66 Ways to Save
Kitchen and Laundry Savings
Kitchen and laundry appliances can be some of the biggest energy users in your home. Follow these energy-saving tips to reduce the impact on your bill.
Did you know each little "peek" to check on your food inside a conventional oven costs you money? Your oven temperature falls every time you open the door. Here are some other things you should know about saving energy while cooking.
- A microwave oven is an extremely energy-efficient alternative to a conventional oven. Not only does it cook food faster, it uses 70-80% less electricity.
- Use pots and pans that are properly sized to your stove's burners. Using a small pan on a large burner wastes energy and can be a safety hazard. Always select cookware with flat bottoms and tight covers.
- When preparing a meal in your oven, choose foods that are cooked at about the same temperature. That way your oven can cook several dishes at the same time.
Refrigerators and Freezers
Like other appliances that heat and cool, refrigerators and freezers are big energy users-plus, they have to be on all the time. Here are some ways you can reduce the amount of energy they draw.
- If you're buying a new refrigerator, look for one with an ENERGY STAR® label. They are at least 20% more efficient than new conventional models, and up to 40% more efficient than older conventional models sold before 2001.
- Make sure the seals on your refrigerator and freezer fit tightly. Leaks can allow cool air to escape, forcing your refrigerator to use more energy to keep food cold. Test the seal by closing the door over a piece of paper (position the paper so that it's half in and half out of the refrigerator). If you can pull the paper out easily the door latch may need to be adjusted, or the seal may need to be replaced.
- Vacuum and clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator twice a year. Make sure to leave space between the refrigerator and surrounding walls to allow air to circulate so the unit can cool more efficiently. (Search online for directions on how to clean the coils on your specific brand.)
- If possible, be sure to place your refrigerator away from appliances that generate heat, such as ovens and dishwashers. Being near hot appliances will requires the refrigerator to work much harder to cool.
- Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Check temperature settings by placing a thermometer inside the appliance for one hour. Refrigerator temperatures should be 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit and freezer temperature should be 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Believe it or not, washing dishes by hand more is NOT more efficient than using a dishwasher. Hand washing usually requires more hot water. So go ahead and use your dishwasher-and follow these guidelines to save energy at the same time.
- ENERGY STAR®-qualified dishwashers are 41% more efficient than conventional dishwashers, using less energy and less water than conventional models. Based on the average of four cycles per week, electric hot water customers can save up to $230 in electric costs over the life of their dishwasher with an ENERGY STAR product.
- When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for models that require less hot water. Dishwashers differ in the number of gallons of hot water used in the wash cycle. Using a new ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwasher instead of hand washing dishes can save nearly 5,000 gallons of water per year. The manufacturer's specifications or the Energy Guide label should list this information.
- Take advantage of the energy-saving controls on many dishwashers. For example, set your dishwasher to turn off the heat during the drying cycle. You can also open the dishwasher after the rinse cycle to let the dishes air dry.
Using a clothesline instead of a dryer is the most obvious way to save energy when doing laundry. Here are some other tips you can try.
- Checking the Modified Energy Factor (MEF) information on the label. The higher the MEF, the more efficient the clothes washer.
- Up to 90% of the energy your washer uses is for heating the water. However, today's detergents are formulated to work just as well in cold water. Reserve hot water for heavily soiled loads only.
- Front-loading washers are more energy-efficient when compared to traditional top-loading clothes washers. They are also far more gentle and effective on your clothes.
- If you're in the market for a new clothes dryer, consider purchasing one with a moisture-sensing device that automatically shuts off the dryer when your clothes are dry.
- Clean your dryer's lint filter after every load to improve air circulation and efficiency. Lint buildup blocks air flow and lengthens drying time.
- For greater efficiency, only run the washer and dryer when you have a full load of laundry.
Hot Water Savings
Using hot water efficiently can add up to big savings. Learn how to reduce the amount of hot water you use and how to boost the efficiency of your hot water heater.
Did you know that electric hot water heaters are the second largest energy user in the home? Even if your water heater is oil- or gas-fired, electricity is needed to run the circulator motor, which brings the hot water to your sink or shower.
- If you have an automatic dishwasher, lower your hot water heater setting to 120-140 degrees. Your dishwasher will still run effectively.
