Energy Tips

Did you know that 56% of your energy goes to heating and cooling, 21% to refrigeration and water heating and 23% to appliances and lighting? You x can save energy in your home to reduce the cost of your monthly bill with these ten easy tips:

  1. Light bulb Replace any light bulb, especially ones that are on more than one hour per day, with a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb.
  2. Close shades and drapes during the day to help keep heat out in the summer.
  3. Plug electronic devices such as cable boxes, printers, and TVs into power strips to turn off during vacations or long periods without use.
  4. Outside your home, caulk around all penetrations including telephone, electrical, cable, gas, water spigots, dryer vents, etc.
  5. Change HVAC air filters monthly.
  6. Use dishwasher’s air-dry cycle instead of the heat-dry cycle to dry dishes.
  7. Keep your garage door down. A warmer garage in the winter and a cooler garage in the summer will save energy.
  8. Set water heater temperature no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Make sure your dryer vent hose is not kinked or clogged.
  10. Ensure refrigerator door seals are tight.

Everything you do, from flipping a switch to upgrading your lights, can add up to big savings for you and your neighbors. For more information and additional ways to save energy in your home, visit Touchstone Energy’s website.

Home Energy Savings

Keeping Cool

  • Insulate your home as much as you can. That makes a big difference, whether for heating or cooling.
  • Set your air-conditioning thermostat at the highest temperature setting at which you’re comfortable. Cooling costs can be reduced by about five percent for every two degrees higher you set your unit. Keep heat-producing items like televisions and lamps away from thermostats.
  • Light bulbs produce heat. Keep them off during the day as much as you can. Drapes, blinds, and shades should be closed during the hottest hours.
  • Humidity is a factor. Take baths and wash dishes early in the morning or in the evening instead of during the day. Use an outside clothesline to avoid adding heat to your house during the hottest months.
  • If you have a powered roof ventilator, turn it off.  Experts have learned there are more benefits of their use. In the warm months, it draws cooled air from inside your home into the hot attic and can cause humidity to be drawn into the home.
  • Use an air-conditioner with an efficiency rating of 13 or higher. Window units are rated by their Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER), while central systems use a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). Use the proper size because bigger is not always better.
  • Maintain cooling systems properly. Clean or replace filters regularly. Window units generally have filters behind the front panel, and they need to be cleaned with soap and water. Use a brush to clean the filter.

Staying Warm

  • Insulate using materials with high efficiency rating numbers.
  • Install storm windows and doors or less-expensive vinyl window kits. Remove or cover window air conditioning units for the winter.
  • Drafts can occur  wherever two different building materials or parts of a building meet. Use weather-stripping or caulk to block cold air, especially around windows, doors, and attic access doors. Insulate the back side of the attic door.
  • Washing, cooking, and bathing all add heat and humidity to the air on cooler days. Open the blinds and shades to let the sun in.
  • Showers use less hot water, on average, than baths.
  • Set the thermostat at the lowest setting at which you are comfortable. Each degree above 68 degrees adds about five percent to your heating bill. Don’t set the thermostat higher at first, thinking it will heat your home faster. It won’t!
  • Make sure the thermostat is not affected by a cold draft, such as window or door openings.
  • Lower the thermostat, especially if you’re going to be away for more than eight hours at a time.
  • In rooms with high ceilings, reverse the circulation direction of ceiling fans in order to push down warmer air.
  • Keep the fireplace damper closed when it’s not in use. Glass fireplace doors also greatly reduce heat loss.
  • Keep furnaces and heat pumps in good condition. Change filters regularly.

Kitchen & Appliances

Energy saving. stacks of coins growing in light bulb and tree growing on stacks of coins and tree nature background. Saving, Natural energy and financial conceptThe kitchen can amount to 15-20% of your monthly energy use, which includes appliances and refrigeration.

  • Microwave ovens use less than half the power of a conventional oven. So do electric skillets and toaster ovens.
  • Don’t preheat the oven unless it’s necessary. Many foods don’t require it. And no peeking! Each time you open the door, you lower the temperature by 25 to 50 degrees.
  • Use cold water in the garbage disposal. It’s better for the unit and uses less energy.
  • A dishwasher is more energy efficient than washing by hand. If rinsing dirty dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, do so with cold water. Open the door and let the load air dry to save electricity. Wash only full loads!
  • For the refrigerator and freezer, the most efficient settings are 40 degrees and 0 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. A full refrigerator or freezer uses less energy. Switch your refrigerator’s power-saver to “ON,” if available, and use the refrigerator’s anti-sweat feature only if necessary.
  • Refrigerator and freezer doors need to be airtight. Replace the gaskets if they are cracking or drying out. Clean refrigerator coils annually, and regularly defrost refrigerators and freezers to avoid ice buildup.
  • Unplug unused refrigerators, freezers, and other large appliances. Recycle them if you do not need them.
  • When cooking on the over range, use pot lids to help food cook faster. If you are heating water on the stove, use hot tap water instead of cold. Remember to use the kitchen exhaust fan when cooking, and turn it off afterwards.
  • Use a slow-cooker instead of simmering foods on the stove.
  • Turn off coffee makers and other unneeded appliances when not in use.

