Reduce your energy usage. Increase your savings.
We’ve compiled this list of energy saving ideas to make your home and business more energy efficient and comfortable. Most of these ideas are easy to do and take only a few minutes to perform. By reducing energy usage in your area, we can help you keep your energy costs down as well as benefit the environment.
Spring-cleaning involves making sure all the fans in your home are working properly and are dust-free. Regularly wash or replace filters. Consider installing a timer switch on your bathroom fan, so that it runs only as long as it is required.
Make sure you change the direction of airflow on your ceiling fan. In the winter, let the fan push warm air toward the floor and in summer, switch the direction and draw air upward, cooling the room and ensuring constant airflow.
In preparing for the summer, consider investing in some insulated, thermal-backed drapes for your windows. They’ll help keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter.
Before buying an air conditioning unit or system, find out its seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). Calculate the SEER by dividing the unit’s cooling capacity (BTU’s/hour) by its energy requirement (watts). An SEER of 15 or more is very good, and 13 is minimal requiement. Remember to buy the smallest capacity unit or system that will meet your needs.
Have you ever thought about installing an attic ventilator? An attic ventilating system draws cool air up through the house and can provide the same level of comfort as an air conditioner at a much lower cost. Pump in cool air during summer evenings then seal your home during the day. Attic ventilation can help lower winter heating bills too.
Have a look at your foundation walls. If you have an unfinished basement or crawlspace, check for air leaks by looking for spider webs. If there’s a web, there’s a draft. A large amount of heat is also lost from an un-insulated basement.
Does your home have a sliding glass door? Make sure to keep its track clean. A dirty track can ruin the door’s seal and create gaps where heat or cold air can escape.
If you have the choice, consider choosing an electric-powered lawn mower. Gas-powered lawn mowers emit greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change where as, electric-powered lawn mowers don’t emit such gases.
When dust and pet hair build up on your refrigerator’s condenser coils, the motor works harder and uses more electricity. As part of your spring-cleaning routine, make sure the coils are cleaned and air can circulate freely.
Don’t forget to check the seals on your refrigerator door to make sure they are clean and tight. Your refrigerator accounts for up to 11 percent of your household’s total energy use, which can have a major impact on your energy bill.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a new appliance, always look for the ENERGY STAR® label on new appliances. These products are more energy efficient and can help reduce your energy costs.
Consider installing an automatic setback thermostat that turns off your air conditioner at night.
Opening windows in the summer costs nothing, but it can save a lot of energy and money. Consider keeping your windows open in the evening and overnight to allow cooler air into your home, and don’t forget to turn off your air conditioner. Close the windows during the day to keep the cool air in and the warm air out.
Ceiling fans use less electricity than air conditioners or furnaces. For example, a ceiling fan costs about five cents an hour to operate, which is much less than an air conditioner.
Did you know that you use three to five percent more energy for each degree that your air conditioner is set below 75 degrees Fahrenheit? So, set your thermostat to 77 degrees Fahrenheit to provide the most comfort at the least cost.
Those living in rural areas can save on energy costs by planting trees and shrubs as windbreaks. Windbreaks around your home can reduce wind by up to 50 percent and heating costs by 20 to 40 percent. Even in calm areas, windbreaks can reduce energy costs by 10 percent. Place your windbreak at right angles to the prevailing winter winds. Even a few well-placed trees can make a difference.
Use awnings and overhangs to keep the sun out of south-facing windows in the summers, then take down the awnings to let the sun shine in during the winter. You could even plan the overhangs so that they’ll shade windows from the high summer sun, but let in the lower winter sun.
Consider upgrading the windows in your home. Select high efficiency windows with low-e coatings, argon gas fill and insulated spacers.
Have you ever wondered what would happen to your electricity bills, if you allowed your staff to wear more casual clothes during the summer months? Wearing comfortable, lightweight clothing during the hot weather, rather than business suits, could help reduce your air conditioning bills.
Did you know that a reflective roof could reduce the roof surface temperature by up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your climate? A reflective roof prevents the sun’s heat from transferring into the home or building.
