Energy Saving Tips


Energy Savings Photo- Light blub, calculator and pen.

There are many options to help you save energy at home — from free and easy steps to those that require more time and resources. Energy Action Fairfax has done the homework to help you make your home more energy efficient, with whatever resources you have.

Pick and choose steps that make sense for you in four areas: lighting, electronics and appliances, heating and cooling, and air leaks and insulation. Looking to make a dent in your energy use without investing too much time or money? Check out the steps in each area labeled as easy. Have a little more time or money to invest in reducing your energy consumption? Look at the medium level actions for ideas. Want to do even more to save energy at home? Take on the advanced steps in each area.

Lighting

LED light bulb

  • Switch to compact fluorescent (CFLs) or light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs and save money. CFLs use about 75 percent less energy and last six to 10 times longer than regular light bulbs. Check here for tips on lights that are right for your home. (Easy)
  • Put reminders on light switch plates to remind children (or yourself) to turn off lights when leaving a room. (Easy)
  • Install dimmers on indoor lights to give you more control over the brightness of your rooms and save electricity when lights are turned lower. Before installing, check that the light bulbs are compatible with the dimmers. (Medium)
  • Consider installing sensors on outdoor lights to save electricity when no one is present. (Medium)

See Lighting Frequently Asked Questions

Electronics and Appliances

Energy Star logo

  • Change the settings on your computer so that it enters sleep-mode after a few minutes of inactivity. If you’ll be away from your computer for a while, turn it off. (Easy)
  • To maximize energy savings, use power strips for phone chargers and other electronics. Then you only need to flip one switch when you’re done charging or using your electronics. (Easy)
  • Most of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating water. Using warm water instead of hot can cut energy use in half. Cold water can mean greater savings. (Easy)
  • To maximize your washing machine's efficiency, use the water setting that matches your laundry load size. (Easy)
  • An appliance thermometer can help you check the settings of your refrigerator and freezer. In general, refrigerators should be 35-38 degrees and freezers 5 degrees, refer to your owner's manual. (Easy)
  • Turn off your automatic ice maker and save 14 to 20 percent on your refrigerator's energy consumption. Check your owner's manual. Some ice makers have an on/off switch, if not you can simply lift the metal arm to the up position. (Easy)
  • To make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight, close the door over one-half of a piece of paper and then try to pull the paper out. If it comes out easily, you may need to adjust the latch or replace the seal to ensure air doesn't escape. (Medium)
  • Arrange to dispose of old secondary refrigerators, which might be using twice as much electricity as newer models. (Medium)
  • When shopping for new appliances and electronics, remember that they have two price tags — the purchase price and the lifetime operating cost. If yellow energy guide labels are available, compare energy efficiency information. Look for Energy Star-rated models to help keep operating costs down long-term. (Advanced)

See Electronics Frequently Asked Questions

Heating, Cooling and Water

Ceiling fan

  • When your fireplace is not in use, make sure the flue is closed. (Easy)
  • Try setting your thermostat down a few degrees in the winter and up a few in the summer. A programmable thermostat will help you stick to it. (Easy)
  • Lower your water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Each 10 degree reduction saves 3 to 5 percent in energy costs. Use the vacation setting if you’ll be out of the house for long periods of time. More water heater tips. (Easy)
  • Control the temperature of your home with a programmable thermostat, which can automatically adjust the temperature based on different time schedules. For example, during the winter months set it to lower the temperature during weekdays when your family is out and raise it on weekends when you're home. (Medium)
  • Clean any radiators, baseboard heaters or warm-air registers to help them deliver temperature-controlled air more efficiently. Be sure that they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes. (Medium)
  • Dirty filters make heating and cooling systems less efficient, using more energy for the same results. Clean or replace filters regularly (check your owner's manual for guidelines), especially during the hottest and coldest months. (Medium)
  • Have your heating and cooling system professionally checked annually. Your system will perform better and last longer with proper maintenance. (Medium)
  • Consider installing ceiling fans. Depending on the setting, fans can push cool or warm air down to make you more comfortable without raising or lowering the heat or air conditioning. Fans should spin clockwise in the winter and counterclockwise in the summer. For most fans, you can easily change the setting with a switch in the center of the fan on the motor cover. Remember to turn fans off when leaving rooms. (Advanced)
  • If your central air-conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an Energy Star-rated unit may cut cooling costs up to 30 percent. (Advanced)
  • If you have an electric water heater, you can insulate the water heater pipes so that the heat produced isn’t wasted. See instructions here. However, if you heater is gas or oil, you should hire a qualified plumbing and heating contractor. (Advanced)

See Heating and Cooling Frequently Asked Questions

Insulation and Air Leaks

insulation

  • Insert child-proof plugs into electrical outlets on exterior walls to reduce air flow from outside. (Easy)
  • Install foam gaskets behind electrical outlets and switch plates on walls. (Medium)
  • Install a door sweep to block air from coming under the door. (Medium)
  • Close-fitting, insulated drapes can keep drafts at bay and in the summer block the hot sun. (Medium)
  • If you aren’t able to upgrade your drafty, single-pane windows, attaching heavy-duty clear plastic sheeting during the winter can keep cold air out and warm air in. (Medium)
  • Install weatherstripping around windows and doors to seal air leaks and reduce drafts. Also, seal around electrical, cable and piping openings from the outside. You can seal the leaks yourself or hire a certified professional. Tips for hiring a contractor. (Advanced)
  • Poorly insulated attics and basements can send the energy you paid for out of your house. Make sure they are properly insulated to save energy and money. Learn more. (Advanced)
  • Drafts and energy leaks from your windows can increase your heating and cooling bills. To save on costs and improve your home's comfort, consider replacing single-pane windows with double-pane ones containing high-performance glass. (Advanced)

See Insulation and Air Leaks Do It Yourself Guide

See Air Leaks and Insulation Frequently Asked Questions

Assessing Home Energy Use

Home energy assessments (also called energy audits) can tell you how your home is performing, where there are inefficiencies and opportunities to save energy and money on your monthly utility bills. You can conduct a home energy assessment yourself or you can hire a professional. Tips for hiring a contractor.

See Assessing Home Energy Use Frequently Asked Questions


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