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Energy Saving Tips

Reducing your energy usage is the easiest way to save money on your electric bill. Our energy saving tips will show you how to cut your energy use while staying comfortable.

Save energy and money as the weather cools down

  • Don't block your radiators or heating vents with furniture or draperies. Keep your radiators, registers and baseboard heaters dirt and dust free.

  • Have your heating system serviced and check to see if furnace filters need replacing.

  • Weatherize your home by caulking and weather-stripping around doors and windows.

Cooking

  • When cooking on an electric range, use pots and pans that are properly sized to “fit” the burners. Using the right sized pot on stove burners can save about $36 annually for an electric range, or $18 for gas.

  • Cook food and boil water in a covered container whenever possible; it's faster and uses less energy.

  • Begin cooking on a higher heat setting until liquid begins to boil. Then, lower the temperature and simmer the food until fully cooked. A fast boil doesn’t cook faster than a slow boil, but it does use more energy.

  • Turn off cook tops or ovens a few minutes before food has completed cooking. Retained heat finishes the job using less energy.

  • Use small electric pans, toaster ovens, or convection ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster or convection oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven.

  • Try to avoid peeking at the food you are baking in the oven. Each time you open the door, the oven temperature is lowered 25 degrees.

  • Use cold water when operating your food/waste disposal. Cold water saves energy and solidifies grease so that it will move through the drainpipes easier.

  • Place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot position draws hot water even though it may never reach the faucet.

Home Cooling

  • Use a ceiling fan. On warm days, dialing up the thermostat by just 2 degrees and using your ceiling fan can lower air-conditioning costs by up to 14% over the course of the cooling season. Since fans only cool people, not the air, you’ll save energy and money by turning them off when you leave the room.

  • Close blinds, drapes and shades during the hottest part of the day. This keeps the strong, warm sunlight from heating up your home and adding to the air conditioner load.

  • Retire your old central air conditioner. If your central air conditioner is more than 12 years old, consider replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR qualified model. These models can reduce your cooling costs by 20 percent.

  • Set your thermostat higher in the summer. In cooling mode, each degree you set your thermostat above 5 degrees will save you about 3 percent. For convenience, install a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature while you are asleep or away from home, saving you more than $100 a year.

  • Set your furnace fan to “auto” – Setting the fan switch on your thermostat to “on” will cause it to run all the time, whether or not your home needs heating or cooling.

  • Keep air registers and vents clear of obstructions to allow air to flow freely throughout the room.

  • Keep room air conditioner out of the sun, if possible. Room air conditioners work best when kept cool. Installing one in a north-facing wall is usually ideal.

  • If you have a pool, turn off your filter overnight when the pool is not in use.

  • Get rid of hot air. Use an exhaust fan to blow hot air out of your kitchen while you’re cooking. The savings on your cooling costs far outweigh the electricity used by the fan. Also, take lukewarm showers and baths to avoid humid air, which holds more heat.

  • Postpone laundry and dishwashing until nighttime to avoid generating extra heat in your home. Also, consider taking advantage of the warmer air and dry your laundry outside.

  • Use a dehumidifier in the warm, humid months to remove moisture from the air. A dehumidifier works best when air can circulate freely through it. Place it away from walls and bulky furniture.

  • Plant a tree. Well-placed shade trees can help reduce air conditioning costs in the summer, increase the efficiency of your air conditioner, and act as a windbreak. And, when the leaves fall off, allow warm sunlight to enter your home during the winter. Right now, we’re giving cash rebates equal to 50% of the price of a new tree.

  • Air conditioners can lose up to five percent of their energy efficiency every year they go without a regular checkup. That’s why we offer a cash rebate to get your A/C tuned up by a professional service technician. You’ll use less energy because your air conditioner will run more efficiently.

Home Heating

  • Keep shades and curtains open during the day on the south side of your home to naturally heat your home during the day and close them at night to retain the heat.

  • Close the fireplace damper when not in use to stop cold air from entering the house through the chimney.

  • Replace screens with storm windows for an extra barrier to the cold outside air. Make sure to close storm windows tightly so no air leaks in or out.

  • Cover through-the-wall air conditioners to prevent cold air from leaking into your home.

  • Set your thermostat lower in winter. In heating mode, lower your thermostat by 1 degree for 8 hours (while asleep or away from home) to save about 1% on our heating bill. For convenience, install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature depending on the time of day and day of week, saving you more than $100 a year.

  • Set your furnace fan to “auto” – Setting the fan switch on your thermostat to “on” will cause it to run all the time, whether or not your home needs heating or cooling.

  • Use your ceiling fan clockwise. In the winter months, your fan should run in reverse (clockwise) at a low speed. This will gently draw the room air up towards the ceiling and force the warm air down and out towards the walls, avoiding giving you the wind chill effect.

  • Insulating and air sealing are two cost effective ways to improve energy efficiency, lower your utility bill and help you stay warm and comfortable. Reducing air leaks alone could cut 10 percent from the average household’s energy bill. When correctly installed in a home that has been air sealed, insulation can help you achieve both comfort and energy savings during the hottest and coldest times of the year. To find out if your home is need of insulation and/or air sealing, contact Focus on Energy (focusonenergy.com or 800-762-7077) about a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR evaluation.

  • Don't block your radiators or heating vents with furniture or draperies. Keep your radiators, registers and baseboard heaters dirt and dust free.

  • Maintain or replace your heating system – Schedule yearly maintenance with a qualified contractor and replace furnace filters monthly or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Use kitchen and bath ventilating fans wisely. Turn these fans off as soon as they are no longer needed. In about one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed air.

  • Evergreens on the north side of your house can provide shelter against cold winds and can lower your heating bill. If you plant in the fall, make sure you plant a tree with a root ball to ensure it survives the winter.

