • Close your curtains and shades at night; open them during the day
  • Keep windows on the south side of your house clean to maximize solar gain

Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home and typically accounts for 14% of your utility bill

water heater
  • Use less hot water, which can be done by using low-flow, non-rating shower heads and repairing leaky faucets promptly
  • Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the thermostat
  • Buy a new, more efficient water heater
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high-temperature settings

About 80% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water.

Unless you’re dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half.

washing machine and dryer
  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
  • Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate
  • water level setting. Dry towels and heavier cotton in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
  • Don’t over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor uses it.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
  • Use the cool-down cycle for all the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
  • Periodically inspect your dryer vent to make sure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire.

Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating.

plates in dishwasher
  • Scrape, don’t rinse, off large food pieces and bones – Soaking or pre-washing is generally only recommended in cases of burned on or dried on food
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded
  • Let your dishes air dry; if you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster

Check around your house to see if some small changes in your lighting can help you save energy.

lamp next to desk
  • Higher-wattage incandescent light bulbs are more efficient than lower-wattage bulbs
  • It takes two 60 or four 40-watt light bulbs to provide as much light as one 100-watt light bulb
  • Use the lowest-wattage light bulb to accomplish the task at hand. In other words, don’t use a 100-watt light bulb when a 60-watt will do
  • Whatever light bulb you use be careful not to exceed the manufacturer’s recommended wattage for the fixture
  • Current compact fluorescent light bulbs screw into the same bulb socket as regular light bulbs and produce the same quality of light
  • A compact fluorescent light bulb uses 70% less electricity and lasts up to 10 times longer than an incandescent light bulb
  • Reduce exterior decorative lighting

If it’s not being used, turn it off. This includes: