We all want our homes to run efficiently, and to save on our power bill. But sometimes life gets busy and it’s hard to find the time to monitor our home’s energy use. We offer a number of tips and tools to make it easier for you to start saving energy and money.
Energy-saving tips while spending more time at home
During this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, while so many customers are either working or staying at home more, these useful energy-saving tips that can be easily implemented to help you manage energy use.
Air Conditioner Efficiency
Having more people home during a hot day will tempt you to lower your AC to stay cool. Try to keep your thermostat set at 78, or as comfortable as possible for your situation. Each degree you raise the thermostat can help you save up to 5% on your monthly cooling costs.
Adopt an open door policy and keep bedroom and other doors open if possible – closed doors can block the airflow of your AC, making it work harder.
Remember to close shades, blinds and drapes to keep the sun’s heat out, which keeps your home cooler.
Try to keep lights off in unoccupied rooms. Leaving a lamp, fan or television turned on all the time can increase your electric bill.
Use fans wisely: Your ceiling fan keeps you cool but doesn’t cool your room. When you leave a room, turn off the fan to save from $3 to $7 a month compared to leaving them on all of the time.
Turn off ceiling, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans when you leave the room or after use to save.
Cooking & Appliance Efficiency
Use the smallest appliance you need to cook – like a slow cooker, microwave or toaster oven. Heating a stove or oven takes quite a bit of energy, plus it heats up the kitchen, so your AC must work even longer to keep your house comfortable. A toaster or convection oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
Meal prepping for the week? Bake several dishes at a time, using the smallest appliance you need to get the job done. When dinner’s over, make sure to run a full dishwasher. You will save water and electricity.
More meal prep means more food is being stored in your refrigerator and freezer.
Clean your appliance’s condenser coils so it runs more efficiently.
Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment.
Fire up the grill! Using an outdoor grill instead of the oven can help keep your kitchen cool and lower your electric bill.
Clean the lint filter in your dryer before every load, not just once it fills up, to minimize drying time.
Your TV, game systems, routers and cable boxes are probably getting a lot of use right now. Keep in mind, increased use of TVs and systems can raise your bill (approx. $8-$15 per month), so make sure that they are turned off or unplugged when not in use.
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Check out these tips to help you stay comfortable and use energy efficiently at the same time.
Heating and Cooling
Consider these tips to curtail your heating and cooling costs.
Refresh Your Air Filter
Replacing a dirty air filter is probably the simplest, most inexpensive and most often overlooked maintenance job there is. Replace or clean your air filter once a month for fresher air and a more efficient heating and cooling system.
Adjust Your Thermostat
Get in the habit of leaving your thermostat at a constant temperature. During the summer, try 78° or above; in the winter, try 68° or below. If you change the temperature throughout the day, you are more likely to waste energy.
Use Efficient Equipment
Even the best insulated home will waste energy unless special attention is given to the efficiency of its mechanical equipment. Have your equipment checked by a qualified dealer each year before the heating or cooling season begins.
Be a Fan of Your Fan
Fans can be used in conjunction with air conditioning to help reduce energy costs. The "wind chill" effect allows you to set the thermostat slightly higher while maintaining the same degree of comfort in the room. Most ceiling fans are also designed to be reversible for winter operation, to direct the warmer air back down toward the floor level.
In the Kitchen
Because it contains appliances that are used daily, the kitchen is a good place to manage energy.
Use Your Dishwasher — Efficiently
Washing and rinsing dishes by hand three times a day uses more hot water and energy than one load a day in an automatic dishwasher. But make sure you’re being smart with your dishwasher:
Read your owners manual and make sure you are loading dishes properly to avoid blocking the dispenser and spray arms, and that you are using the proper amount of detergent.
Don’t overload your dishwasher. Always use the shortest cycle that will clean your dishes, and take advantage of partial-load cycles and other special features for better energy use.
On hot days, wait to use your dishwasher until night to avoid adding heat in the house.
Choose a High-Efficiency Refrigerator or Freezer
Look for these features when buying a new refrigerator or freezer:
A high-efficiency motor
Improved or thicker insulation (polyurethane foam or fiberglass)
Low estimated kilowatt-hour (kWh) usage per month
The smallest unit to meet your needs
Then Make Sure Your Refrigeration Appliance Operates Efficiently
Locate your appliance on a level surface, away from heat sources and direct sunlight, and provide adequate clearance all around for good air circulation. For the best operation:
Keep your refrigerator's temperature between 37° and 40° and your freezer’s setting at 0°.
