Energy Saving Tips
The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance offers the following tips to consumers to help save money on their energy bills. Whether cooling in the summer, or heating in the winter, there are great options for consumers to save a lot of money and a lot of energy. There are also a lot of tips that will save you money regardless of the time of year. By following even a few of these tips, you can start to see savings on your next bill, and the more steps you take, the more your potential savings.
Summertime Energy Saving Tips
Warmer temperatures and rising gas prices signal the start of the cooling season. Consumers who take a proactive approach, by reducing their energy use, can help alleviate the increase in their energy bills.
Dial Up the Thermostat
Dial up your thermostat a few degrees. Each degree you dial up above 72 degrees reduces your cooling bill by approximately 3%.
Install an ENERGY STAR-qualified programmable thermostat to automatically dial up at night and during the day when your house is unoccupied.
Improve Your Home Cooling
Have your air conditioner inspected by a qualified contractor to make sure it is operating efficiently and delivering the maximum energy savings.
Clean washable air filters or replace disposable air filters regularly during the cooling season. Dirty filters block the airflow in the home, causing the air conditioner to work harder and less economically.
Don't let the sunshine heat up your home. Keep blinds or drapes of sun-exposed windows closed in the daytime when nobody is home to block out solar heat, and open them at night to allow heat buildup to escape.
Seal leaky ducts and insulate them where they pass through uncooled areas such as attics or crawl spaces.
Wintertime Energy Saving Tips
As the temperature gets colder and we start to turn on the heat, there can be a lot of energy lost. MEEA offers the following winter energy savings tips for consumers to take a proactive approach to keeping warm while saving money:
Dial Down the Thermostat
Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees during the day. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you'll save up to 5 percent on heating costs.
Set the thermostat at 55 degrees or turn it off at night and when you leave home for an extended time. This can save 5-20 percent of your heating costs.
Install an ENERGY STAR-qualified programmable thermostat to automatically dial down the temperature at night and during the day when your house is unoccupied.
Improve Your Home Heating
Replace or clean your furnace filters once a month, and get your furnace tuned-up. Proper furnace maintenance can save up to 5 percent of energy costs.
Let the sunshine in to help heat your home. Keep blinds or drapes of sun-exposed windows open in the daytime and closed at night to conserve heat.
Replace old windows, glass doors and skylights with ENERGY STAR products. Double-paned, low-emissivity coatings can reduce energy costs by 34 percent compared to uncoated, single-pane windows. Learn more about the Federal tax incentives currently available for replacing your old windows here.
Rearrange your furniture so you are not sitting in a draft. Sitting near interior walls will keep you warmer than if you sit by exterior walls and windows.
Traditional fireplaces are an energy loser - it's best not to use them because they pull heated air out of the house and up the chimney. When not in use, make absolutely sure the damper is closed. Before closing the damper, make sure that you don't have any smoldering embers. If you decide not to use a fireplace, then block off the chimney with a piece of rigid insulation from the hardware store that fits snugly into the space (dampers don't shut fully without some leaking).
All-Season Energy Savings Tips
Of course, there are some energy savings tips that help out all year round. Whether cooling in the summer or heating in the winter, or enjoying the spring and fall when you aren't doing either one, the following tips can help you save money and energy.
Plug Energy Leaks and Insulate
Check your home's first line of defense against the elements - walls, floors, roof, windows, and doors. Seal leaks between moving parts (between door and frame) with weather stripping. Fill leaks between nonmoving parts (between window frame and wall) with caulking.
Appropriate insulation for your climate zone can reduce wintertime heating costs and summertime cooling costs up to 30%. A calculator for insulation recommendations for your climate zone can be found at the Oak Ridge National Lab's ZIP Code Insulation Program website.
More about insulation can be found from the U.S. DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website.
Heat Your Water Efficiently
Reduce hot water temperature. Set your water heater to the "normal" setting or 120 degrees F, unless the owner's manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting.
Wrap your water heater with jacket insulation, following the recommendations of the manufacturer.
Savings from these two steps can be 7-11 percent of water heating costs.
Watch out for "voltage vampires"
Unplug electronics such as TVs, VCRs, DVD players, game consoles, and appliances when not in use, or put them on a switchable power strip that you can turn off, because they consume power even when not being used.
Unplug your cell phone, laptop computer, and other electronic device chargers when your battery is fully charged or when the power cord is not in use. The "power brick" transformers continue to use electricity whenever they are plugged in.
Light Up Efficiently
Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) whenever possible. CFL bulbs use 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. Get them now for a discounted price through the Change a Light, Change the World Campaign!
For example, if you replace your four most used 100-watt incandescent bulbs with four comparable 23-watt compact fluorescent bulbs to save $108 over three years. If all U.S. households did this, we could save as much energy as is produced by 30 power plants annually.
Turn off your lights when you are not using them. Turn lights on when you enter a room and turn them off when you leave to go to another room.
Popular halogen torchiere lamps may be cheap to purchase, but they are expensive to operate and waste a lot of electricity as heat instead of light. The high temperatures of these lamps can even cause fires. Consider safer, more efficient ENERGY STAR fluorescent torchiere lamps instead.
If you need to leave some lights on when you are not home, install timers, motion detectors or daylight sensors. Motion detectors on exterior floodlights improve your home security at a lower operating cost.
Replace Inefficient Products
Replace older, inefficient heating and cooling (HVAC) equipment with ENERGY STAR products, which earn 90% or higher efficiency ratings.
Choose ENERGY STAR products when you replace your hot water heater and furnace. Replacing your old heating/cooling equipment with ENERGY STAR products can cut your annual energy costs by 20 percent.
Seal all ductwork in both conditioned and especially unconditioned airspace with mastic in order to improve the efficiency of your ductwork. Although the word "duct tape" implies its use to seal ducts, it is not effective and should not be used in this application.
Replace leaky, inefficient or broken windows with ENERGY STAR windows rated by NFRC for your climate zone. Information can be found at the ENERGY STAR Residential Windows, Doors, and Skylights website.
When replacing other appliances like your clothes washer, refrigerator and other home appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR logo, which guarantees that the appliance you buy is at least 15% more efficient than an unrated version.