• Take advantage of natural light. Open drapes and blinds during the day instead of using artificial light.
• Clean lampshades and light fixtures. Dust and residue can absorb 50% of light.
• Turn off lights when not in use, even for short periods of time.
• Plan the lighting zones in your home. Not all rooms need the same amount of light. Provide the necessary amount of light in each room by placing additional light sources where they are needed most. For example, place a desk lamp or reading lamp in the rooms you work and read in the most.
• Check dimmer controls, high/low switches and three-way fixtures to adjust the light level as needed. The more intense the light setting, the more energy used by the light fixture.
• Avoid using long-lasting incandescent light bulbs. These bulbs are the least efficient of all incandescent light bulbs (over 90% of the electricity they use is wasted).
• Control outdoor lighting. Use a photocell sensor or timer to ensure that outdoor lights are only used at night.
• Make the switch. Swap out incandescent light bulbs for more energy efficient CFLs. CFLs or compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75% less energy than a traditional incandescent light bulb. CFLs last longer than incandescent bulbs and are available in a variety of forms to accommodate dimmable, three-way, or other specialty light fixtures.
• When possible use LED lights. LEDs or light-emitting diodes are small light sources that become illuminated by the movement of electrons through a semiconductor material. LEDs are found in a variety of products including flashlights, light bulbs and integrated light fixtures. When possible use an LED to save electricity around the house. To save electricity around the holidays use LED holiday lights when decorating your home. LED holiday lights are available for indoor or outdoor use. To compare, incandescent holiday lights consume 5 to 7 watts per bulb, while LED holiday lights of the same size and shape use 0.35 watts per bulb.
• Use the microwave, toaster oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker when possible. These devices use less energy than a conventional oven. For example, a microwave oven uses 75% less energy than a conventional oven.
• Clean or replace air filters, exhaust hoods and humidifiers to maintain energy efficiency and comfort in your home.
• DO NOT let electronic devices, including, computers, televisions, printers, coffee makers or unused electronics, remain plugged in during the day when you are not at home. Typically, these devices still use energy even when they are switched off. By using power strips or unplugging these devices when you know they will not be in use reduces the amount of energy consumed by electronics in your home while you are away.
• Use a power strip. By plugging in related electronics into a single power strip you can conveniently switch off the power source to these products while not in use. For example, if you plug in your television, game console, DVD player and sound equipment to one power strip you can easily disconnect the power supply to all of these devices with the flick of one switch.
Ranges and Ovens
• DO NOT open the oven while baking or cooking. Each time you open the oven door, the temperature inside the oven drops by 25°F to 50°F. This drop in temperature causes the oven to consume more energy to increase the oven temperature to the desired setting.
• Turn off the stove and oven a few minutes before the meal is finished cooking. The retained heat will finish the job, while using less energy.
• Keep your oven clean. Clean ovens are more efficient.
• Check the seal of your oven door. Even a small gap between your oven door and the seal allows heat to escape. If you can pass a dollar bill through the oven door after closing the door against the oven seal or gasket the door is not sealing well. Replace the seal or gasket to prevent energy waste.
• Put the lid on pots and pans while cooking on the stovetop. Lids trap heat and reduce the amount of energy required for cooking or boiling water.
Refrigerators and Freezers
• Do not overload your refrigerator or freezer. Refrigerators and freezers operate most efficiently when they are full, but not overloaded.
• Do not place hot foods in the refrigerator. Allow leftovers to cool before placing them in the refrigerator.
• Cover food. The compressor of your refrigerator works harder to cool moist air. Covering food reduces the humidity caused by evaporation and reduces lingering odors in your fridge.
• Do not set the temperature colder than necessary. Set the temperature of your refrigerator between 36°F and 42°F and the freezer between -5°F and -6°F. Place thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer to help you configure the temperature correctly.
• Clean the condenser coils, fins, evaporator pan and motor of your refrigerator and/or freezer once or twice a year. A clean unit will work more efficiently. To clean your refrigerator or freezer unplug the unit and clean with a long-handled brush or vacuum to remove dust and dirt.
• Defrost your freezer regularly. Accumulated ice in your freezer causes the freezer to work harder. Do not allow for more than a quarter inch of ice to build up in your refrigerator or freezer.
• Leave some space in your refrigerator for the cold air to circulate. Allow at least two inches of space on each side of the unit for good air circulation. Poor air circulation can increase energy consumption by up to 10%.
• If possible, place refrigerators and freezers away from direct sunlight or other sources of heat including ovens and stoves. External heat sources cause refrigerators and freezers to use more energy to stay cold.
• Do not place freezers in an unheated space. If the temperature of the room drops below 60°F the unit will be less efficient causing you to spend more money to keep it running.
• Even a small space between the door and seal of your refrigerator or freezer can cause cold air to escape and waste energy. If you can pass a dollar bill in between the door gasket and door when shut, the door gasket should be changed.
• Wash full loads to reduce electricity and water waste.
• Select the shortest cycle that thoroughly cleans your plates. Shorter cycles use less hot water and less energy.
• Do not rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. If you have to rinse, use cold water.
• If your dishwasher has a filter screen, clean it regularly. A clean dishwasher works more efficiently.
Washer and Dryer
• When possible dry your clothes outdoors. It’s free to hang dry your clothing and preserves the quality of fabrics.
