Energy and Water Saving Tips

Help preserve our valuable (and ever-more precious) resources, as well as keep utility cost increases in check, by following these energy and water saving tips for your home or business.

No Cost Tips – Home

-Turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Don’t forget your computer – it can use as much energy as a refrigerator. Most new computers have “sleep” settings.

-In the cold months, set the thermostat to 68 degrees when home, and then back to 58 degrees when sleeping or when you are not home more than four hours.

-In warm months, set the thermostat to 78-80 degrees when home and 5 to 10 degrees warmer at night or when you’re not home.

-Do not turn your air conditioning off in the hot months when you’re not home. Your house will store up the heat and you’re likely to make the air conditioning run for hours to feel comfortable.

-In the winter, open blinds and drapes during the day to take advantage of free heat from the sun.

-In the warmer months close blinds and drapes during the day to keep heat out.

-In the warm months use your dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, and cook as late in the evening as possible.

-Barbecue outside if practical, keeping in mind the heat and effect of sun on your body. By reducing the heat coming into your home from any source, will reduce the load on your air conditioning.

-Use pool trippers to reduce the time your swimming pool pump runs on. Eight to twelve hours a day is plenty.

-Set your water heater to 120 degrees.

-Vacuum your refrigerator coils (underneath and in the back) and don’t obstruct the coils. They need air space to work.

-Keep the seals (gaskets) on refrigerators and freezers clean.

-Keep your freezer as full as possible. You can place containers or plastic bottles filled with water in the empty spaces.

-Make sure food is cool and covered before it goes into the refrigerator.

-Close doors and air-conditioning/heating vents in rooms that are not being used.

-Run full loads in your washer and dryer, and use “solar drying” (clotheslines).

-Use energy saver option on your dishwasher, allowing dishes to air dry.

-If your A/C unit is on the ground, keep the area around it clean and free of obstructions to maintain air flow.

-Unplug your appliances/televisions/computers/etc. when not in use. They draw power even when they’re turned off.

-Keep lights and lighting fixtures clean, especially if you’re reducing the number of lights you use. Dirt absorbs light. Let lights cool before cleaning them and never touch halogen bulbs with your bare hands. The oil from your skin can greatly damage the bulbs. Use a small piece of paper to hold the bulb.

-If your dishwasher has a filter clean it.

-Clean the reflectors underneath the burners on stovetops.

Low Cost Tips – Home

-Use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent ones. This will typically save $1 per bulb changed out (for bulbs running 4-6 hours per day) and reduce heat in your home. Regular bulbs use most of the electricity to generate heat so use care when changing bulbs.

-Caulk windows and caulk and weather-strip doors. Keep the outside air out and the inside air in.

-Install a hot water heater blanket but be careful not to cover vents or temperature settings.

-Install hot water pipe insulation. Do keep the insulation at least six inches away from the flue (exhaust pipe) of gas water heaters.

-Plant trees and shrubs on the south and west side of your residence. The vegetation acts as insulation and provides shading, reducing thermal gain in a building.

-Fix leaky faucets and install low flow showerheads.

-Use room fans to keep the air moving and reduce the feeling of heat in your home.

-Replace furnace and air conditioner filters. Spray the filters with a light coating of lemon furniture polish or vegetable oil cooking spray to help trap dirt in the filter.

-Check the seals on your refrigerator and freezer.

-Replace normal thermostats with programmable thermostats.

-Consider buying a cover for your pool to retain heat in the water

Added Cost Tips – Home

-Install floor and ceiling insulation: It is recommended to have a minimum of an R-30 – R-38 insulation in the attic and R19 insulation in the sub-floor.

-Replace inefficient and single pane windows with energy efficient multi pane, thermally broken framed windows.

-Replace appliances that are not energy efficient. All appliances have an Energy Guide Label that tells you how efficient it is and how much it will cost you to run. Often times, an appliance more than 10 years old is not likely to be energy efficient.

-Service your air conditioning and heating systems once a year, replacing them if necessary.

-Test and seal your ductwork. Not only does it improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, it makes the house more comfortable.

