These low- and no-cost tips can help you save energy and money. From lighting, to your hot water heater, to air leaks and insulation, read on to learn how you can make your home as energy efficient as possible.
- Always turn off the lights when leaving a room.
- Install timers, sensors or other controls that automatically turn off the lights when you leave.
- Install dimmers to save electricity when light levels can be lowered. Before installing, check that the dimmers are compatible with the light bulbs you want to use.
- Purchase ENERGY STAR qualified LEDs (light emitting diodes) when buying new light bulbs, and replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs in frequently used areas. Compare and contrast different light bulbs with this quick reference guide.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR logo when buying electronics and save 10 to 50 percent compared to standard electronics.
- Set your computer's power management options so that it enters sleep mode after 30 minutes (or less) of inactivity.
- Phantom load refers to power consumed by devices that appear to be off but are still sucking electricity from outlets. Phantom load, or vampire load, can account for up to 10 percent of a home's electricity consumption. You can identify many of these devices by their glowing, standby LED lights. Reduce or eliminate phantom load with one of the following activities:
- Turn off and unplug equipment when not in use.
- Using a conventional power strip, turn power off to all devices plugged into the strip at one time.
- Use a smart strip to automatically disconnect power based on occupancy, a timer or a "master" appliance. This works well for offices and entertainment systems.
HOT WATER, KITCHEN & LAUNDRY
- Look for the yellow EnergyGuide label showing estimated annual energy use and operating costs when purchasing new appliances or electronics.
- Look for the WaterSense logo when purchasing plumbing fixtures to save 20 percent or more water than comparable, conventional products.
- Install low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads.
- Lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Each 10 degree reduction in water heater temperature saves three to five percent in energy costs. Use the vacation setting or turn the temperature down further if you'll be out of the house for extended periods.
- If the pipes leaving your water heater are uninsulated, cover them with pipe insulation.
- A full refrigerator retains cold better than an empty one, so if you have a secondary refrigerator that holds just a few items, stock it with jugs of water. Better yet, recycle that refrigerator. A 15- to 20-year old refrigerator can use twice as much electricity as a newer, more efficient model.
- Turn off your refrigerator's automatic ice-maker to save 15 to 20 percent on energy. If your ice-maker does not have an on/off switch, lift the metal arm to the "up" position.
- The majority of energy used by washing machines goes to heating water. Using warm water instead of hot can cut energy use in half. Using cold water with a cold-water detergent can mean even greater savings.
HEATING & COOLING
- Dirty filters make heating and cooling systems less efficient, meaning they use more energy to achieve the same results. Clean or replace filters regularly. Check your owner's manual for guidance.
- Keep vents, radiators or baseboard heaters clean to help them deliver conditioned air more efficiently. Be sure that they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.
- Install a programmable thermostat to automatically control the temperature of your home based on a set schedule. You can also adjust the thermostat manually when you leave the house. Turning the temperature up in the summer and down in the winter when you won't be home saves on heating and cooling costs.
- Have your heating and cooling system professionally checked on an annual basis. Your system will perform better and last longer with proper maintenance.
- Ceiling fans can make rooms feel more comfortable without the need to adjust the temperature. In the summer, spin fans counterclockwise to push air straight down. In the winter, spin fans slowly clockwise to move warm air around the room. Remember to turn fans off when rooms are unoccupied.
AIR LEAKS & INSULATION
In addition to saving energy and money, eliminating drafts will improve your comfort at home. Although some drafts can be felt with your hand, many are harder to detect. Visit our Thermal Camera Loan Program page to learn how to find hot and cold spots with a thermal camera. Once you've found your problem areas, here are some simple solutions to consider:
- Install foam socket sealers behind exterior wall outlets and switch plates to block potential air leaks.
- Install door sweeps on exterior doors to minimize air filtration.
- Add weatherstripping around windows and door frames to ensure there is a tight seal when closed.
- Caulk cracks and gaps that can be found in concrete, around joists or between a home and its foundation. Also caulk around openings to the outside such as plumbing pipes and electrical or cable wiring.
- Have a wood-burning fireplace? Once all embers are finished burning and the ashes are cold, the damper should be closed. You can also purchase a fireplace plug to seal up your chimney in the warmer months of the year.
- Inadequate or missing insulation is often "hidden" in attics, walls, ceilings and floors. A professional energy auditor can assess your home's insulation level and provide cost-effective recommendations. Refer to our Home Energy Assessment page for more information.