Keep condenser coils and door gaskets clean.
Don't overload with too much food, and cover all liquids.
Don't open the door or keep it open more than needed.
Cook Up Some Energy Savings
You don't have to be a master chef to cook like an energy pro:
Use one oven to prepare the entire meal. For example, a pie can go into the oven as a main dish is removed.
Warming foods, plates and platters with the oven's stored heat after baking, requires no energy. If the food must be kept warm for an extended period of time, set the oven no higher than 140° to 200°.
Cook by time and temperature, resisting the urge to open the oven door to check on progress. The temperature drops 25° to 50° each time the door is opened.
Consider using a microwave, toaster oven, or other small appliance instead of the oven. These use about one-third the power of an oven broiler.
Around the House
Learn various tips and tricks to keep energy use low around your home, from using hot water wisely to saving energy on appliance use.
Using Hot Water Wisely
Your water heater is the second largest energy user in your home. Here are some tips to curtail your hot water consumption:
Use your drain stopper. Closing the drain when shaving or hand washing dishes will save gallons of hot water.
Equip your shower with a flow control or regulator to reduce water volume while increasing pressure. Look for these devices at your local hardware store.
Repair dripping faucets and save water, energy and money. Dripping faucets overwork the water heater, erode valve seats and often cause ugly sink stains.
Turn down the thermostat on your water heater to 140°, 120° if you don’t use a dishwasher.
Cold water cleans many fabrics and soils just as well as warm water. Heavily soiled fabrics may require hot water.
Don’t use too much soap. Oversudsing makes your washer work harder and may require a second wash to remove excess soap.
Try to wash full loads whenever possible. It takes as much energy to wash a single item as it takes to wash a full load.
Energy-Saving Ideas for Your Dryer
Never use more heat than you need, and remember that excessive heat can damage some fabrics. Dry loads of clothes immediately after one another. With the dryer already warm, you won’t waste energy bringing it back up to the desired temperature level. Other suggestions:
Locate your dryer where it has access to fresh air. Humid air increases drying time and energy costs.
Separate loads into heavy and lightweight items.
Clean the lint filter after each use to maximize airflow and efficiency.
Installing efficient bulbs is just the start. Here are more good habits to adopt to save energy on lighting:
Turn off lights that aren’t being used.
Buy lamps with three-way switches and install dimmers for overhead lighting so you can lower the settings when less light is required.
Use night-lights, which are low wattage, instead of leaving larger-wattage hall or room lights on at night.
Open drapes on south-facing windows during winter daylight hours to get "free" light and heat.
When seasons change, so do the most effective ways to save energy.
Hot Weather Tips
There are many things you can do to make you and your home more comfortable in the summer:
Keep heat out: Close your blinds and drapes during the day to prevent heat gain.
Adjust thermostat: The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. The standard energy industry recommendation is to set your thermostat to 78° or the highest temperature where you can still be comfortable. For every degree below 78°, you’ll use 5-10 percent more energy to cool your home.
A fan of fans: Ceiling fans offer an inexpensive alternative to setting the thermostat to a lower temperature because fans make you feel several degrees cooler without lowering the temperature in the room — all while using a fraction of the energy consumed by the A/C. Set the fan to turn counter-clockwise in the summer and be sure to turn it off when leaving the room.
Reduce heat production: Avoid using the oven during the summer and, instead, cook on the grill, use the microwave or stove top, or prepare meals that don’t require cooking. Replace heat-producing incandescent light bulbs with cooler and energy-efficient lighting. In fact, LEDs last about 10 times longer and produce four times more light than standard incandescent bulbs for the same amount of energy.
Find inexpensive DIY projects to complete around the house.
Most older homes don’t have enough insulation. Adding or increasing attic insulation is a great way to increase your home’s energy efficiency and comfort level, and save up to 30% on your heating and cooling costs.
Sealing air leaks is another great way to increase energy efficiency. Caulking should be applied wherever two different materials or parts of the house meet. It is available in a variety of forms. Select the caulk best-suited for the part of the house you are improving.
Weather-stripping also helps prevent leaks. It can be purchased by the foot or in kit form, and there is a special kind for double doors, which often are hung with a substantial gap where they meet so the doors can swing freely. For the bottom of a door you may want to use something called a “door sweep.”
You have some choices to make when it comes to weather stripping also. You may need spring-metal, rolled-vinyl or adhesive-backed weather stripping, depending on the type of windows and doors you have.