-Have ceiling fans installed in all bedrooms and your family room. They can make you more comfortable while allowing you to save money by adjusting your thermostat respectively.

-Add window screens or window films to reduce the solar energy from entering your home.

-Add a solar heater for the water in your swimming pool.

Summer

-In warm climates, where summertime heat gain is the main concern, look for windows with double glazing and spectrally selective coatings that reduce heat gain.

-If your air conditioner is old, consider purchasing a new, energy-efficient model. You could save up to 50% on your utility bill for cooling. Look for the ENERGY STAR and Energy Guide labels. Keep in mind that insulation and sealing air leaks will help your energy performance in the summertime by keeping the cool air inside.

-Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but not to block the airflow. Place your room air conditioner on the north side of the house. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.

-Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

-Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing your power use.

-Don’t set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.

-Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.

-Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside.

-For air conditioners, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The current minimum is 13 SEER for central air conditioners.

Winter

-During the colder months, keep the draperies and shades open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home.

-Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable when home. By resetting your programmable thermostat from 72 degrees to 65 degrees for eight hours a day (for instance, while no one is home or while everyone is tucked in bed) you can cut your heating bill by up to 10 percent.

-Weatherize your home—caulk and weatherstrip any doors and windows that leak air.

-Properly maintain and clean heating equipment.

-Replace furnace filters regularly.

-Check the insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces to see if it meets the levels recommended for your area.

Insulation and Air Sealing

-Remember that new windows must be installed correctly to avoid air leaks around the frame. Look for a reputable, qualified installer.

-In temperate climates with both heating and cooling seasons, select windows with both low U-values and low solar heat gain coefficiency (SHGC) to maximize energy benefits.

-In temperate climates with both heating and cooling seasons, select windows with both low U-values and low solar heat gain coefficiency (SHGC) to maximize energy benefits.

-Select windows with air leakage ratings of 0.3 cubic feet per minute or less.

-Remember, the lower the U-value, the better the insulation. In colder climates, a U-value of 0.35 or below is recommended. These windows have at least double glazing and a low-e coating.

-When you’re shopping for new windows, look for the National Fenestration Rating Council label; it means the window’s performance is certified.

-Installing new, high-performance windows will improve your home’s energy performance. While it may take many years for new windows to pay off in energy savings, the benefits of added comfort and improved aesthetics and functionality may make the investment worth it to you.

-Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows to reduce solar gain. Install awnings on south- and west-facing windows.

-Close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day.

-Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.

-Repair and weatherize your current storm windows, if necessary.

-Install exterior or interior storm windows; storm windows can reduce heat loss through the windows by 25% to 50%. Storm windows should have weatherstripping at all moveable joints; be made of strong, durable materials; and have interlocking or overlapping joints. Low-e storm windows save even more energy.

-Keep windows on the south side of your house clean to let in the winter sun.

-Close your curtains and shades at night; open them during the day.

-Install tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.

-You can 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. Remember, the plastic must be sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.

-Conduct an energy audit of your home to find air leaks and to check for the proper level of insulation.

-Common sources of air leaks include cracks around windows and doors, gaps along baseboard, mail chutes, cracks in brick, siding, stucco or foundation, or where any external lines (phone, cable, electric, and gas) enter the home.

-To test for air leaks on your own, on a windy day, hold a lit candle next to windows, doors, electrical outlets, or light fixtures to test for leaks. Also, tape clear plastic sheeting to the inside of your window frames if drafts, water condensation, or frost are present.

-Plug air leaks with caulking, sealing, or weather stripping to save 10 percent or more on your energy bill.

-Adequate insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawlspaces, as recommended for your geographical area, can save you up to 30 percent on home energy bills.

-Installing storm windows over single-pane windows or replacing them with ENERGY STAR windows can reduce heat loss from air leakage, and reflect heat back into the room during the winter months to save even more energy.

-In cold climates, ENERGY STAR windows can reduce your heating bills by 30 to 40 percent compared to uncoated, single-pane windows, according to the Efficient Windows Collaborative.

-Close fireplace dampers when not in use. A chimney is designed for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes.