Seal all leaks around doors, windows, and electrical outlets. Heat from your home escapes out of these cracks. By sealing these leaks you can save up to 20 percent on your heating bill and the cost of materials is under $20.
Fall is the best time to clean the chimney and get vent systems checked. Pipes must be properly connected and there should be no signs of rust or damage.
It’s also time to remove the window air conditioners for the winter. If they must stay in place, be sure to seal them with caulking or tape and cover them with an airtight, insulated jacket.
If you are thinking of replacing your furnace, consider getting one that’s rated 90 percent or higher in efficiency. Replacing your old furnace with a new, more energy efficient one can save up to 30 percent of your heating costs. Remember to look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
Is your insulation up to par? For a minimal cost, you can upgrade the insulation in your exterior walls, crawlspaces, basements and attics. Insulation may come in batts or loose fill, which can be blown into place and get those hard to reach places.
Did you know you can lose heat through your electrical outlets, light switches and lighting fixtures? Consider installing foam gaskets behind these outlets and switches or install plastic security caps to reduce heat loss.
If you have single-pane windows, add storm windows to cut heat loss by up to 50 percent. Better yet replace single-pane windows with energy-efficient double-pane windows with inert argon gas fill, warm-edge spacers and low-e coating.
Make sure your heating vents aren’t blocked by furniture or drapes and the dampers are open. Vacuum out dust and pet hair from warm air registers and cold air returns so your furnace runs more efficiently.
It’s time to take a look at your water heater. If its surface is hot or even warm, some of the energy used to heat the water is being wasted. Wrap the heater in an insulating blanket. Be sure to check your user manual and labels on the tank first.
If you’re building a new home make sure you place the water heater as close as possible to the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms. Heat is lost as it moves through long pipes so the closer the unit is to these rooms, the more money you could save.
Did you know that if you never run out of hot water, then you’ve probably set your hot water thermostat too high? Before the winter comes, set your thermostat between 110 degrees Fahrenheit and 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put on a sweater and lower your thermostat by 2 degrees Fahrenheit and you could save as much as 4 percent on your heating bill.
If you throw down a rug, you’ll not only help insulate your floors, but you’ll cut down on the noise too.
Install a furnace filter alarm on your furnace. This will let you know when it is time to change your filters. These alarms will make a whistling sound when they sense that the filters are dirty.
Don’t forget to check your furnace filter monthly during the winter months and replace it if it’s dirty. Keeping your furnace properly maintained will reduce energy consumption and could save you up to 5 percent on your heating costs.
Keep supply and return air vents clear of furniture and appliances so your furnace can work more efficiently.
Did you know that heat recovery ventilators improve indoor air quality by expelling stale indoor air continuously and using its heat to pre-heat the incoming fresh air? Installing one of these may give you the added savings you’re looking for on your next energy bill.
Avoid heating areas that are not insulated, such as a garage, crawlspace, attic or storage sheds.
Avoid heating unused rooms by closing doors and warm air supply registers.
Save up to 10 percent on your heating bill by programming your thermostat to a lower temperature at night and after you leave for work. It’s recommended that you don’t reduce the temperature more than 3 – 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
When using your wood-burning fireplace, spilt wood into pieces that are 4-6-inches in diameter. The wood will burn more cleanly with more surface area exposed to the flame.
Don’t use your fireplace at all when the outside temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The infiltration of cold air into your house through the open flue wastes more heat than is gained.
Consider installing a fireplace thermostat to help you control your room temperature.
To check if a door provides good insulation, place your hand against it from the inside. If it feels cooler than the inside walls, it might be time to install a door that’s better insulated. Install fully insulated doors on all entrances to garages, cold storage rooms and un-insulated basements.
Not ready to replace your furnace? A tune-up can save 3 to 10 percent on your next heating bill. Don’t forget to clean or replace your furnace filter regularly for even more savings.
Insulate! Insulate! Insulate! Have a look at your attic. To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure its thickness. If there is less than R-22 (7 inches of fiberglass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose) you could probably benefit by adding more. And while you’re up there, consider installing some roof vents and inlets to improve ventilation.
