Energy Saving Tips

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An energy-efficient home will keep your family comfortable while saving you money. Whether you take simple steps or make larger investments to make your home more efficient, you’ll see lower energy bills. Over time, those savings will typically pay for the cost of improvements and put money back in your pocket. Your home may also be more attractive to buyers when you sell.

Take a look at our Watt Watcher’s Guide (PDF) for a list of common appliances and their average costs.

For more energy saving questions, contact our Energy Efficiency Services Team at (360) 501-9514 or (800) 631-1131.

No Cost Options

There are many no-cost options to lower your energy use and reduce your energy bill. Here are a few ideas to give you a jump start on saving energy now.

  • Lower your thermostat when you go to bed or when you’re not home. Use a programmable thermostat, so it’s automatic. Every degree lowered can decrease the heating portion of your energy bill by 2 percent.
  • Make it a habit to shut off lights, computers and other devices when you’re not using them.
  • Close your fireplace damper when there’s no fire. Leaving it open is like having a 48-inch-square hole in your house.
  • Set your water heater at 120º F., which is comfortable for most uses. Turn your water heater temperature down or set to vacation mode if you’re going to be away from your home for more than a week.
  • Run only full loads in your dishwasher and clothes washers, and wash clothes in cold water.
  • Air-dry your dishes or use the air-dry feature on your dishwasher. Use a clothesline to dry clothes when weather permits.
  • Use kitchen and bathroom fans to reduce moisture in the home as needed.
  • In the winter, open south facing drapes and blinds during the day to let heat in and close all window drapes and blinds at night.
  • Unplug laptop or cell phone battery chargers when not in use. Many draw power continuously, even when the device is not plugged into the charger.
  • Set your refrigerator between 36 – 39º F.
  • Clean lint out of refrigerator coils and out of clothes dryers frequently to increase efficiency.
  • Use a microwave or toaster oven for cooking and heating small portions.
  • Use zonal-heat (baseboard, ceiling or wall heat) to your advantage by only heating rooms that are in use.
  • Consider using jugs of water to occupy the empty spaces in your fridge. It takes more energy to cool an empty fridge than a full one.

Low Cost Options

There are many low-cost ways to lower your energy use and reduce your energy bill. These tips can have a wide range of costs up to about $100. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Weatherstrip your windows and doors to reduce winter heat loss and summer heat gain.
  • Check and replace your air filters every month to improve air quality, reduce heating and cooling costs, and improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
  • Consider using a “Smart” strip for your electronics or home entertainment center to reduce phantom load. These strips work hard to reduce your energy use by shutting down power to products that go into standby mode.
  • Switch to LED light bulbs. They use a fifth of the energy used by regular bulbs.
  • Insulate outlets and light switches to reduce heat loss and keep you more comfortable in your home.
  • Install energy efficient showerheads to reduces the amount of hot water used without compromising your comfort.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioning to stay cool on warm days. This can be more cost-effective than cooling your entire home because they target a specific area.

Smart Investments

From heating and cooling to electronics and appliances, it takes a lot of energy to power our daily lives. Making a smart investment in efficiency now could pay off big over time, increase your comfort, and lower your energy bills.

  • Install a programmable thermostat for your heating system. This allows you to control how often your heating systems run and in return reducing your energy use.
  • Maintain your heating system by scheduling regular preventative maintenance to keep your furnace and air conditioner operating at optimal performance. This is a great energy-saving decision every homeowner should consider.
  • Inadequate home insulation can drive your energy costs through the roof. Making sure your home has adequate insulation can be the single most effective way to save energy.
  • Leaky ducts can lose up to 20% of heated or cooled air before it reaches your living space. To reduce energy waste, make sure that ductwork is sealed properly and hire a professional if you are unable to seal leaks yourself.
  • Water heating is typically one of the largest users of energy in your home besides heating and cooling. Upgrade your water heater to a heat pump water heater and save up to 50% in water heating costs. Make sure you contact Energy Efficiency Services about possible rebates.
  • Consider replacing old appliances with ones that are Energy Star® rated and compare the yellow Energy Guide label across different models.
    • Replace old refrigerators and freezers with new Energy Star® rated models. Since these appliances run 24 hours a day, this investment could start saving you money and energy right away.
  • Consider going ductless and increase your comfort year round. Ductless heating and cooling systems are an affordable way to heat and cool your home for less. Talk to an Energy Efficiency Specialist to see if your home qualifies for a rebate.

Spring and Summer Specific Options

As spring and summer months start heating up, many of us look for ways to keep cool without breaking the bank. Consider adopting some of these tips to increase your comfort while saving some cash.

  • Block heat from entering your home in the warmer months by keeping your shades closed. Sunlight passing through windows heats your home and makes your air conditioner work harder.
  • Consider installing shade screens, awnings, or window film or blinds to prevent solar heat gain.
  • Hang laundry outside when weather permits. Not only does this save energy, but reduces the wear and tear on your clothes to help them last longer.
  • Switch to LED light bulbs. They use a fifth of the energy used by regular bulbs and keep your home cooler on warm days.
  • Well-placed trees and landscaping can help reduce heat gain and increase your comfort on warm days.
  • If you need to replace your window air conditioning unit, consider investing in an efficient Energy Star® certified unit. They typically use about 10% less energy than conventional models.
    • Make sure the unit you purchase is the right size for the area you are cooling; a unit that is too large will operate less efficiently.
    • Before cold weather hits, make sure to remove your unit from the window to help it last longer.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioning to stay cool on warm days. This can be more cost-effective than cooling your entire home because they target a specific area. It’s important to have the blades spinning in the right direction to improve cooling.
  • Seal air leaks inside and outside of your home to minimize heat gain. Make sure you check the label of the caulk and/or polyurethane foam for the appropriate uses and surfaces you plan to seal.
  • Raise your thermostat a few degrees during the Spring/Summer months. For each degree, you increase the temperature on your thermostat you can save 3–5% on your cooling costs. A good rule is to set the temperature at least 10 degrees higher in the spring and summer.
  • In the late evening and early morning, take advantage of ‘free’ cooling by opening doors and windows to generate a good cross-flow to flush your home with cooler outside air. This can quickly drop the temperature inside your home by a few degrees without any air conditioning. If you have an air conditioner, be sure to re-close your doors and windows later in the morning before the outdoor temperature starts to rise above the indoor temperature.

Fall and Winter Specific Options

Save energy and money during the cool fall and winter months by taking control of your energy use. Check out these energy tips to help reduce your energy use.

  • Add or repair weatherstripping on windows and doors to reduce heat loss and drafts.
  • Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan in colder weather. Running the fan in reverse pulls the warm air off the ceiling and disperses it throughout the room.
  • Check your air filters every month to improve air quality, reduce heating costs, and improve the efficiency of your heating system. Be sure to change the filters regularly to keep the system running properly.
  • If you have a programmable thermostat, program it to automatically change to the temperature at set times for each day. Temperature is a personal/household decision, but the U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat to 68 while you are awake and at home and lower it while you’re asleep or away from home.
  • Take advantage of winter sunlight by opening your shades, allowing for natural light and capturing the warmth from the sun.
  • Keep furniture, drapes, carpets, and other objects from blocking the vents or registers. Blocked wall/baseboard heaters or register vents prevent heated air from circulating freely around the room and may cause your heating system to work harder and prevents rooms from warming up to the set temperature on the thermostat.
  • Lower your thermostat when using your fireplace and close the damper when not in use.
  • Holiday lighting can increase your energy bill, so consider using LED holiday lighting instead of standard incandescent bulbs. They use less energy, stay cooler to reduce the risk of fire and injury, and last longer.