Lighting and Daylighting

-Consider using high-intensity discharge (also called HID) or low-pressure sodium lights.

-Exterior lighting is one of the best places to use CFLs because of their long life. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to buy a lamp with a cold weather ballast since standard CFLs may not work well below 40°F.

-Turn off decorative outdoor natural gas lamps; just eight such lamps burning year-round use as much natural gas as it takes to heat an average-size home during an entire winter.

-Use outdoor lights with a photocell unit or a motion sensor so they will turn on only at night or when someone is present. A combined photocell and motion sensor will increase your energy savings even more.

-Consider using 4-watt minifluorescent or electro-luminescent night lights. Both lights are much more efficient than their incandescent counterparts. The luminescent lights are cool to the touch.

-If you have torchiere fixtures with halogen lamps, consider replacing them with compact fluorescent torchieres. Compact fluorescent torchieres use 60% to 80% less energy, can produce more light (lumens), and do not get as hot as the halogen torchieres. Halogen torchieres are a fire risk because of the high temperature of the halogen bulb.

-Take advantage of daylight by using light-colored, loose-weave curtains on your windows to allow daylight to penetrate the room while preserving privacy. Also, decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight.

-Recessed downlights (also called recessed cans) are now available that are rated for contact with insulation (IC rated), are designed specifically for pin-based CFLs, and can be used in retrofits or new construction.

-Use CFLs in all the portable table and floor lamps in your home. Consider carefully the size and fit of these systems when you select them. Some home fixtures may not accommodate some of the larger CFLs.

-Consider using 4-watt minifluorescent or electro-luminescent night lights. Both lights are much more efficient than their incandescent counterparts. The luminescent lights are cool to the touch. Use 4-foot fluorescent fixtures with reflective backing and electronic ballasts for your workroom, garage, and laundry areas.

-Consider three-way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary.

-Use task lighting; instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it. For example, use fluorescent under-cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops under cabinets.

-Turn off the lights in any room you’re not using, or consider installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.

-Install task lighting – such as under-counter kitchen lights or bathroom mirror lights – to reduce the need for ambient lighting of large spaces.

-Use dimmers, motion sensors, or occupancy sensors to automatically turn on or off lighting as needed and prevent energy waste.

-Install fluorescent light fixtures for all ceiling- and wall-mounted fixtures that will be on for more than 2 hours each day.

-Use ENERGY STAR labeled lighting fixtures.

-Consider light wall colors to minimize the need for artificial lighting.

-Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in place of comparable incandescent bulbs to save about 50 percent on your lighting costs. CFLs use only one-fourth the energy and last up to 10 times longer. Turn your lights off when you leave a room. Standard, incandescent light bulbs should be turned off whenever they are not needed. Fluorescent lights should be turned off whenever you’ll be away for 15 minutes or more.

-During winter, 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 Installing a skylight can provide your home with daylighting and warmth. When properly selected and installed, an energy-efficient skylight can help minimize your heating, cooling, and lighting costs.

Water Heating

-Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

-Take short showers instead of baths.

-Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120° F.

-You might qualify for tax credits or rebates for buying a solar water heater. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy Web site and see.

-Heat pump water heaters are very economical in some areas.

-Consider natural-gas on-demand or tank-less water heaters. Researchers have found savings can be up to 30% compared with a standard natural-gas storage tank water heater.

-Consider installing a drain water waste heat recovery system. A recent DOE study showed energy savings of 25% to about 30% for water heating using such a system.

-Buy a new energy-efficient water heater. While it may cost more initially than a standard water heater, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance. Look for the EnergyGuide label. Although most water heaters last 10-15 years, it’s best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than 7 years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs.

-Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer’s advice.

-Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Some new water heaters have built-in heat traps.

-If you are in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR model to reduce hot water use.

-Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater. Insulate your natural gas or oil hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations; when in doubt, get professional help.

-Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

-Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household.

-Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 120°F provides comfortable hot water for most uses. Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.

-Install aerating, low-flow faucets and shower heads.

-Select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) for maximum water efficiency. Before 1992, some showerheads had flow rates of 5.5 gpm, so you might want to replace them if you’re not sure of their flow rates.

