Ways You Can Save

Energy Savings Tips

These are excerpted from The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the Texas Electric Choice Education Program, Public Utility Commission of Texas.

Winter Heating

  • Set the thermostat to 68 degrees, and set it back even more when you are sleeping or away from home. By turning down your thermostat one degree, you can save up to 3 percent on your heating bill.
  • Look for a furnace that is ENERGY STAR approved for energy efficiency.
  • Check your furnace filter monthly and change it when needed. Keep the space around your furnace clean.
  • If needed, have your heating system tuned-up by a professional. Keep all heat registers and air ducts clear.
  • Make sure there is adequate insulation in your attic, walls, basement, crawl spaces, and floors. You should also make sure the accesses to your attic are insulated and weather-stripped.
  • Use a portable electric space heater to add warmth to the room you are in. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use.
  • Close the fireplace damper when it is not in use. You can also shut the door and close the heat vents in rooms that are not used.
  • Remove window air conditioning units from your windows during the winter months or fill the cracks with weather-stripping. Seal drafty windows with plastic.
  • Install storm windows and doors, and replace any weather-stripping or caulking that may be damaged.
  • Keep windows and doors shut tight.
  • Open shades or curtains to let the sun warm your home.

Summer Cooling

  • Turn the thermostat to 80 degrees or higher when you are sleeping or away from home. Raising the temperature by 5 degrees for eight hours can reduce your cooling costs by 3-5 percent.
  • Look for an air conditioning unit that is ENERGY STAR approved.
  • Avoid creating unnecessary heat and humidity in the house during summer days. Plan to do heat and moisture-creating activities such as washing dishes, doing laundry, bathing, and cooking before noon or after 8 p.m.
  • Do not use humidifiers or evaporator coolers with the air conditioner.
  • Limit the amount of time you run kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans. Only run them for as long as it takes to get rid of any odors to minimize losing cool air.
  • If you use a window air conditioning unit, make sure it fits correctly into the window to reduce the amount of cool air lost.
  • Make sure your air-conditioners are clean. Washing the outside coils and clearing high grass and debris will prevent blockage of the air-flow.
  • Consider using a window fan which requires as little as 1/10 the amount of energy needed to run an air conditioner.
  • Keep windows and doors shut tight.
  • During the day, block the heat from the sun by closing windows, doors, and curtains.
  • Use a microwave oven, toaster oven, or slow-cooker to cook smaller meals. Keep the burners and reflectors on your oven clean so that they will reflect heat better and use energy more efficiently.
  • Keep the oven door shut while cooking. Each time you open the oven the temperature decreases 25-75 degrees.
  • Set out frozen food to defrost or use the microwave instead of running it under hot water.

Refrigerators and Freezers

  • Minimize opening and closing your refrigerator and freezer. Every time you open it, cool air will rush out and be replaced with warm air, causing the refrigerator to run more to stay cool.
  • Keep your freezer stocked. Food retains cold temperatures, meaning that a full freezer will be more efficient than an empty one.
  • If you do not have a frost-free model, defrost the freezer periodically to ensure the frost does not accumulate more than ¼ inch.
  • Check the gasket or seal in your refrigerator door to make sure it fits properly. A loose gasket will cause cold air to leak out of your refrigerator.
  • Keep condenser coils on the back of your refrigerator and freezer clean.
  • Get rid of any old refrigerators or freezers you may be keeping for extra food storage. These appliances can cost between $100-150 per year to run.

Water Heaters

  • Set the water heater thermostat to the warm setting or 120 degrees. If you will be away from your home, turn the thermostat down even more. This will avoid using energy to reheat the same water while you are not there.
  • Repair leaking faucets. Warm-water leaks should be given immediate attention because they can raise your electric consumption rapidly.
  • Drain your hot water tank regularly to remove sediment.

Dishwashers and Clothes Washers/Dryers

  • Only run the dishwasher when it is full, and load the dishwasher properly to ensure efficient water circulation. You can save even more water by scraping dishes instead of pre-rinsing them before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • Use the air-dry setting on your dishwasher. Using the heat-dry setting can also heat the kitchen, causing the air conditioner to run more.
  • Run the clothes washer with a full load, match the water level to the size of the load, and use a minimum amount of detergent. Each load of laundry uses approximately 50 gallons of water.
  • Only use hot water to wash clothes that are very dirty. Clothes that are dirty from everyday wear can be cleaned using warm or cold water.
  • Buy a front-loading washer which uses 1/3 less water than top loading models.
  • Be sure to clean your dryer’s lint filter after each use to make sure the dryer is running efficiently.
  • When drying clothes, do not overfill the dryer and use the automatic setting if available. Dry loads back-to-back if possible.
  • Ensure that the outside clothes dryer air vent is well-sealed.
  • Use at night. Using dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers at night will keep the house cooler and reduce strain on the power grid during the peak usage hours of 4 PM and 6 PM and reduce the chance of an emergency.