Clear plastic sheeting on your windows can add more insulation and reduce icy drafts with minimal effort and minimal cost.
Tip! Cranking up the heat to warm the house quickly doesn’t work. The house will warm up at the same rate, regardless of the temperature setting.
Don’t lose heated air up your chimney! The chimney acts like an open window. Be sure your damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use. Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Consider installing tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warm air into the room.
When you do use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly and close the doors into the room. Lower your thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
Open the drapes or blinds on sunny days and bask in the ‘free’ heat. Keep those south-facing windows squeaky clean to let the light through. Remember to close the drapes or blinds when the sun sets.
Adding a humidifier to your heating system may allow you to turn your thermostat down and be comfortable at lower temperatures. PS: Aquariums and houseplants can add humidity too.
Americans rely heavily on electrical lighting during the long, dark winter nights. Help conserve energy by installing automatic timers, motion sensors, dimmers, and solar cells at your house.
Did you know that halogen lighting uses up to 40 percent less energy than traditional bulbs? Halogen lighting is also excellent for gardens and pathways.
Did you know it costs approximately $2.55 per year to light one room for one hour each day? Remember to switch off the lights when you leave a room and you’ll save money.
During the winter months, don’t forget to keep the garage door tightly closed as much as possible. In doing so, you’ll retain warmer air against the garage-side wall of the house and it will act as a buffer against the colder outdoor air.
When cooking on a gas stove, make sure that the flame heats only the bottom of the pot. It’s not only dangerous for the flame to reach the side of the pot, it’s also a waste of energy.
Did you know that pre-heating your oven really isn’t necessary? Pre-heated ovens are required mostly for baking bread and pastry, it’s not always required for other foods.
Make sure lids fit tightly on pots and keep lids on when cooking. You’ll save up to 20 percent more energy and your food will also cook more quickly and evenly.
Don’t forget to turn off the stove two to three minutes before the end of the proper cooking time. The element will stay hot, while the food continues to cook, and you’ll save money.
Consider using small appliances such as microwaves or toaster ovens to cook or re-heat foods.
When using the oven, turn on oven light to check food and keep pre-heating to a minimum.
To maximize the efficiency of your fridge and freezer, set the temperature of your fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure you’ve got it just right, pick up a fridge thermometer at a major appliance dealer.
Did you know that chest freezers are generally more efficient than upright models? That’s because lifting the door on a chest unit releases less of the freezer’s cold air. Open the door on an upright freezer, however, and the cold air flows down and out.
Do you have an extra freezer in the garage or basement? If you’re not using it, then unplug the second refrigerator or freezer unless you really need those items. This is particularly important if they are older, less-efficient models.
Make the most of your freezer. Match the size of your freezer with your needs. If you can get by with just your fridge freezer, then unplug your deep freezer and save energy.
Regularly clean the filter at the bottom of your dishwasher to keep the machine running efficiently.
Did you know that rinsing your dishes may not be necessary? Some people rinse their dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher. Don’t bother – you’ll save more water and energy by scraping all excess food off plates and cutlery. Your dishwasher will do the rest.
When using your clothes dryer, dry only full loads, which will reduce your energy usage. Clothes of similar weight should also be dried together.
When purchasing your next clothes dryer, buy one with a sensor that will turn off the machine automatically when the clothes are dry. This will help save energy and may reduce your electricity bill too.
Don’t forget – it’s important to dry loads consecutively, so that you can take advantage of the heat already in the dryer.
If you have a load of clothes that are extra dirty, use your washing machine’s pre-soak cycle instead of washing your clothes twice.
Did you know that studies have shown that clothes rinsed in cold water come out just as clean as those rinsed in warm water? Rinse in cold water and you’ll save money on your water-heating bill. To save even more, wash in warm rather than hot water.
Install low-flow showerheads and fix leaky faucets. The low-flow showerheads cost about $15 each. Heating water can account for 25 percent of your home energy costs and showers can be one of the biggest contributions to overall hot water use. A low-flow showerhead can reduce this by as much as half.
