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Save Energy & Money
Keeping the warm air in during the winter months and keeping the hot air out during the summer months not only helps you stay comfortable, it keeps your electric bill affordable. Not sure where to begin? The tips below will help you identify some ways that you can save energy and cut the cost of your electric bill.
- Winter Savings Tips
During colder months:
- We recommend 68 degrees or lower. If you have a heat pump, adjust your thermostat in I-degree increments to avoid activing the costly auxiliary heat.
- Seal air leaks: Drafts can increase your heating bill by 20 percent.
- Use less hot water: Adjust the temperature setting on your water heater to 120 degrees.
- Limit use of space heaters :Instead, consider small electric blankets.
- Spare fridge or freezer? If not kept full, it should be emptied and unplugged until needed.
Here are some other suggestions for saving energy this winter:
- Use a programmable thermostat.
- Have your heating system serviced annually.
- Check your filters monthly and change when dirty.
- Don't block heat supply or return air vents with furniture or other objects.
- Keep outside heating unit free of debris.
- Ensure ductwork is well insulated.
- Remove window air-conditioning units during winter.
- Make sure your fireplace damper seals tightly and remains closed except when a fire is burning.
- Open drapes and curtains to let the sun in during the day.
- Ensure windows and doors seal tightly when closed.
- Is your home's insulation up to current standard? Is some missing or compressed? There should be about 13" or R-38 in attics, R-15 for walls and 6" or R-19 in crawl space floors.
- Do not run ceiling fans in the winter.
- Summer Savings Tips
During the summer:
- Keep your thermostat at 78 degrees or the highest comfortable setting.
- Avoid placing lamps or TVs near your air-conditioning thermostat.
- Have your cooling system serviced annually.
- Check your filters monthly and replace when dirty.
- Don't block your supply or return air vents with furniture or other objects.
- At night, lower the thermostat to cool off the house.
- Check your cooling system's ductwork. Ensure that it is well insulated.
- Close drapes and curtains to keep the sun out during the day.
- Check all windows and doors to be sure they seal tightly when closed.
- Is your home's insulation up to current standard? Is some missing or compressed. There should be about 13" of insulation, or an equivalent of R-38, in attics, R-13 for walls and 6" or R-19 in crawl space floors. Add additional insulation if yours is below standard.
- Run ceiling fans only in occupied rooms.
- Air Leaks & Insulation
One of the quickest energy and money-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal and weather-strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. Up to 25% of air is lost through small cracks and holes! To identify air leaks, check around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, lighting and plumbing fixtures, switches and electrical outlets. Look for gaps, improperly applied caulk and weather-stripping, and doors and windows that don’t close tightly.
After you identify all air leaks, do the following:
- Weather-strip doors and windows.
- Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
- Install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
- Use foam sealant on larger gaps around window trims, baseboards, and other places where air may leak out.
- Wood-burning fireplaces and wood-burning stoves usually have a damper installed. The damper is designed to be shut when the fireplace is not in use and can be easily opened when it is. It's common to forget to close the damper after a fire goes out. This essentially leaves a big hole through which heated or cooled air can escape the house. Be sure to close the damper when not in use to help maintain the temperature in your home.
Run ceiling fans only when someone is occupying the room. Ceiling fans cool people not rooms. Using a ceiling fan allows you to turn up the thermostat about 4°F without any loss in comfort.
- In the winter set the fan to run in the clockwise direction to help push warm air down.
- In the summer months set the ceiling fan to run counterclockwise to circulate cool air.
- Turn off kitchen, bath and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing. When replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
Check air filters at least once a month and change as needed.
We recommend using filters with MERV ratings of six to eight. Unless the system was designed for higher MERV ratings, it is recommended that an HVAC professional who is NATE-certified should be used to verify that the air flow does not restrict the performance of the system.
Heating and cooling professionals recommend turning your system off before changing the air filter. Make sure that the arrow on the filter - which indicates the direction of the airflow - is pointing toward the blower motor. Once you’ve made the change, turn your system back on.
The average U.S. household has about 70 light bulbs. One LED (light-emitting diode) light bulb uses up to 850% less energy than old incandescent bulbs and and has the potential to last tens of thousands of hours, so you’ll be buying and changing bulbs less frequently.
The Lighting Facts label helps you buy the light bulbs that are right for you.