  • Weatherize your home by caulking and weather-stripping around doors and windows.

Kitchen Appliances

Dishwashers

  • Run the dishwasher only when enough dirty dishes have accumulated for a full load. Running a half-filled dishwasher twice uses two times as much energy as running a full load once.

  • Scrape dirty dishes, don’t rinse. Rinsing dirty dishes before loading your dishwasher uses a lot of water and energy. Most dishwashers today can thoroughly clean dishes that have had food scraped, rather than rinsed, off — the wash cycle and detergent take care of the rest.

  • Utilize your dishwasher’s energy-saving settings such as the no heat drying cycle.

  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer's recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120° F).

  • Avoid using the "rinse hold" on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3-7 gallons of hot water each use.
Refrigerators
  • Check the seals on your refrigerator door to make sure they are clean and tight. Your refrigerator accounts for up to 11 percent of your household’s total energy use, which can have a major impact on your energy bill.

  • Check temperature settings. Recommended temperatures are 37°-40°F for the fresh food compartment and 5° F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0° F.

  • Arrange items in your refrigerator for quick removal and return. The longer the door is open, the longer the refrigerator compressor runs.

  • Dust and pet hair can build up on your refrigerator condenser coils, causing the motor to work harder and use more electricity. Make sure the coils are cleaned so that air can circulate freely.

  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.

  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost freezers and refrigerators; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.

  • Recycle that second refrigerator or freezer in the garage/basement. It could be increasing your electric bill by more than $100 every year. Focus on Energy offers FREE refrigerator and freezer recycling to help you save money and energy. It’s quick and convenient—and you’ll get a cash-back reward for participating. Visit focusonenergy.com or call 855.398.5226 to schedule a pick-up.

Laundry

Clothes washers

  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible. Hot water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes — only 10 percent goes to electricity used by the washer motor. Depending on the clothes and local water quality (hardness), many homeowners can effectively do laundry exclusively with cold water, using cold water laundry detergents. Switching to cold water can save the average household more than $40 annually (with an electric water heater) and more than $30 annually (with a gas water heater).

  • Wash and dry full loads. Washing full loads can save you more than 3,400 gallons of water each year.

  • If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.

  • Doing full loads of laundry in the washer saves both energy and water. Sort and organize your laundry so that you will be doing full loads. Be careful not to overload the washer. Your clothes may not get fully clean and may need to be washed again.
Dryers
  • In your dryer, don't over dry clothes. Besides using more energy than is needed, over drying is hard on fabrics. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.

  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.

  • Clean the dryer's lint filter after every load to improve air circulation and prevent fire hazards.

  • Periodically, use the long nozzle tip on your vacuum cleaner to remove the lint that collects below the lint screen in the lint screen slot of your clothes dryer.

  • Also remember to inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material -- not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.

  • Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the heat remaining in the dryer.

  • Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks. Air drying is recommended by clothing manufacturers for some fabrics.

Lighting

  • Turn off lights. Turn off lights when not in use, even for short periods of time. Turning lights off and on uses less energy than if they are left on all the time.

  • Install a timer on outdoor lights. Use timers to turn lights on and off to help regulate use. To assure only dusk-to-dawn operation of your outdoor lights, control your fixtures with a photocell or a timer.

  • You can cut your electric bill by $60 per year if you replace the standard bulbs in your five most frequently used light fixtures with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). And always remember to recycle or properly dispose of CFLs.

  • Consider LED lighting. LED lights use 10 times less energy and last 50 times longer than traditional incandescent lights.

  • Consider using task lighting (lighting directed at a specific area) instead of overhead or general lighting, which may light unused areas of the room. By limiting lighting only to areas where it is needed, savings in the cost of bulbs and energy can be made.

  • Use natural lighting. Open curtains and shades during the day instead of using lighting. Consider skylights and solar tubes during remodeling or new construction design. This allows the maximum use of natural daylight.

  • Kitchen fixtures are some of the most used light fixtures in a home. ENERGY STAR qualified lighting fixtures are available in popular styles that may be just right for your kitchen, such as cabinet-mounted, ceiling-mounted, and recessed can models. ENERGY STAR qualified lighting provides bright, warm light while using 75% less energy, generating 75% less heat and lasting up to 10 times longer than standard lighting.

Water Heating

  • Repair leaky faucets. Hot water leaking at a rate of 1 drip per second can waste up to 1,661 gallons of water over the course of a year, and waste up to $35 in electricity or in natural gas. Fixing drips is a cost-effective and easy way to save energy.

  • Install low-flow aerators and fixtures. An average family can save as much as $50 to $75 per year on water and sewer bills by switching to low-flow showerheads and low-flush toilets.

  • Turn off the faucet. To save water, be sure to turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth, shaving, or rinsing dishes by hand.

  • Wash only full loads. Your clothes washer and dishwasher use about the same amount of water whether you wash a full load, or just one item.

  • Purchase the correct size water heater. Consider the hot water needs of your family. If your water heater is too large, you will waste energy; if it is too small, you will likely run out of hot water.

  • Set the water thermostat to 120 degrees. With every 10-degree reduction in water temperature, you can save 3 to 5 percent in water-heating costs.

  • If the doors to the closet that houses your hot water heater have louvers or grills, do not cover or set anything in front of them.

  • Wrapping a fiberglass blanket around your electric water heater and securing it with duct tape, or installing a ready-made insulation kit can save up to 10% on water heating costs. (Note: Most new water heaters are already insulated, so this tip is most effective for electric water heaters that are more than five years old.)

  • Insulate water pipes. Use half-inch foam or pipe tape for insulation wherever pipes are exposed. On cold water pipes, insulate four to five feet nearest to the water heater. Pipe insulation can save you up to $25 annually.

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