Laundry Room

Laundry can amount to 5-9% of your monthly energy use.

  • Keep your dryer lint filter clean and have the exhaust duct cleaned annually. This saves energy and reduces fire hazards. Also, make sure the dryer’s outside exhaust door is not clogged or blocked.
  • Wash clothes with cool water when possible and always rinse in cold water. If you can’t set your washing machine for the size of load, wait until you have a full load.
  • The soak cycle saves energy. Don’t over-wash; ten minutes is usually enough for even the dirtiest of clothes.
  • Only do full laundry loads. If you must do smaller loads, adjust the water level in the washing machine to match the load size, especially when using hot water.
  • Verify dryer vent hose is tightly connected to the inside wall fitting and connected to dryer.
  • In hot weather, avoid running the dryer during the heat of the day.
  • Use bath towels at least twice before washing them.
  • Dry consecutive loads to harvest heat remaining in dryer from the previous load.
  • Consider using a “solar-powered” clothes dryer: an old fashioned clothes line!

Lighting & Electric

Hands holding an earth globeTraditional lighting can amount to 11% of your monthly energy use. Energy saving light bulbs can slice costs by 75%.

  • Replace outdoor lighting with its equivalent outdoor-rated LED bulb. LEDs work well in cold weather.
  • Use fixtures with electronic ballasts and T-8,32 Watt fluorescent lamps.
  • Use outdoor security lights with a photocell and/or a motion sensor.
  • Turn off unnecessary lighting.
  • Turn computers, monitors, and large-screen TVs off completely when not in use.
  • Remember to turn off hair irons.
  • Make sure electric blankets are turned off in the morning.
  • Unplug battery chargers when not needed.

Water Heating

Water Heating can amount to 12% of your annual energy use.

  • For households with 1 or 2 members, a 115 degrees Fahrenheit setting may work fine.
  • Install a water heater wrap, also known as a water heater blanket, per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Drain 1-2 gallons from the bottom of your water heater each year to reduce sediment build up.
  • Install heat traps on hot and cold water lines when it’s time to replace your water heater.
  • Insulate exposed hot water lines.
  • Limit shower length to 5-7 minutes.
  • Install water-saving shower heads.
  • Fix dripping faucets.
  • Don’t let the water run while you are shaving or brushing your teeth.

Outside the House

  • Sodium vapor lights are a good option for outdoor use. They consume less energy for the same light output as incandescent bulbs and they last longer.
  • Landscaping also can make a difference. A line of fast-growing trees like poplars, or tall shrubs, can serve as a windbreak. Planting evergreen trees on the north side and deciduous trees on the south side of a home can block winter winds and summer sun. Shrubs along the house can help, too, but don’t let them interfere with heat pumps or air conditioners.
  • Make sure shrubs and weeds do not interfere with outside heat pump or furnace units, which should be hosed down periodically to remove leaves, grass clipping, dust, and dirt. Be aware that fire ants can damage outside heat pumps and air conditioning units.

No Cost / Low Cost Savings

Bright ideas to save energy.

  • Place lamps in corners to reflect light from two walls instead of one. Light-colored walls reflect more than dark walls.
  • Fluorescent bulbs far outlast incandescent bulbs and can be found to fit most standard fixtures. If you use them in places where you use bulbs that operate four or more hours a day, your investment in the more expensive fluorescent bulbs will more than pay for itself in a couple of years.
  • Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are four-times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and last up to ten times longer.
  • Turn off incandescent bulbs when you leave a room, they produce heat and burn out faster. But leave on fluorescent bulbs if you’re going to be gone 15 minutes or less. It takes more energy to turn them on than it does to just let them run, and it wears out the bulb faster.
  • Keep your oven top, pots, and pans spic and span. Shiny reflector pans under your stove burners help focus the heat more efficiently. Tight-fitting lids produce results faster by not letting heat escape, allowing you to use less heat and less water. You can turn the heat off earlier, since it’s retained longer.
  • Computer equipment is the faster growing category of electricity use in the home. Consider turning off computer and home entertainment equipment if you are not going to be using it for a while.