- Repair leaky faucets promptly. A leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time. A small drip can be the equivalent of wasting a bathtub full of hot water each month.
- Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. To save energy, take short showers instead of baths. Any hot water you can save not only reduces your energy bill for heating the water, but reduces your water bill as well.
- Lower your water heater temperature to 120° F (or set to "warm"). You may save even more energy by wrapping an older water heater in a special insulation blanket. If your water heater is warm to the touch, additional insulation may be needed.
Upgrading your lighting is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to reduce your energy costs.
Believe it or not, lighting accounts for about 12% of your home's electric use. However, it's one area where small changes can have a big impact.
- Use lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs or compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) to reduce the amount of energy needed for lighting by 75% or more, while still getting the same amount of light. These newer bulbs can last six to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs. Although efficient bulbs cost a bit more, they pay for themselves by saving energy over their lifetime.
- Always look for the ENERGY-STAR® label when purchasing lighting products.
- Consider installing timers or occupancy sensors to turn off the lights when you leave a room. Use motion detectors outdoors to save energy while also providing a high degree of security.
- Three-way lamps make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not needed. Dimmers can vary the level of illumination according to how much light you may need.
- Use fluorescent fixtures with reflective backing and electronic ballasts for your workroom, garage, and laundry areas. They're more efficient and they provide better illumination.
- Use LED holiday lights to decorate your home. LED holiday lighting comes in a variety of festive styles and colors, uses up to 96% less energy, and operate at a cooler temperature than standard holiday lights.
Home and Consumer Electronics Savings
In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This is called phantom load or standby power.
Any device that instantly comes on when you touch it is drawing power all the time-even when it appears to be off. Here are some ways you can counter the added energy draw from electronics.
- To find phantom loads, turn off all lights at night and look for any LED lights or other "glows" in the house. Remember that any device that requires resetting after a blackout or power surge generates a phantom load.
- Avoid leaving charging units plugged in when they are not being used. Plug your battery charging devices or power adapters into a power strip that you can easily shut off with a toggle switch.
- Turn off electronics, such as personal computers, monitors, copiers, printers, and fax machines, when they are not in use.
- When purchasing new equipment, consider multifunctional devices that can perform a number of operations, such as a printer/fax machine/copier combo.
- Ink jet printers can be as much as 90% more efficient than laser printers.
- Consider using a laptop instead of a traditional desktop computer. Laptops use less energy.
- Remember that ENERGY STAR®-labeled computers and monitors can save energy, but only when the power management features are activated. Read your manuals for more information.
- Always be sure to turn off the TV when no one is watching.
- Consider plugging your DVD player and other video components into an advanced "smart" power strip, so that when the TV is turned off, the other components will turn off too.
- When shopping for a high-definition TV (HDTV), consider getting a liquid crystal display (LCD) model. It can cut your TV power usage by approximately 50% compared to a plasma screen model.
- If you have a home office, remember that ENERGY STAR-qualified office and imaging products use 60% less electricity than conventional electronic products.
Heating and Cooling Savings
Taking a "whole house" approach to temperature control can help you save money.
Even if you don't have electric heat, keep in mind that all heating systems need electricity to run, whether it's a fan for forced-hot air systems or a circulator for hot water units.
- An energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using a "whole-house approach" to heating. By combining proper equipment maintenance with appropriate insulation, weather stripping, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy use for heating and reduce environmental emissions.
- Check the filters in your forced-hot air heating system monthly and replace or clean them when they become dirty.
- Have your heating system checked periodically by a properly trained and licensed professional.
- Properly insulate walls, ceilings, floors, hot air ducts, and hot water pipes to significantly reduce heat loss.
- Home humidifiers can make your home more comfortable in the winter. That's because dry air makes you feel colder than moist air at the same temperature. Maintaining home humidity will produce personal comfort at a lower thermostat setting.
- Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat to automatically raise and lower the temperature in your home according to your lifestyle. You can save up to 18% on your yearly heating and cooling costs by keeping your heating thermostat at the lowest temperature comfortable for you.
- Storm windows and doors are big energy and money savers. They can reduce heating costs by as much as 15%. Double-glazed and thermopane windows, or even clear plastic across windows, can also minimize heat escape.