Lighting and other Electrical Equipment

  • Turn off lights, TVs, and other equipment when you leave a room. You'll save electricity and generate less heat, meaning the air conditioner will run less.
  • Use power strips. Even when turned off, electronic and other home office equipment can continue to consume electricity when plugged into the wall. Shutting off power at a power strip will eliminate this standby electricity consumption.
  • Don't leave bathroom or kitchen ventilation fans running longer than necessary, they replace inside air with outside air.

Home Computers

  • Use power management tools. Set monitors and computers to switch to sleep mode when idle for more than a few minutes. This will not only use less energy, but will run cooler and reduce the need to run air-conditioning. Turn machines completely off at a power strip when not in use.
  • Take short showers instead of baths. Baths use 5-15 more gallons of water than showers.
  • Save water by installing a low-flow showerhead and limiting your shower time to five minutes.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and use only a partially filled sink to rinse your razor while shaving.
  • Use a nozzle on your hose to shut off or adjust the spray to fit the amount of water you need to use when you water the lawn or wash your car.
  • Mow your lawn using a higher lawn mower setting. Having longer grass will allow less evaporation and keep your lawn more hydrated.
  • Try not to over-water your lawn and make sure to prevent water evaporation by watering the lawn in the morning or evening.
  • Use a broom to clean your sidewalk and driveway instead of water from the hose.
  • Plant drought-resistant landscaping and rain gardens and use mulch to conserve moisture in your yard.
  • Install rain barrels on your gutter downspouts to catch storm water for use in watering the lawn and washing your car.

Reduce lighting costs

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use 75 percent less electricity, produce 90% less heat, and can last 10 times as long.
  • Make sure bulbs do not exceed the recommended wattage indicated on the light socket.
  • One larger wattage bulb is more efficient than two smaller wattage bulbs.
  • Directed light, such as for reading, is more efficient than brightly lighting an entire room.
  • Clean light bulbs regularly.

Install and use a programmable thermostat

  • Set the thermostat to raise the temperature during the day during the summer when you're not home and to cool the house down before you arrive home and vice versa during the winter. Properly used, a programmable thermostat can save 10-20% of your energy use.

Stop Leaks

  • Increase the comfort of your home while reducing your bills by investing in proper insulation and weatherization products. Reduce air leaks and increase the efficiency of your home by caulking, sealing, and weather-stripping all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. Check with the Insulation Contractors Association of America to make sure your home meets current insulation recommendations.
  • Check your ducts to see if there are any leaks and seal them with mastic tape if needed. Caulk and weather-strip doors, windows, and pipe clearances. You can save as much as 10% on cooling costs relatively inexpensively by sealing these leaks.

Properly size and maintain your air conditioner

  • Ensure that your HVAC system is properly sized for your home and correctly installed. Bigger is not always better.
  • At the beginning of cooler or warmer weather have a professional come out to inspect your HVAC system.
  • Have your duct system checked for air leaks and proper insulation.
  • Consider installing a "whole house fan" to improve circulation and ventilation throughout your home.
  • Outside air conditioning units or condensers should be shaded.
  • Check air filters once a month and replace at least every three months as dirty filters make your system run and work harder than necessary. If your air-conditioner is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model that can use up to 40% less energy than older models.

Ventilate and insulate the attic

  • Proper ventilation reduces the temperature and moisture buildup which can cause the air conditioner to work harder. Proper insulation with high R-value insulation will keep more cool air in the house.

Add shade

  • A properly landscaped home can significantly reduce your household energy consumption for heating and cooling. Consult your local nursery for information on trees and shrubbery that can serve as shade in the summer and wind blocks in the winter. You should consider mature size, growth rate, strength, and brittleness before planting.

Consider energy cost when buying new appliances

  • When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy and water it uses. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. The money you save on your utility bills can more than make up for the cost of a more expensive but more efficient ENERGY STAR model.
  • Consider a tankless water heater, they are 35% to 45% more efficient and you will never run out of hot water.

Improve your windows

  • If your home has single pane windows, consider replacing them with more energy efficient windows, or adding solar shades or tinting film.