The brightness of the bulb is listed first on the label. While you may be used to thinking about brightness in terms of watts, it makes more sense to think in terms of lumens, or the amount of brightness a bulb provides—the higher the number, the brighter the bulb.
Then look at the light appearance or color of the bulb. The scale on the label will tell you whether the bulb is warm or cool.
The numbers shown are on a Kelvin (K) temperature scale.
- For soft, white, warmer light, look for bulbs marked 2700–3000 K.
- For a whiter light, look for bulbs marked 3500–4100 K.
- For bluer white light or daylight, look for bulbs marked 5000–6500 K.
Learn more HERE
Smart and Programmable Thermostats:
Being smart about how you control your temperature settings will help you save money and stay comfortable. Set your thermostat up or down a few degrees (suggested 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer) when you are away from home.
A programmable thermostat will automatically turn on the heating or air conditioning at times you schedule. Programmable thermostats can store multiple daily settings that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program. Using a programmable thermostat allows flexibility and adds convenience, as temperatures will automatically return to normal before you wake or return home.
A smart thermostat is a Wi-Fi enabled device that automatically adjusts heating and cooling temperature settings for optimal performance. With a smart thermostat, it’s easy to schedule your HVAC to run less while you’re out for the day, so you’ll use less energy. Some common smart thermostat features:
- Learns the temperature you like and establishing a schedule that automatically adjusts to energy-saving temperatures when you are asleep or away.
- Senses when nobody is at home and adjusts the temperature accordingly.
- Allows you to control thermostat remotely through your smartphone or tablet.
To keep your electric meter from spinning, unplug devices that use power even when powered down such as CD or DVD players, cell phone chargers, camera and battery chargers, small appliances, video game consoles computers and TVs.
Consider plugging electronics into a smart strip so you can turn "unplug" many of them at the same time.
- Water Heating
There are four primary ways to cut your water heating bills: use less hot water; turn down the thermostat on your water heater; insulate your water heater and pipes; or buy a new, more efficient model.
You can take steps to use less hot water and improve the efficiency of your existing water heating system.
- If your hot water tank is warm to the touch, consider insulating it.
- Consider insulating your hot water pipes. Doing so can reduce heat loss, allow you lower the temperature setting.
- Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees.
- If you find yourself waiting for the water in your shower to get hot, consider installing a new shower head that has a temperature-sensitive switch that turns off the water when hot. When you step into the shower, you flick a switch on the shower head that restarts the hot water flow.
- Take short showers instead of baths.
- Repair leaky faucets promptly. A leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.
- Wash only full loads of dishes.
- Wash only full loads of clothes in cold water.
- Run your garbage disposal with cold water.
Windows can be one of your home’s most attractive features. Windows provide views, daylight, ventilation and heat from the sun in the winter. Unfortunately, heat moving in and out of your home through windows can increase your heating and air conditioning bills. Energy-efficient windows and measures to reduce heat gain and loss can help save energy and reduce energy bills.
Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying new windows. Also review ratings from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). NFRC ratings are included on all ENERGY STAR certified windows and provide a reliable way to determine a window’s energy properties and compare products.
- Close your curtains and shades at night to protect against cold drafts; open them during the day to let in warming sunlight.
- Apply low-e film on the inside of your windows to keep heat from radiating out. Films are rated by the NFRC and will be rated by the Attachments Energy Rating Council (AERC).
- Repair and weatherize your current storm windows, if necessary.
- Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house. It is always best to install exterior shades whenever possible.
- Close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day.
- Install awnings on south- and west-facing windows to create shade.
- Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain.
Free Online Energy Audits
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) offer simple web-based tools that provide energy efficiency assessments for consumers wishing to manage their energy consumption.
Energy Star® Home Energy Yardstick
The EPA's Home Energy Yardstick calculates home energy use and assigns a score compared against similar homes. The performance-based home assessment takes home information provided by the consumer, such as utility bill data, and calculates a score using a statistical algorithm that determines the effects of local weather, home size and number of occupants on home energy use. The Yardstick score can then be increased by improving the energy efficiency of home features and/or equipment or by making changes in energy consumption.
Visit the Home Energy Yardstick website
Home Energy Saver™
The DOE's Home Energy Saver calculator was the first web-based tool for calculating energy use in residential buildings with an annual average of one million website visitors. The web service provides customized estimates of residential energy use, energy bills and CO2 emissions, based on building description information provided by the user. The service identifies potential energy-saving strategies and ranks them in order of cost-effectiveness.