Simple Tips to Use Electricity Wisely

Attic

  • Door or Hatch
    Weather-strip or insulate your attic door or hatch to prevent air from escaping from the top of your house.
  • Insulation
    Check current insulation levels, and properly insulate a new or existing home. Insulate ceilings, walls, and floors over unconditioned crawl spaces.
  • Vents
    Attics must be ventilated to relieve heat buildup caused by the sun. If necessary, improve attic airflow by adding or enlarging vents.

Basement

  • Heating Unit
    As much as half of your household energy use goes to heating and cooling. Replacing older equipment with more efficient equipment will help reduce your carbon footprint and your energy costs.

    Tune up your heating system in the fall to make sure that it will operate at maximum efficiency during the cold winter.
  • Air Conditioning Unit
    Check and clean or replace air filters every month. Clean the outside condenser coil once a year.

    Schedule periodic maintenance of cooling equipment by a licensed service representative. A "tune up" in the spring will help the air conditioner run at maximum efficiency during the hot weather.
  • Water Heater
    Reduce your water heating bill by 10 percent by lowering the water heater temperature from 140°F to 120F°. (Keep the temperature at 140°F if you use an older dishwasher without a temperature booster.)

    Once a year, drain a bucket of water from the bottom of the water heater tank. This gets rid of sediment, which can waste energy by "blocking" the water in the tank from the heating element.

    Locate water heaters as close to the points of hot water usage as possible. The longer the supply pipe, the more heat thatis lost.

    Insulate your hot water supply pipes to reduce heat loss. (Hardware stores sell pipe insulation kits.)

    For older water heaters, consider buying a water heater insulation kit, which reduces the amount of heat lost through the walls of the tank.

Bathroom

  • Sink
    To conserve water, use sink stoppers instead of letting water run while shaving.
  • Vanity Lights
    Bathroom vanity lights are one of the most used fixtures in the average home. Use energy-efficient lighting, which can provide bright, warm light while using less energy and generating less heat than standard bulbs.
  • Shower
    Install a new low-flow shower head to help you conserve water and save energy.
  • Toilet
    A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day. Be sure to repair all toilet and faucet leaks promptly.
  • Vent Fan
    An ENERGY STAR® qualified ventilation fan will control moisture in the air while saving energy. These fans are much quieter than standard models. Fans with efficient lighting and fan motors use 40 - 65 percent less energy, on average, than standard models.

Bedroom

  • Humidifier
    In the winter, the air is normally dry inside your house, which is a disadvantage because people typically require a higher temperature to be comfortable than they would in a humid environment. Therefore, efficient humidifiers are a good investment for energy conservation.
  • Lighting
    Provide task lighting over desks, tool benches, etc., so that activities can be carried on without illuminating entire rooms. Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient lighting.
  • Outlets
    Unplug any battery chargers or power adapters when electronics are fully charged or disconnected from the charger.
  • Cordless Phone
    ENERGY STAR® qualified cordless phones that feature switch-mode power supplies and "smart" chargers will reduce your carbon footprint and add to your energy savings.

Dining Room

  • Light Switch
    Compact fluorescent bulbs will give an incandescent bulb’s warm soft light, while using 75 percent less electricity. They also last about 10 times longer.
  • Thermostat
    Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust your home's temperature when you're away or sleeping.
  • Heating
    Locate the heating thermostat on an inside wall and away from windows and doors. Cold drafts will cause the thermostat to keep the system running even when the rest of the house is warm enough. Set the thermostat as low as comfort permits. Each degree over 68° F can add 2-3 percent to the amount of energy needed for heating.
  • Air conditioner
    Set your thermostat to 78° F, or as high as comfort permits. When the weather is mild, turn off the AC and open the windows.
  • Vents
    Close heating vents and radiator valves in unused rooms. Make sure that drapes, plants, or furniture do not block registers for supply or return air.

Exterior

  • Front Door
    Install storm doors at all entrances of the house.

    Weather-strip and caulk around all entrance doors and windows to limit air leaks that could account for 15-30 percent of heating and cooling energy requirements.
  • Garage
    Keep the overhead door of an attached garage closed to block cold winds from infiltrating the connecting door between the house and garage.
  • Outdoor Lights
    Install photoelectric controls or timers to make sure that outdoor lighting is turned off during the day. If using energy-efficient light bulbs, make sure that they are compatible with the controls.
  • Porch Light
    Install energy-efficient lighting in the front porch light—one of the most-used lighting fixtures in a home. If your porch light is connected to a timer or photocell, make sure the new light bulbs are compatible with the controls.
  • Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV)
    If you're in the market for a new car, consider buying a PEV—an exciting electric technology that will help boost our nation’s energy security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. PEVs are plugged in to the existing electricity system. That means you can use a standard electrical outlet to recharge your car battery at home. Owners can recharge their batteries overnight, using lower-cost, off-peak electricity. Smart grid technology will help PEV owners choose the best time of day to charge their vehicles.
  • Windows
    Double-glazed windows (two panes of glass separated by a sealed air space) cut heat transfer by 40-50 percent. In extremely cold regions, triple glazing could be economically justified.

