Lighting accounts for about 18% of the energy used in the home. The BEST way to save energy is to turn off all lights when not in use. Choose the right size and type of light bulb for the lighting job. One 150 watt bulb is more efficient than two 75 watt bulbs. Use the right wattage bulb for the fixture. When decorating, use light colors on walls, floors and ceilings. They reflect more light into the room. Clean all lighting fixtures frequently to maintain their efficiency.
Replace Incandescent Bulbs with Compact Flourescents
The conventional screw-in incandescent light bulb not only is extremely inefficient, it also has a very short life and must be replaced frequently. When you figure the true cost, the ordinary light bulb is anything but a bargain!
The super-energy-efficient compact fluorescent is just that: a miniature, U-shaped fluorescent tube and ballast that screws in your fixture to replace an incandescent bulb. Compacts make it possible to replace an incandescent with a more efficient and long-lasting fluorescent bulb. For example, where you have been using a 60-watt incandescent, you can screw in a 15-watt compact fluorescent that will last 10 times as long - and will deliver about the same amount of light for one-quarter the energy!
Although compact fluorescents are considerably more expensive than incandescents, they will more than pay for themselves with savings in electricity, lamp replacement and labor cost. Payback is quickest when they are installed in fixtures that are used for many hours each day, year round.
Use the calculator below to estimate the money saved by switching from regular incandescent light bulbs to energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.
* On average compact fluorescents last 10000 hours
A home's biggest energy consumer is its heating system.
Adjust your thermostat setting.
The more you turn down (and in summer, turn up) your thermostat, the greater the savings will be. Some people, particularly the elderly, may require indoor temperatures to be maintained at 65°F or higher at all times to prevent a fatal drop in body temperature. People with circulatory problems or those taking certain types of drugs may also be vulnerable. In such instances, a doctor's advice on both winter and summer thermostat settings should be followed.
Some reductions in the heating system's efficiency can be corrected for little or no cost. For example, a clogged furnace filter can greatly reduce the amount of air being circulated by the furnace through the heat distribution system. Checking the filter once a month and replacing when necessary during the heating season allows a greater amount of warmed air to be re-circulated. Getting regular checkups for your heating/cooling system is as important as maintaining your car. Just as a tuned-up car will last longer and get more miles for every gallon of fuel, your heating system will give you longer service and more heat for every unit of fuel. A more efficient heating system saves you money because it takes less fuel to get the same amount of heat. The thermostat also should be periodically checked and kept free of dust.
On forced air systems, check the distribution system for air leaks. Repair leaks with duct tape. Check heat registers and cold air returns for obstructions. Chairs or sofas placed in front of a heat register or cold air return will reduce the effectiveness of the furnace. And make sure drapes are not covering the registers. Insulate ducts that run through unheated spaces.
Keep heat-producing objects, such as lamps or TVs, away from the thermostat. If you use a portable heater, be sure it is safe. Make sure your home has ample wire size to accommodate the electrical requirements of the heater. Be sure to keep a portable heater away from water and from flammable material such as drapes. Be sure it has an automatic shut-off in case it is tipped over and it should be thermostatically controlled.
HOT WATER HEATERS
Hot water heaters are the second largest energy user in the home. One cost-free way to save energy is by lowering the thermostat on your water heater. Most water heaters have settings ranging from 100° to 155°. Most homes need no higher than 120° unless you have a dishwasher which needs 140° water for its efficiency. An energy-saving short cycle can save up to 25% of water heating energy costs. An "air dry" selector can save up to 30% of the electricity used by the dishwasher. Your clothes washer can use cooler water temperature, too, especially with today's detergents and fabrics.
Regular maintenance of your water heater helps save energy too. Sediment buildup on the bottom of the heater interferes with its efficiency. Drain a bucket of water from the bottom of the tank at least every three months by opening the plug and allow the water to run until clear - one or two buckets will do. Insulating your water heater stops heat loss through the pipes and heater tank. Kits are available at hardware stores but, BE SURE TO CALL THE GAS COMPANY FOR SAFETY INFORMATION WHEN WRAPPING A GAS WATER HEATER.
Showers use less water than baths, and hot water saved means energy saved. A low flow showerhead saves even more heated water.
