HEATING & COOLING
- Heating & cooling uses 50% of the average home’s energy costs so address those areas first. Check/change your filters on a monthly basis.
- Check/change HVAC filters monthly. Dirty filters can block air flow and decrease equipment efficiency and performance.
- Check your ductwork to be sure it is sealed and getting warm/cool air where you want it. If there is no mastic (white paint-like stuff) or aluminum tape (not DUCT tape) chances are you are losing energy through the joints. Don’t use duct tape because the constant heating/cooling breaks down the adhesive quickly and it’ll just fall off.
- Do not put furniture in front of/over supply or return registers. Blocking them will prevent air from properly circulating in the room causing discomfort – and you’ll probably needlessly adjust the thermostat and use (and pay for!) more energy than really necessary.
- Close curtains/mini-blinds on cold days when there is no sunshine. You’ll keep the warm air from being lost out the cold window glass and feel more comfortable.
- Keep the air you’ve paid to heat or cool from escaping. Seal holes at the top of your house where the house joins the attic like the attic hatch, wall headers and holes where wiring and plumbing come through.
- Weather strip and insulate your attic hatch. LOTS of air can be lost through this opening, even if it has a cover. It’s an easy, inexpensive do it yourself job.
- Seal around your foundation – where the house joins the basement/crawl. The best place to start is the rim joist. Next look for holes where plumbing and wiring come up through the floor.
- Contrary to popular belief not as much air is lost around windows and doors as is lost through holes at the top of your house. Repair any places around windows & doors where you can see daylight to improve your comfort – but for real energy savings seal gaps, cracks and holes where your house joins with your attic.
- Have single pane windows? It is normally more cost effective to add storm windows than to replace them with double-paned, low-e, gas filled. The cost savings are just not there despite what the window company says. Your energy advisor will be happy to help you run the numbers.
- Have hot and cold areas in your home? Don’t be too quick to blame your equipment. First, look to be sure that all the areas where your house joins your attic are sealed – like where wiring and plumbing comes through. Also, the attic hatch can let a lot of air escape.
- Did you know that the first two inches of insulation stops 81% of the heat loss? Before you add more, check to be sure that all wiring and plumbing penetrations from the house to the attic are sealed with caulk or foam. Insulation that has air moving through it is an R0.
- Space heaters may be small but they can easily cost $100 a month to run. Use only when necessary. Ask your energy advisor for help – he may be able to help permanently fix the problem so you won’t need the space heater.
HOT WATER USE
- Your water heater is the second largest user of energy in your home. To reduce its cost – use less hot water by taking shorter showers and washing clothes in cold water.
- Set water heater temp at 120°. That’s plenty warm enough for bathing and washing clothes and dishes but cool enough to prevent scalding.
- Limit shower length to 5-7 minutes to save hot water and use less energy. Try using a low-flow shower head to keep pressure up but water usage down.
- Fix dripping faucets – especially if hot water!
- Insulate exposed hot water lines. It’ll help the hot water in the pipes stay hotter longer.
- Wash clothes in cold water. Read your clothing labels but most do fine when washed in cold water. Also, many laundry detergents are formulated to work in cold water and will do an excellent cleaning job.
- Don’t let water run while you are shaving or brushing your teeth.
- Your refrigerator is the third largest user of energy in your home. Be sure the door seals are in good condition. Clean the coils by following the owner’s manual. Keep set at 38 degrees.
- Unplug un-used fridges and freezers. Fridges and freezers were not designed to be used in basements and garages so they have to work harder and use more energy. If you don’t really need it – unplug it.
- Have a second fridge/freezer and use it for more than just a few items? Ask your Energy Advisor for a kilowatt metering device to check the efficiency. Or consider replacing it with an Energy Star qualified model. They really do use less energy.
GENERAL APPLIANCES & LIGHTING
- Clean dryer’s lint trap after every load. Not only will it help prevent a fire, it’ll allow the dryer to move air effectively and dry your clothes more quickly. That’ll save you time and money.
- Make sure the outside dryer exhaust flap closes when dryer is off. If it is stuck open with too much lint, cold air can come in through the dryer and make you uncomfortable.
- Running the dishwasher saves you money over running hot water and hand washing – but skip the heated drying cycle to save money. Either towel dry or drip dry in the machine.
- Turn off unnecessary lighting. It does not cost more to flip the lights back on if you return to the room in a few minutes.
- Replace bulbs used more than 1 hour per day with CFLs. A Compact Fluorescent Light bulb uses ¼ of the energy of an equivalent light out-put incandescent bulb.
- Turn things off when you are not using them – completely off! TV instant on features, computer sleep modes and printers waiting on standby, battery and cell chargers all use energy – attach to a power strip and turn them off.
- Each spring turn off heaters that you use only in the winter: Heat tape, livestock tank heaters, block heaters. These are easily forgotten and can add quite a bit to your monthly power bill.
- Purchase Energy Star appliances. They will cost a bit more to purchase but you’ll quickly make up the extra cost in monthly energy savings – and continue to save money every month throughout the life of the appliance.
- For real energy savings follow these steps: seal, insulate, and equip. Seal your home against air infiltration. Insulate with the correct material in the correct places. Use and maintain your equipment correctly. Our Energy Advisor will be glad to help you.
- Ask your energy advisor for help with lowering your energy usage. He is trained and experienced at offering helpful advice.
- Thinking about building a new home? Ask our energy advisor how to make it very energy efficient and comfortable.
More energy-saving tips can be found at the Touchstone Energy Savers site.