Set the temperature on water heaters to 120°F, and install an insulating blanket on the water heater (which should pay for itself in less than a year). Consider replacing old units with an ultra-efficient heat pump water heater. Heat pump water heating technology is up to three times more efficient than standard natural gas, propane or electric resistance water heaters.
Replace aging, inefficient appliances. Look for the Energy Star® label to select energy-efficient models.
Wash full loads of laundry using cold water when possible. Don’t over-dry clothes, and clean the dryer’s lint filter after every load to maximize air circulation.
Use the energy-saving settings on refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes dryers. Air-dry dishes by opening the dishwasher instead of using the heated drying cycle.
Keep your refrigerator or freezer at recommended temperatures of 37°F to 40°F for the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer. Have the coils cleaned annually.
Cook smarter. Match the size of the pan to the heating element. Use electric pans, toaster ovens or microwaves for small meals. You will use less energy and reduce cooking time.
Turn off the television when no one is watching. Today’s state-of-the-art, high definition sets offer amazing viewing, but some use more electricity than older televisions. Look for the Energy Star® label to select energy-efficient models.
Shut down the computer. Conserve energy by turning off or using sleep mode for computers not in use for two hours or more.
Service accordingly. Have heating and cooling systems tuned up in the fall and spring. Make sure ductwork is intact and sealed properly.
Clean or replace filters on air conditioners and heat pumps regularly.
Use an air conditioner with a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of 13 or higher. Use the proper size for your home. If building a new home, consider installing an energy-efficient geothermal system to cool and heat the home. Contact a reputable HVAC contractor to properly size the required unit.
Insulate. Make sure insulation levels are appropriate in the attic, exterior and basement walls, ceilings, floors and crawl spaces. You can increase the comfort of your home and reduce annual heating and cooling usage just by investing in proper insulation.
Energy-efficient homes do not require thermostat manipulation. Since personal comfort is subjective, simply choose a setting that is pleasing to you. Then set and forget. Moving thermostats up and down while the home is unoccupied causes the interior climate (dew point, relative humidity and temperature) to change. Upon returning home, additional energy and equipment run times are required to restore the desired comfort level. This practice results in little to no appreciable energy savings. However, a further reduction of, or raising of the AC set points will save energy when they are adjusted then left alone.
Replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs which are six to seven times more energy-efficient and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Today’s LED bulbs cut energy use by more than 80%.
Turn off lights in rooms you aren’t using, or install timers or occupancy sensors to reduce light consumption.
Landscape smart. 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.
Humidity is a factor. To avoid raising the temperature indoors during summer months, take baths or showers and wash dishes early in the morning or in the evening instead of during the day, and use an outside clothesline rather than a dryer. Replace old or worn-out bathroom exhaust fans with humidity-sensing units.
Unwanted air infiltration makes your home uncomfortable and increases utility bills. Caulk and seal cracks and holes that allow outside air to infiltrate into your home, or conditioned air to escape from it. Look for signs of air infiltration around walls, ceilings, doors, windows, recessed ceiling lights, plumbing penetrations, and electrical switches and outlets. Use non-expanding foam insulation around doors and windows.
Inspect single-pane and old windows. Boost their efficiency with weather-stripping or replace with energy-efficient models. Select new windows with a U-factor of .30 or lower and with low-emissivity (low-E) coatings. Window coatings save energy, especially on west-facing windows. For most residential applications, low-E coatings are sufficient. They can cut heat gain by up to 25 percent without changing a window’s appearance. Consult with an energy auditor before replacing windows.