-Insulate your hot water pipes, which will reduce heat loss and can raise water temperature 2ºF–4ºF hotter than uninsulated pipes. This allows for a lower water temperature setting.

-Lowering the thermostat on your water heater by 10ºF can save you between 3%–5% in energy costs.

-Most households only require a water heater thermostat setting of 120ºF, or even 115ºF.

-Did you know that 85-90% of the energy from hot water is wasted when it goes down the drain? Install a drain-water heat recovery system to pre-heat new water using the heat from drained water.

-If heating a swimming pool, consider a swimming pool cover. Evaporation is by far the largest source of energy loss in swimming pools.

No Cost Tips – Business

These simple steps don’t cost a thing, but can potentially save you 10-25% on your monthly energy bill.

-Keep the thermostat at 78-80 degrees when people are in the building, 85 degrees at night and on weekends during the cooling season. In the heating season, keep the temperature at 68 degrees when people occupy the building, 55-60 degrees at night and on weekends.

-Turn down the water heater to 120 degrees.

-Make sure outdoor lighting is turned off during the day.

-Don’t use screen savers – they prevent CPUs and monitors from going into power-saver mode.

-Make sure equipment is turned off overnight and weekends. Use the energy saving feature on printers, monitors, copiers, and computers if the option is available.

-Make double-sided copies whenever possible.

-Allow your workers to wear comfortable clothing during hot weather. It makes little sense to keep a room cold enough that workers must wear suits and coats.

-To save energy, keep exterior and freight doors closed as much as possible.

-Make sure that bulbs, fixtures, lenses, lamps and reflective surfaces are cleaned regularly. By removing grease, dust and other dirt, you can increase the output of your lights.

-Remove under desk space heaters.

Low Cost Tips – Business

There are plenty of low cost, easy to do projects or steps you can do to save another 10-25% on your energy bill.

-Repair any leaky faucets promptly.

-Plant trees on south and west sides of the building.

-Use ceiling fans to keep the air moving. They can make it feel at least four degrees cooler.

-Install low-flow shower heads in any on-site shower facilities.

-Faucet aerators should be installed in restrooms.

-Install low-water-use dish washing equipment if a cafeteria is located on site.

-Make sure doors to the outside have enough weather stripping.

-Caulk windows.

-Use drapes, shutters, or window film to prevent heat loss and heat gain.

-Change the furnace filters monthly.

-Replace existing exit signs with more efficient LED exit signs.

-Install a programmable thermostat. Consider a locking cover over the thermostat to avoid having employees change temperature settings.

-Insulate water heaters and supply pipes.

-If there is a cafeteria in your building, consider replacing broilers with smooth or grooved griddles… your energy consumption will be significantly reduced.

-Use insulated night covers on display cases.

Added Cost Tips – Business

With the help of a contractor, these steps could potentially save you another 25% on your monthly bill. Remember to do your research before you sign a contract or put down a deposit.

-Change incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. Use T-8 fluorescents in overhead lighting.

-Use electronic ballasts. They increase fluorescent lamp efficiency by up to 25% and increase light output by 10-15%.

-Install skylights and use less artificial lighting.

-Make sure there is enough insulation above the ceiling and in the walls.

-Consider installing double pane or storm windows.

-Install low-emissivity coatings to windows. Low-e coating is a thin transparent coating of silver or tin oxide on the glass surface or on a suspended plastic film, which lets short-wavelength sunlight pass through, but blocks longer-wavelength heat radiation.

-Purchase ENERGY STAR®-labeled products. For more information and a list of vendors, visit the Energy Star Web site at: http://www.energystar.gov/.

-Install occupancy sensors and timers for lighting. Some areas that are used sporadically, such as offices, restrooms, and supply rooms, are good candidates for using sensors or timers. Lights are only on when someone is in the room, reducing unnecessary energy use.

-Install an air conditioning economizer to bring in outside air when it’s cool.

-Install ground source heat pumps, which transfer heat between the building and the ground. Despite the installation costs, they have low operating costs.