COLD AIR LEAKS
Cold air seeps into your house through small holes and cracks, while heated air leaks out. Both can cost you plenty, since you pay to heat the cold air coming in and you have already paid to heat the warm air leaking out. Install rope-caulk weather-stripping. It's a cheap, flexible, clay-like material that is easy to install. Press it in the cracks between the window sash and frame. It dries over time, so check it once or twice during the heating season to be sure it's still tight. It should be removed in the spring and replaced in the fall. If you keep your windows closed during the summer, replace the old caulk in the spring. Fill in cracks with caulk where:
- The wooden sill of the house meets the foundation;
- Dryer vents and fan covers pass through the wall;
- Plumbing pipes and telephone wires enter the house;
- The fireplace chimney meets the siding;
- Any two different outside materials meet.
Use compounds that are flexible over large temperature changes and will last for many years. They may cost a little more, but they're worth it.
- Install switch and outlet gaskets.
- Stop drafts around electric light switches and wall outlets with inexpensive styrofoam or foam rubber gaskets which fit behind the cover plates.
- Seal air leaks into the attic.
- Weather-strip around the edges of the attic hatch or door to reduce the amount of warm air leaking into the attic from your living space. Also insulate the back of the hatch or door with a piece of fiberglass or rigid board insulation.
- Stuff gaps around chimneys with unfaced fiberglass batt. Seal any connections between the heated space and the attic, such as plumbing, vent stack openings, and the tops of interior and exterior walls or stairway framing.
STORM WINDOWS AND DOORS
Storm windows and doors are a second set of windows and doors. They provide insulation by creating air space between themselves and existing windows and doors. This air space reduces heat loss through the glass. Windows can lose heat through conduction or infiltration. Storm windows can be made of either glass or clear plastic and can be installed either inside or out. Clear plastic can be taped to the inside of the window frame. This doesn't last long, but it does reduce infiltration and conduction at a low cost and it's easy to install. Mylar is available instead of plastic - it does not tear and is easier to see through. A third method is rigid plastic purchased in a kit that consists of a self-adhesive frame and a clear plastic sheet that can be sized to the window. A more permanent method is to install storm windows made of glass with metal our vinyl frames.
SMART USE OF APPLIANCES
- Check your refrigerator and freezer temperatures to be sure the controls are set at the most economical positions. (Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer combination, the freezer should not be higher than 5°F. Separate freezers should be set at 0°F. The temperature of your refrigerator should be between 34° and 37°F.
- Position your refrigerator and freezer away from the direct flow of warm air, such as the oven or sunshine.
- Check the tightness of your refrigerator seals.
- Clean underneath the refrigerator every few months.
- If the freezer is not self-defrosting, don't allow the frost to accumulate more than 1/4 inch.
- Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator. This adds cold and reduces spoilage.
- Match the base of your pots and pans to the stove heating element so heat is not wasted around the sides.
- Use a minimum amount of water in a covered pan to cook foods.
- Use pans with clean flat bottoms for better heat conduction.
- Keep reflector pans under the heating element of the range clean. These pans reflect the heat and increase the efficiency of the range.
- When cooking with electricity, turn the element off several minutes before the allotted cooking time. The element stays hot long enough to finish the cooking without using more electricity.
- Use a pressure cooker instead of a regular saucepan to reduce cooking time.
- Thaw most frozen foods to refrigerator temperature before cooking.
- Preheat oven for the recommended amount of time only.
- Restrict opening the oven door to check on baking products.
- Don't use aluminum foil to line the oven unless the manufacturer's instructions permit.
- Never use the oven to heat your kitchen.
- When purchasing an electric range, consider that self-clean ovens use less energy for normal oven cooking because of increased insulation.
- Operate your dishwasher with a full load of dishes for maximum efficiency.
- Scrape excess food from your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. This prevents debris from entering the dishwasher pump and obstructing your dishwater's efficiency.
- Check the filter screen over the drain in your dishwasher regularly.
- Air dry your dishes whenever possible.
- Wash full loads or use smaller load settings.
- Don't over-wash clothes. Delicates don't need to wash as long as dirty work clothes.
- Use hot water ONLY when absolutely necessary.
- Clean the lint filter regularly.
- Operate dryer with a full load, but don't overload.
- Check often to be sure the dryer vent is not clogged.
- Place the dryer in a warm area. It will have to operate longer in an unheated area because cool air taken in must be warmed.
- Use the clothesline whenever possible.