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Energy saving tips

Did you know that replacing five incandescent light bulbs with LEDs can save you up to $100 in energy costs per year? The following no-cost or low-cost and seasonal energy saving resources are a great checklist to ensure you're using energy efficiently. You can also download a short list of good habits to help you save.

No cost energy saving tips

  • Turn off everything not in use — lights, computers, etc.
  • Avoid “phantom load” by unplugging appliances such as TVs and DVD players, or chargers for electronics like mobile devices and tablets, which still consume power when plugged in but not turned on.
  • Reduce the time spent with your doors and windows open when you are heating or air conditioning.
  • In the winter, let the sun shine in by opening window coverings. Be sure to close them at night.
  • Throw an extra blanket on the bed and lower your nighttime winter thermostat setting.
  • Inspect, clean or change furnace filters once a month.
  • Refer to your water heater owner's manual to ensure you have the settings adjusted for maximum energy efficiency.
  • Refer to appliance owner's manual to maximize efficiency when operating things like washing machines and dishwashers.
  • Use pots and pans that fit the burners - small pans on small burners, etc. to reduce energy waste.
  • Use countertop-cooking appliances when possible, a toaster oven or microwave will cost less to operate than heating a large oven.
  • Keep light fixtures clean. Dust can obstruct light output by as much as 25%.
  • Washing your clothes in cold water can save you approximately 50 cents per load.

Low cost energy saving tips

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient lighting, such as LEDs. Efficient lighting uses a fraction of the energy and last much longer.
  • Install a programmable thermostat and program it to adjust temperatures at night or when you are away.
  • Caulk and weather-strip not just exterior door and window frames, but also recessed lighting, gaps around plumbing and electrical outlets, vents and fireplaces.
  • Routine maintenance on your air conditioner and furnace can prolong product life and reduce operating costs.
  • Install switch plate and outlet gaskets to reduce air infiltration.
  • When purchasing new appliances, look for those that are ENERGY STAR-rated if possible.
  • Plant deciduous trees to create shade in summer months. Plant evergreens to provide a windbreak for your home in winter. Find out where the best place is to plant these trees here.
  • Add insulation to your attic if it has less than 6 inches of cellulose or 7 inches of fiberglass insulation.
  • Add storm windows or doors to your home if not already equipped.
  • Install motion lighting or dimmer switches to lighting systems. CFLs made for motion lights and dimmers are available at most home improvement stores.

Energy myths

There's no need to ever turn off your computer

Computers should be shut down when not used for 2 hours or longer. At other times, use the “sleep” or “energy saver” mode. This will turn off the monitor, but your computer won't have to be restarted.

A surge power strip makes it easy to turn off everything at once; your computer, monitor and peripherals, such as modems, draw power even if the computer is not using them. Screen savers don't save energy and can prevent your computer from going into “energy saver” mode if activated.

When purchasing a new computer look for ENERGY STAR-qualified computers, which use 70% less electricity than computers without power management features.

Appliances use no energy when turned off

A large number of electrical products such as DVD players, TVs and phone chargers, can't be switched off completely without unplugging them or turning off a power strip. Even some gas appliances have electronic transformers, microchips, digital clocks, LEDs and soft-touch buttons that use electricity. This so-called "phantom power" costs you money with little to no benefit. Phantom power consumes 5 percent of all residential energy use in the United States.

The best use of an old fridge is to provide extra storage in the garage or basement

When old refrigerators are retired to the garage or basement for extra cold storage, it can cost $100 or more per year in energy use. Old refrigerators are less energy efficient than new ones — some of them using nearly twice as much energy. Additionally, refrigerators aren't designed to operate in unconditioned spaces. The heat of summer and cold of winter can result in even more energy waste and leave your appliance unable to maintain proper food storage temperatures. 

It's less expensive to leave lights on than it is to turn them off and on

Leaving an incandescent light on actually uses more energy than turning it off and on as needed, the same can be said for LEDs. However, If you are using a compact fluorescent light bulb, it should be left on if it will be needed within about 5 minutes. Turning CFLs on and off frequently can shorten the life of the bulb. There is no negative effect on LED bulbs when turning them off and on.