Turn off your computer when you’re not using it. A computer that runs 24 hours a day uses between $75 and $120 worth of electricity each year-more power than an energy-efficient refrigerator! In standby mode, your computer’s energy use can be reduced to $15.
Don’t forget to pull the plug and save. Battery chargers, such as those for laptops, cell phones and digital cameras, draw power whenever they are plugged in and are very inefficient.
Did you know that starting-up and shutting-down your computer do not use any extra energy, nor are they hard on your computer components? In fact shutting-down your computer when you are finished, actually reduces the wear and saves energy.
If your computer must be left on, make sure you turn off the monitor. The monitor uses more than half the system’s energy.
It’s been said a million times before, but we should all be using as little paper as possible. Try using e-mail, rather than faxing and photocopying. Not only is it quicker and less expensive, but it’s healthier for the environment. Don’t forget to recycle your paper as much as possible too. Every little bit counts.
Did you know that photocopiers are by far the most energy intensive office machines? To reduce your company’s energy use, only photocopy what you need and remember to shut off the copier when it’s not being used.
Did you know that even the location of your lamps or TV sets can have an impact on your energy bills? Don’t place these appliances near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat can sense heat, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
When you’re looking for new lamps, consider purchasing three-way lamps, they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary.
Have you thought about dedicated compact fluorescent fixtures with built-in ballasts for your new light fixtures? These fixtures use pin-based replacement bulbs, which are more energy efficient than conventional bulbs.
Did you know that if you overfill your refrigerator, it will use up more energy than if you overfilled your freezer? The overfilled refrigerator blocks air circulation, which can make the motor work harder, but the overfilled freezer will perform better than an empty one.
Before you put leftovers in the fridge, you might want to let the hot food cool down first. In doing so, you’ll prevent your refrigerator from working extra hard and using valuable electricity.
When you’re next making a cup of tea, consider using the electric kettle to boil your water, rather than the stove. Heating up an element on the stove is less efficient than an electric kettle.
Did you know that if you regularly clean your electric kettle with boiling water and vinegar, you’ll remove the mineral deposits inside and make it more energy efficient? It’s true.
Next time you’re thinking of frying some eggs, reach for the electric frying pan, rather than using the stove. An electric frying pan uses less electricity than a conventional stovetop to cook the same amount of food.
Did you know that cooking on a barbeque will save energy during hot weather, as compared to, indoor conventional cooking? This is because indoor cooking heats up the air in your home and potentially increases your air conditioning needs.
After each load of laundry, be sure to clean the lint screen. Not only does a clogged filter increase your energy use by about 30 percent, but it can also be a fire hazard.
Don’t forget to use power bars for your home entertainment system or home office. Just remember to turn off the power bar when you’re not using it and this will prevent you from wasting electricity.
Did you know that contrary to popular belief, less energy is consumed when lights are turned off and on, as you come and go, than if a light is left on all the time.
Did you know that a 100-watt incandescent bulb uses less energy than two 60-watt bulbs, but it produces the same amount of light?
Did you know that a standard incandescent bulb uses only five to eight percent of its energy to produce light? The rest of the energy is dissipated as heat.
Don’t forget to be energy efficient at the office too. Make sure you set all your office equipment to the energy saving mode, if possible. This will enable your equipment to “go to sleep” when you’re not using it.
Have you ever thought of installing smart power strips on your office equipment? These strips can sense the presence or absence of people in the room and will turn on and off the attached equipment depending on the circumstances. This can help reduce your electricity usage.
Did you know that lap top computers use up to 90 percent less energy than a standard computer? Maybe it’s time to make the switch?
Choose the smallest computer monitor that will meet your needs. The bigger the monitor, the more energy it uses. For example, a 17-inch monitor consumes approximately 35 percent more electricity than a 14-inch monitor.
Have you ever thought of having an energy audit conducted in your home or office? It may be one of the best investments you can make.
When purchasing appliances, use the Energy Guide label to compare the performance of equipment to help you make the most energy efficient choice.
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