- Caulking and weather stripping cracks in walls and floors, windows, and doors will save fuel, electricity, and money.
- Keep the fireplace damper tightly closed when not in use.
- Avoid portable electric heaters whenever possible. They are extremely costly to operate.
- Let the sunlight in! Open curtains, blinds, and shades over windows facing the sun to help keep your home warm.
- Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed. Make sure they aren't blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
Cooling your home uses more energy (and energy dollars) than any other "comfort system" in your home. You can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment.
- Ensure that the size of your central air conditioning system is correct for the amount of square footage that needs to be cooled. Properly-sized units also help keep the humidity down, making for a more comfortable and efficiently cooled room.
- If you have central air conditioning, regular maintenance is essential. Keep the condenser unit coils and fins clean. Remove grass, leaves, and other debris that may collect on them. Keep shrubbery away from your air conditioner. It can block vents and reduce the unit's ability to exhaust air.
- Regular maintenance will ensure that your room air conditioner operates efficiently throughout the summer. Check the filter once a month by holding it up to a bright light. If you cannot see through it, it's time to clean or replace the filter. Also, check your owner's guide to find out how to safely clean the condenser coils and fins on the outside of the unit.
- Seal spaces around the air conditioner with caulking to prevent cool air from escaping and hot air from entering.
- Fans can make your air conditioner's job easier. Pedestal and ceiling fans improve the air circulation in your home, allowing you to raise the air conditioner's thermostat.
- When it's not too hot, consider using portable or ceiling fans instead of air conditioners.
- Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are most effective when operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside.
- To stay comfortable during the hottest hours of the day, do your cooking, ironing, laundry, and bathing in the early morning or late evenings. These activities all increase the level of humidity in your home, making it feel hotter. Your home will stay cooler by using heat-generating appliances in the early morning or late evening, when the outside temperature is lower.
- Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans as soon as they are no longer needed after cooking or bathing. This type of fan removes cooled air from your home.
- Of course, always look for ENERGY STAR®-labeled appliances. In addition, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) on air conditioning units for optimum efficiency and lower cooling bills.
- Storm windows keep cool air in and hot air out. Weather-stripping and caulking windows and doors will also keep cool air from leaking out and hot air from entering.
- The temperature in your attic can reach 150 degrees on hot summer days. Improving the ventilation in your attic will lower the temperature of the entire house and make your air conditioner's job much easier.
- Depending on the size of your home, you can save three percent on your cooling costs for every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer. Raising the thermostat from 73 to 78 degrees can equal savings of up to 15% in cooling costs.
- Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you first turn on your air conditioner. This will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling at an additional expense, as the unit will need to work harder.
- Consider where your window air conditioning unit will be installed, and look for a unit that will direct air in the right direction.
- The size and location of your room air conditioners has a lot to do with how efficient they will be. Try to place your units on the north, east, or the best-shaded side of your home. A unit exposed to direct sunlight has to work much harder and use more energy to cool your home. Consult the chart below for proper sizing.
|Area To Be Cooled (square feet)*||Capacity Needed (BTUs per hour)|
|100 up to 150||5,000|
|150 up to 250||6,000|
|250 up to 300||7,000|
|300 up to 350||8,000|
|350 up to 400||9,000|
|400 up to 450||10,000|
|450 up to 550||12,000|
|550 up to 700||14,000|
|700 up to 1,000||18,000|
|1,000 up to 1,200||21,000|
|1,200 up to 1,400||23,000|
|1,400 up to 1,500||24,000|
|1,500 up to 2,000||30,000|
|2,000 up to 2,500||34,000|
*To determine the area to be cooled, simply multiply the length of the room by the width of the room. A
10 foot by 10 foot room is 100 square feet, so it would require a 5000 BTU unit.
You should make adjustments the BTU size if any of the following apply in your home:
- If the room is heavily shaded, reduce the BTU capacity by 10%
- If the room is very sunny, increase the BTU capacity by 10%
- If more than two people regularly occupy the room, add 600 BTUs for each additional person
- If the unit is used in a kitchen, increase the capacity needed by 4,000 BTUs