Energy Tips

Insulation and Weatherization

Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter can waste a substantial portion of your energy dollars. One of the quickest dollar-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal and weather-strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the out side. You can save 10% or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home.

  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows that leak air.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
  • Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls.

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Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in your home. Typically 44% of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling.

No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system you have in your house, you can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy as using the whole house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, weatherization, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy bills and your pollution output in half.

  • Set your thermostats as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.
  • Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans wisely; in just one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turns fans off as soon as they have done the job.
  • During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your southern 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. During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® and EasyGuide labels. Energy Star® is a program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed to help consumers identify energy efficient appliances and products.

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Programmable Thermostats

You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for eight hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing automatic setback or programmable thermostat.

Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a preset schedule. As a result, you don’t operate the equipment as much when you are asleep or when the house or part of the house is not occupied.

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Water Heaters

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

There are four ways to cut your water heating bills: Use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on your water heater, insulate your water heater, or buy a new, more efficient water heater. A family of four, each showering for five minutes a day, uses 700 gallons of water a week; this is enough for a three-year supply of drinking water for one person. You can cut that amount in half simply by using low-flow, non-aerating showerheads and faucets.

  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period.
  • Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the thermostat.
  • Install non-aerating, low-flow faucets and shower heads.
  • Buy a new energy-efficient water heater.
  • Look for the FTC Energy Guide label.

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Windows

Windows can be one of your home’s most attractive features. Windows provide views, day lighting, 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 the U.S. homes do, consider replacing them. New double-pane windows with high-performance glass (e.g., low-e or spectral selective) are available on the market.

If you decide not to replace your windows, the simpler, less costly measures listed below can improve the performance of your windows.

  • Repair and weatherize your current storm windows, if necessary.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
  • 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.

Shopping Tips When Buying New Windows

  • When you’re shopping for new windows, look for the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label; it means the window’s performance is certified.
  • Remember the lower the U-value, the better the insulation. In colder climates, a U-value of 0.35 or below is recommended. These windows have at least double glazing or low-e coating.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® and EnergyGuide labels.

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Lighting

Increasing your lighting efficiency is one of the fastest ways to decrease your energy bills. If you replace 25% of your lights in high-use areas with fluorescents, you can save about 50% of your lighting energy bill.

Use linear fluorescent and energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in fixtures throughout your home to provide high-quality and energy-efficient lighting. Fluorescent lamps are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last six to ten times longer. Although fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, they pay for themselves by saving energy over their lifetime.

  • Turn off the lights in any room you’re not using, or consider installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
  • Use four-foot fluorescent fixtures with reflective backing and electronic ballasts for your workroom, garage, and laundry areas.
  • Use CFLs in all the portable table and floor lamps in your home. Consider carefully the size and fit of these systems when you select them.
  • Take advantage of daylight by using light-colored, loose-weave curtains on your windows to allow daylight to penetrate the room while preserving privacy. Also decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight.

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Appliances

Appliances account for about 20% of your households energy consumption, with refrigerators, clothes washers, and clothes dryers at the top of the list.

When you do have to shop for a new appliance, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR® appliances have been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DOE as being the most energy-efficient products in their classes. They usually exceed minimum federal standards by a substantial amount.

Dishwasher Tips

  • 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.
  • Don’t use the “rinse hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses three to seven gallons of hot water each time you use it.
  • Let your dishes air dry.
  • When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR® dishwashers use less water and energy and must exceed minimum federal standards by at least 13%.

Refrigerators

The Energy Guide label on new refrigerators will tell you how much electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh) a particular model uses in one year. The smaller the number, the less energy the refrigerator uses and the less it will cost you to operate. In addition to the Energy Guide label, don’t forget to look for the ENERGY STAR® label. A new refrigerator with the ENERGY STAR® label will save you between $35 and $70 a year compared to the models designed 15 years ago.

  • Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. This is not the same thing as an “anti-sweat” heater. Models with an “anti-sweat” heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature.
  • Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37° to 40F° for the fresh food compartment or the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost build up decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don’t allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals airtight.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Move your refrigerator out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils once a year unless you have a no-clean condenser model. Your refrigerator will run for shorter periods with clean coils.

Laundry

About 80% to 85% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water. There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes; use less water and use cooler water.

When shopping for a new washer, look for an ENERGY STAR® machine. These machines may cost more to buy but use about a third the energy and less water than typical machines. You’ll also save more on clothes drying, because most remove more water from your clothes during the spin cycle.

  • 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 cottons in a separate load to improve air circulation.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® Energy Guide labels.

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The above text represents excerpts from the Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home booklet produced by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a DOE national laboratory.

To view the entire publication, please visit the DOE website

Questions? Call 800.341.8580