Making smart energy choices are key to a brighter future. Learning more about how to reduce your energy usage gives you the power to save for our community. There are many things you can begin doing today! Many are no-cost or low-cost items that can add up to make a significant difference in your energy and water consumption while making your home more comfortable.
- Weather-strip around doors and windows. You can dodge drafts by installing low-cost weather-strip around doors and windows.
- Raise the humidity/lower the temperature. If the air in your home becomes dry in the winter, you will require a higher thermostat setting to remain comfortable. Add moisture, lower the thermostat-you’ll be comfortable and save energy too.
- Adjust your water heater temperature so it is between 120-130degrees F. Wrapping your water heater with an insulation blanket will help reduce heat loss through the tank walls.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
- Open shades-let the sunlight in. Make the most of the sun’s warmth by opening your curtains, drapes, and blinds.
- Remove window air conditioners or seal around them.
- Install sealers at outlets and switches. If you feel cold air leaking through the electrical outlet or switch covers, seal them with inexpensive foam gaskets.
- Don’t let heat go up in smoke. If you’re not using your fireplace, close the damper.
- Maintain your furnace. Check the filter once a month and change if needed.
- Check your ducts. Ducts are usually out of sight, out of mind. Over time, ducts can become disjointed or loosen from the registers. Check your duct system, and if necessary, insulate and seal.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HEAT FROM THE SUN
- Set the air conditioner thermostat or control at the highest setting possible for comfort (78 degrees is usually a good temperature to try). You could have a 3% savings for every degree above your normal setting. Setting the thermostat on very low will not cool the house faster. Before work, or when you leave the house for at least four hours, turn the air conditioner 10 degrees higher or off. The system will run steadily for a period when turned back on, but it will use less energy than if it ran all day.
- Change, check or clean your air filters monthly. Don’t forget to keep the outside unit debris free.
- Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which will cause the unit to run longer.
- Plant trees or shrubs to shade your outdoor units, but make sure not to block airflow.
- Close drapes and shades during the day to keep the heat from the sun out. Especially on the south and west sides.
- Closing off air vents in unoccupied rooms can save you 5-10% on your cooling costs.
- Avoid activities that add heat or humidity to your home, particularly during the hottest part of the day.
- Seal any gaps along the sides of your room air conditioners with foam insulation. Your air conditioner will stay on much longer if the cool air is escaping.
- Consider using a dehumidifier instead of turning on the air conditioning. You will be comfortable at much higher temperatures by reducing the humidity.
- Whole house or attic fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. This also helps circulate fresh air through your home which gives you a greater air quality in which to live.
- Replace heat-producing incandescent light bulbs with cool, energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. (CFLs) CFLs produce the same amount of light as traditional bulbs but use about one-quarter of the energy.
Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
COVER DRAFTY WINDOWS
· Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
· Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
Find out about other window treatments and coverings
that can improve energy efficiency.
ADJUST THE TEMPERATURE
· When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
· When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat
can make it easy to set back your temperature.
Find out how to operate your thermostat
for maximum energy savings. Also see ENERGY STAR’s June 5, 2008, podcast
for video instructions on operating your programmable thermostat.
FIND AND SEAL LEAKS
· Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes (“plumbing penetrations”), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
Find out how to detect air leaks
Learn more about air sealing new
and existing homes.
· Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
Find out how to select and apply the appropriate caulk
Learn how to select and apply weatherstripping.
MAINTAIN YOUR HEATING SYSTEMS
· Schedule service for your heating system.
Find out what maintenance is required to keep your heating system operating efficiently.
· Furnaces: Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed.
Find out more about maintaining your furnace or boiler.
· Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters: Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.
Find other maintenance recommendations for wood- and pellet-burning appliances.
REDUCE HEAT LOSS FROM THE FIREPLACE
· Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up
· When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly–approximately 1 inch–and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
· If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
· If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
· Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
· Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate air.