    Single-glazed windows should have storm windows. A wood or metal frame storm window provides a second thickness of glass and a layer of still air that reduces heat transmission markedly.

Kitchen

  • Dishwasher
    Appliances account for as much as 20 percent of your energy bill. Newer, more efficient models save energy and water. If replacing your dishwasher, an ENERGY STAR® model is more than 35 percent more efficient than standards models.
  • Sink
    To conserve water, repair any leaky faucets promptly. Hot water leaking at a rate of one drip per second can waste up to 1,661 gallons of water in one year.
  • Refrigerator/Freezer
    Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when shopping for refrigerators or freezers. On average, ENERGY STAR® refrigerators use 15 - 20 percent less energy.

    Other tips:
    Keep your refrigerator at 37°- 40°F and your freezer at 5°F.

    Vacuum the condenser coils (underneath or behind the unit) every three months.

    Check the condition of door gaskets by placing a dollar bill against the frame and closing the door. If the bill can be pulled out with a very gentle tug, the door should be adjusted or the gasket replaced.

    Do not put uncovered liquids in the refrigerator. The liquids give off vapors that add to the compressor workload.
  • Microwave
    Use your microwave oven whenever possible. It draws less than half the power of its conventional oven counterpart and cooks for a much shorter amount of time.
  • Range/Oven
    Only use pots and pans with flat bottoms on the stove. Use the right-sized pot on stove burners. A six-inch pot on an eight-inch burner wastes more than 40 percent of the burner's heat.

    Develop the habit of "lids-on" cooking to permit lower temperature settings. Keep reflector pans beneath stovetop heating elements bright and clean.

    Begin cooking on highest heat until liquid begins to boil. Then lower the heat control settings and allow food to simmer until fully cooked.

    Cook as much of the meal in the oven at one time as possible. Variations of 25°F still produce good results and save energy.

    Rearrange oven shelves before turning your oven on—and don't peek at food in the oven! Every time you open the oven door, 25° to 50°F is lost.
  • Trash
    Help save valuable resources by recycling your newspapers, plastic and glass containers, and paper products.

Laundry Room

  • Clothes Dryer
    Use the moisture sensor option so that the dryer turns off automatically when clothes are dry. Or, dry your clothes on a clothesline outside.
  • Clothes Washer
    Follow detergent instructions carefully. Adding too much detergent actually hampers effective washing action and may require more energy in the form of extra rinses.

    Wash only full loads of laundry. Wash clothes in cold water. Sort laundry and schedule washes so that a complete job can be done with a few cycles of the machine carrying its full capacity, rather than a greater number of cycles with light loads.

    If you're looking to buy a new washing machine, consider using a front-loading or horizontal axis machine. These new units use 30 percent less water and 50 percent less energy to make hot water and wash clothes than regular washing machines.

Living Room

  • Ceiling Fan
    In the winter: If your ceiling fan has a switch that allows you to reverse the motor, you can operate the fan at a low speed in the opposite direction. This produces a gentle updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling down into the living space.

    In the summer: Run the blades counter-clockwise (downward) to cool more efficiently. Turning up the thermostat by just two degrees and using your ceiling fan can lower AC costs by up to 4-6 percent over the course of the cooling season. Don't forget to turn the ceiling fan off when you leave the room.
  • Fireplace
    Make sure your fireplace has tightly fitting dampers that can be closed when the fireplace is not in use. Seal hidden air leaks in your chimney. If you have a gas fireplace, turn off the pilot light when not in use.
  • Lamps
    Put lamps in corners of rooms where they can reflect light from two wall surfaces instead of one. If you don’t like the “look” of compact fluorescent lighting, consider high-efficiency halogen lighting. For example, a 100-watt incandescent bulb can be replaced by a 72-watt or 70-watt halogen bulb.
  • Entertainment Center
    The average home uses nearly 25 electronic products - 99 percent of which must be plugged in or recharged. TVs, DVD players, video games, and cable boxes should be turned off when not in use.

Better still, switching to electronic equipment with the ENERGY STAR® label will help save additional energy even when they are turned off.

Windows
In warm weather, close your blinds and curtains during the hottest part of the day. During cold weather, keep curtains open during the daylight hours to take advantage of the sun's warmth.

Office

  • Computer and Monitor
    Do not use a screen saver when your computer monitor is active. Instead, let it switch to sleep mode or turn the monitor off.
  • Printer, Fax, Copier
    Save energy and space with a multi-function device that combines several capabilities—such as print, fax, copy, and scan. Enable power management features for additional savings. Turn off machines when not in use.

    Set office equipment to automatically switch to sleep mode. This will help equipment to save energy, to run cooler, and to last longer.

    When purchasing new home office products, look for the ENERGY STAR® label to save energy.
  • Power Strip
    Use a power strip as a central "turn off" point when you are finished using equipment. This will help eliminate the standby power consumption used by office equipment even when it is turned off.