• Adjust the water level of your washing machine according to the load. This will allow you to use less hot water and less energy to meet your laundry needs.
• To conserve energy use cold or warm water instead of hot water.
• Do not excessively dry your clothes. Leaving your clothes in the dryer longer than necessary is a waste of energy and can ruin the fabric of your clothing. When shopping for a new dryer look for a unit with an electronic sensor that automatically turns off the dryer when your clothes are dry.
• Do not overload the dryer. Stuffing a dryer with clothes causes the unit to work harder.
• Dry multiple loads one after the other. By drying laundry loads back to back you can take advantage of the heat buildup in the dryer.
• Clean the filter after each use. Also, regularly check the air vent and the hose for buildup or an unexpected block. Preventing buildup within the filter, air vent and hose maintain the efficiency of the unit and prevent the risk of fire.
• When possible place your washer near your water heater. When water travels from the water heater to the washing machine the water loses heat. By reducing the distance the water must travel you can reduce heat loss and increase energy efficiency. In addition, insulating the pipes between the water heater and the washing machine helps to retain heat.
Water Heaters and Water Use
• Insulate water pipes. Pipe insulation helps retain heat as hot water travels throughout your home to faucets, showerheads, dishwaters, washing machines, and bathtubs.
• Adjust the water temperature in your home to 120°F. It takes less energy to heat water to a lower temperature.
• Reduce mineral deposits and sediment backup in your water heater. Once or twice a year, pour a bucket of water from the bottom of the heater to reduce mineral deposits and sediment accumulation. (Note: If the water heater has been used for several years and has not been drained before the faucet may have corroded and can break if you open it) Be sure to turn off the water heater before draining the water.
Air Conditioning and Heating
• Keep heat sources, including lamps, televisions, and other heat emitting electronics away from the thermostat. The heat from these devices can cause the thermostat to interpret the room temperature inaccurately causing excessive cooling.
• For central air conditioning units, tune or allow for a maintenance check up every two years by a qualified contractor.
• Keep the condenser and filter clean. Keep leaves, grass and other debris out of outdoor units. Clean your air conditioner filter monthly and replace it when necessary to maintain the energy efficiency of your air conditioning unit.
• During the summer or hot months when your air conditioner is in use do not let the sun’s heat into your home. Close the binds and curtains on the sunny side of the house to keep the house cool and reduce the amount of energy required to cool your home.
• Cool only the rooms in use. Close the doors to rooms not being used to cool the areas in your home that are used the most.
• When running your air conditioner avoid tasks that produce heat and humidity.
• On hot, humid days limit the use of the dishwasher, washer and dryer, and kitchen appliances to avoid causing your air conditioner to work harder than necessary. For example, use the microwave instead of the oven to generate less heat and humidity in your home during hot summer months.
• Keep the air vents open. Keep furniture and draperies away from vents. This allows cold air into the room and prevents your air conditioner from running longer than necessary.
• Install proper ventilation in your attic to reduce heat build up during hot summer months.
• If possible, keep your air conditioning unit out of the sun, avoid the south and west sides of the house. Placing an air conditioner in the sun causes it to work harder.
• If you have an air conditioner with different fan speeds, use them. By adjusting the fan speed to your needs your home will cool off faster, the air conditioner can run at a quieter setting when possible, and you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.
• For individual or window unit air conditioners use a timer to ensure the air conditioner is turned off while you are not home and turns on right before you return home.
• For window air conditioning units, remove the unit at the end of the hot season. If you must leave the unit in place, cover the outside with a weatherproof cover and fill the cracks around the unit with removable caulk to keep out cold air and prevent energy waste during cold winter months.
• Clean furnace filters monthly and replace the filter if necessary. A clean furnace works more efficiently.
• Set your thermostat to 60°F at bedtime or when you are away from home. Set the thermostat to 68°F when at home. By lowering the temperature at night or when you are away from home you can save 10% or more on your heating bill every winter.
• If you will be away from home for an extended amount of time, lower your thermostat no colder than 40°F. If you have plants inside do not lower the temperature below 50°F.
• During cold winter months, let the sun in! The sun’s energy can have a dramatic effect on the temperature of your home. Keep shades and curtains open during the winter months, especially windows facing south and west, to let in the sun’s heat.
• Use the fireplace sparingly. Many of the older natural fireplaces are inefficient and draw more energy than they produce. Close the fireplace to prevent warm air from escaping when not in use.
• Use ceiling fans when using air conditioning. Fans help reduce energy costs by circulating the cool air-conditioned air and adjusting room temperature faster. For even greater circulation use oscillating fans.
• On hot days, set the direction of the fan to push air down to reduce the amount of air conditioning required to cool your home. On cold days, turn the direction of the fan to push air toward the ceiling. By pushing air towards the ceiling the hot air is pushed away from the ceiling, which evenly distributes the heat throughout the room.
Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers
• Use a humidifier during cold winter months. Humidity makes you feel less cold. With the proper humidity level and programing your thermostat lower you can save energy and maintain the comfort of your home. The recommended humidity level is 20% to 40%.
• During warm and humid months use a dehumidifier to remove moisture. A lower level of humidity helps you to feel more comfortable, which allows you to set the temperature in your home slightly higher to reduce energy consumption. (Dehumidifiers work best when air can circulate freely through them. Put dehumidifiers away from walls and bulky furniture)