How energy efficient are you?
It doesn't take much energy to learn how to use energy wisely. Let us help you find low-cost and no-cost ways to be a Smart Saver.Lighting
Heating and Cooling
- To save up to $27 a year, change your five most-used light bulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. The more bulbs you change, the more you'll save.
- Use light-colored, loose-weave curtains on windows to allow daylight to filter in while maintaining privacy.
- Three-way lamps make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary.
- Use task lighting. Focus the light where you need it so you are not brightly lighting an entire room.
- Turn off lights when they are not in use. Consider using timers to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
- Use dimmers, motion sensors or occupancy sensors to automatically turn on or off lighting as needed.
- Use ENERGY STAR qualified light fixtures and bulbs.
- During the winter, open the curtains on your south-facing windows on sunny days to allow the sun to naturally heat your home.
- Close the curtains and drapes at night to retain the heat.
- See the Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) Fact Sheet (PDF, 120K) for answers to frequently asked questions about CFLs and the proper disposal of them.
Appliances and Electronics
- To save up to 12% on your energy bill, use a programmable thermostat.
- Save up to $45 a year by adjusting your thermostat - up two degrees in the summer; down two degrees in the winter.
- Save $50 a year by having your HVAC system professionally inspected.
- Clean or replace furnace filters every 30 days. (The day you receive your bill from us can serve as a good reminder that it's time to clean or replace the filter on your furnace.)
- Clean registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed. Be sure to move furniture, carpeting or drapes so they are not blocking the registers, heaters or radiators.
- Your HVAC contractor should be able to provide fact sheets for various models so you can compare energy usage. While the national Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is 78% for furnaces, some ENERGY STAR models exceed 90% AFUE.
- Fans help circulate the air in your home. Moving air makes you feel cooler, so you can set your thermostat at a higher temperature during the summer and still feel comfortable.
- Turn off fans in rooms not in use. Fans are effective at cooling you - not the room. Close the curtains and drapes at night to retain the heat.
- Use exhaust or ventilation fans in your kitchen or bathroom only as long as you need them to do the job. Don't allow them to continue to run for longer than 20 minutes or so.
- Insulate your hot water heater to prevent heat loss. You may also want to insulate the hot water pipes in your home.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR label when replacing your HVAC equipment.
Insulation and Air Sealing
- Most appliances continue to draw small amounts of power even when they are turned off. This "phantom" energy occurs in almost all appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereo equipment, computers, kitchen appliances and telephones with answering machines. Avoid this "phantom" energy usage by unplugging the appliance when it is not in use or using a power strip to turn off the appliance(s) when not in use.
- Screen savers on computer monitors are not energy savers. The best energy-saving strategy is to set the computer to automatically switch to sleep mode or manually turn off the computer and monitor when it is not in use.
- Make sure the power management settings are activated on your computer(s). ENERGY STAR® qualified computers and monitors save energy only when the power management settings are activated.
- Unplug rechargeable battery and cell phone chargers when not in use.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR label when shopping for home appliances and electronics. It's the government's seal of energy efficiency.
- TVs and DVD players still use energy even when in standby mode. Plug these electronics into power strips and turn them on only when you plan to use them.
- Air dry your dishes instead of using the dishwasher's drying cycle.
- Wash clothes in cold or warm water; always rinse in cold water. Line dry clothes on clothes lines or drying racks.
- Inspect your clothes dryer's vent to ensure it is not blocked. Not only will you save energy, but you may also prevent a fire.
- Clean the lint filter in your clothes dryer after every load. This improves air circulation.
- Wash and dry only full loads of clothes. Don't forget to adjust your washer's water level if you wash smaller loads.
- Use your microwave, outdoor grill or crock pot to prepare dinner instead of the oven or stove to prevent heat build up in your kitchen.
- Caulk and weather strip your doors and windows to help keep the warm or cool air you pay to heat/cool inside your home so you will save energy and money.
- Caulking should be soft and without cracks for optimum performance.
- Use trees, shrubs or awnings at your windows to shade from the outside to avoid the heat of the sun during the summer. In the winter, remove the awnings and trim the trees and shrubs during the winter to take advantage of the sun's rays to warm your home.
- Use draft stoppers at doors and windows.
- Improve your home's energy performance by installing new energy-efficient windows. You may realize personal benefits from improved aesthetics and comfort even though it may take years to pay off the financial investment in overall energy savings.
- If you make the decision to install new windows, make sure they are installed correctly by a qualified professional.
- In the summer, close curtains on the south and west facing windows during the hottest part of the day. Consider applying sun-control or reflective film to prevent the intense summer heat from entering your home.
- Reflect heat away from your house by installing white window shades, drapes or blinds.
- If you cannot make the financial investment to install new energy-efficient windows, make any necessary repairs to your existing windows to improve their efficiency.
- Install tight-fitting window shades on drafty windows once you have weatherized them. For a low-cost measure, use heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets on the window frames during the winter. Tightly sealed plastic will reduce air infiltration.
- Get an energy analysis. Find out where the common sources of air leaks are within your home.
- To test for air leaks on your own, hold a burning candle next to your outside windows and doors on a windy day. If the flame flickers, there is an air leak present that needs to be sealed.
- Make sure you have adequate insulation in your home.
- Close fireplace dampers when the fireplace is not in use.
- Put extra blankets on your bed.
- You have probably heard that heat rises. That said, air at the floor level is cooler than the air at the ceiling, so always wear socks and/or shoes in your home during the winter.
- Take short showers instead of baths.
- Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120° F.
- Buy a new energy-efficient water heater. It may cost a bit more initially, but the energy savings will continue throughout the lifetime of the water heater. Look for ENERGY STAR models.
- Wash only full loads of clothes or dishes.
- Install faucet aerators or low-flow faucets and shower heads.
- If heating your family's swimming pool, purchase a swimming pool cover to prevent evaporation of the heated water.
- Remember that insulation and sealing air leaks can help improve your home's energy performance in the summer as well as the winter because they help you keep the cool air you have paid to cool inside your home.
- Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but do not block the airflow. Place a room air conditioner on the north side of the house. A unit that operates in the shade uses less energy than one operating in the sun.
- Do not place lamps or electronic equipment, such as a TV set near your home's thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than it needs to.
- Use a fan even when your air conditioner is running so you can spread the cooled air more effectively throughout your home without having to adjust the thermostat.
- Adjust your home's thermostat up two degrees in the summer.
- Whole-house fans can help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air out through the attic. Whole-house fans are effective primarily when they are operated at night because that is typically when the outside air is cooler than the inside.
- Keep curtains, drapes and blinds closed during the hottest part of the day to prevent the sun's rays from heating your home.
- Open drapes, blinds and curtains during the day to allow the sunlight to enter and warm your home. Close them at night to prevent the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Adjust your thermostat down two degrees in the winter.
- Weatherize your home — caulk and weather strip doors and windows that may leak air.
- Properly maintain and clean your home's heating equipment.
- Replace furnace filters every 30 days or so. Use the day you receive your bill from us as a reminder that it's time to clean or replace your furnace filter.
- Check and, if necessary, add insulation, especially in your attic and the exterior and basement walls or crawl spaces in your home.
- Keep fireplace doors and dampers closed when the fireplace is not in use.
- Add blankets to your bed.
- Wear socks and/or shoes in your home during the winter to help you feel warmer.