In winter, it takes more energy to warm a house up in the morning than to just leave the thermostat on the same setting all night

Setting your thermostat 8ºF cooler or more before you go to bed and warming the house in the morning uses less energy and saves your money.

The higher you set your thermostat in the winter the faster the house will warm up and the lower you set your thermostat in the summer the faster the house will cool off

It takes the same amount of time for the temperature to reach 70 degrees whether the thermostat is set at 70 degrees or at 90 degrees. Setting the thermostat setting way up or way down only increases the likelihood of wasting energy and increasing costs.

Ceiling fans don't save energy

You can turn the thermostat on your air conditioner up a few degrees and help people feel cooler by moving the air in the room with fans. But fans cool people, not rooms, so remember to turn them off when the room is unoccupied to save energy.

Summer energy saving tips

  • Get rid of that spare fridge in the garage. A hot summer garage combined with an old inefficient fridge is a recipe for wasting energy and high energy bills.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. Keep thermostat settings at the highest temperature that you are comfortable at. The smaller the difference between your indoor and outdoor temperature, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
  • Move air with ceiling fans or use natural ventilation whenever possible.
  • During hot, humid times, seal up the house and air-condition around the clock (set the thermostat and leave it).
  • Run the bathroom exhaust fan while showering to reduce humidity.
  • Be sure the clothes dryer is sealed and vented to the outside.
  • Have air-conditioners or heat pumps serviced. Change filters once a month or when needed.
  • Close window shades and curtains on sun exposed windows.
  • Minimize heat in the kitchen by grilling outdoors and using the microwave instead of the oven or stove.
  • If you are replacing your air-conditioner, consider installing a high-efficiency heat pump.
  • Set water heater to 120ºF. Drain a quart of water every 3 months to remove sediment.

Fall energy saving tips

  • Clean or replace furnace filters once per month or as needed. Dirty filters block warm air coming from the blower and your furnace will operate less efficiently.
  • If it is time to replace your furnace, ask a HVAC professional about the benefits of an energy efficient heat pump. Learn more about heat pumps.
  • Program your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature, lower it 8 degrees or more at night for maximum efficiency. You could lower your energy costs by 1% for each degree you lower your setting (for at least 8 hours).
  • If your water heater is older, wrap it with an insulation jacket.
  • Caulk all exterior doors and window frames.
  • Weather-strip all exterior doors and windows.
  • Keep shades and curtains open to allow sunlight in during the day. Close them at night.
  • Close the fireplace damper when not in use.
  • Don’t block air registers with furniture, drapes or other objects.
  • Insulate or increase the amount of insulation in your attic, outside walls and basement.

Winter energy saving tips

  • Program your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature, lower it 8 degrees or more at night for maximum efficiency. You could lower your energy costs by 1% for each degree you lower your setting (for at least 8 hours).
  • Electric blankets use very little electricity and allow you to comfortably lower your thermostat at night.
  • Weatherize your home. Caulk and weather-strip all doors and windows. Install foam gaskets around wall outlets.
  • Insulate or increase the amount of insulation in your attic.
  • Open shades or drapes during the day on sun exposed windows. Close them at night.
  • Don't block vents with furniture or draperies. Close vents and doors in unused rooms.
  • Close the fireplace damper when not in use.
  • Have your furnace or heat pump serviced. Change filters once a month or at the very least once every three months.
  • Set water heater to 120ºF. Drain a quart of water every 3 months to remove sediment.
  • Use electric space heaters sparingly.
  • Planting evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and west sides of your house can partly insulate your home against those cold weather winds.
  • Use LED holiday lights instead of traditional bulbs. LED holiday lights use 90% less energy.
  • Consider putting your holiday yard displays on a timer to reduce wasted energy.
  • If you are replacing your furnace, consider installing a high-efficiency heat pump.

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