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Lowering Your Energy Consumption

There are some simple steps you can take to cut your energy consumption.

Turning off appliances.

TVs, VCRs, DVD player’s computers and printers, stereos, microwaves, coffee machines, washers and dryers and rechargeable power tools use electricity around the clock. You think they may be off, but they are still running.

  • Unplug appliances directly from the wall outlets when not in use. To make the job easier, plug your electronics on a power strip and switch off the power strip after you are finished using them.
  • If you are not going to be using your computer for a while and don’t want to shut it down, simply turn off your monitor. Screen savers do not reduce the amount of energy used.

Refrigerator/Freezer

  • Set the temperature in your refrigerator between 38° and 42° F; your freezer should be set between 0°F and 5°F.
  • Keep them full. It takes less energy to cool a full refrigerator than an empty one.
  • Twice a year, clean the condenser coils that are located on the bottom or the back side of most models.
  • Check the seals and replace any that are cracked or worn.
  • Open the refrigerator door less.
  • Let food cool before storing in the refrigerator.
  • Always cover everything. Humidity escapes from uncovered foods, which causes the compressor to work harder.
  • Replace worn out or inefficient appliances with Energy Star® models.

Range/Microwave

  • Use your microwave for most cooking. A microwave does small and medium cooking jobs more efficiently than an oven or range top.
  • Choose the right pan for the job. When using the range top, remember that pans with flat bottoms heat more efficiently than those without.

Other appliances

  • Wash only full loads in the dishwasher.
  • Wash clothes in cold water on the economy cycle and always have a full load.
  • Don’t over dry clothes in the dryer. Use air dry clothes on the lightweight loads. Hand clothes on a drying rack or outside in the summer.

Water-related tips

  • Install energy-efficient shower heads and faucet aerators.
  • Heat water to the right temperature (120°F). Some dishwashers require the temperature to be slightly higher.
  • Repair leaks at once. • Insulate hot and cold water pipes. • Turn your water heater off when you plan to be away for more than five days. • Take a shower instead of a bath. The average bath uses twice as much hot water as a five minute shower. • Do not leave the faucet running while you wash dishes, brush teeth or shave.

Windows and doors

  • Apply weather stripping to stop drafts around doors and windows. Beneath doors, install draft guards available at most hardware stores.
  • Caulk smaller cracks. Most homes have cracks and leaks that are equal to a 2’x2’ open window. For large cracks without moving parts, such as in walls, floors or foundations, apply spray foam insulation.
  • Double insulate windows. An economical alternative is plastic sheeting.
  • Use drapes to insulate. Keep drapes closed to keep warm air in. Keep them open to allow the sun’s rays to help warm chilled rooms.

Lighting your home

  • Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs in the light fixtures used often. Traditional incandescent bulbs are not energy efficient.
  • If you’re not in the room, you don’t need the light on. Try to get into the habit of turning off the lights.
  • Use low-wattage bulbs where applicable like closets.
  • Dust off light bulbs.
  • Paint and decorate in light colors, Dark colors absorb light, light colors reflect light.
  • Install dimmers in areas where dimmed lighting makes sense, like the dining room. And bedroom.
  • Use task lighting. If you’re working diligently at a desk or workbench, other lights in the room could be turned off or dimmed.

Keeping warm

  • Keep the thermostat between 65° and 68°F.
  • Add extra insulation.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters monthly. Shake reusable filters outside or spray them with a garden house. Make sure they are dry before replacing.
  • Close your chimney damper as soon as you are sure the fire is completely out.
  • Use sweaters and blankets. Throw an extra blanket on the bed.
  • A ceiling or portable fan running at a very low speed can help distribute warm air more evenly and reduce the desire to turn up the heat.
  • Keep drapes and blinds closed.
  • Check heat ducts for leaks. Any you find should be sealed tightly using mastic. Ducts in unheated areas should be insulated.
  • Keep heating vents unobstructed.

Staying Cool

  • Air conditioner filter should be cleaned or replaced once a month during use.
  • Keep an unobstructed air flow.
  • Maintain 78°F. For every degree you lower the temperature, the energy costs rise by 6%. A temperature setting of 75°F costs 18% more; a 72°F setting costs 36% more.
  • Use a programmable thermostat.
  • In the summer, proper amounts of insulation in walls, attics and crawlspaces helps keep warm air outside.
  • Plant shade trees that lose their leaves in the winter. Not only will shade trees absorb the radiant heat before it hits your roof, planting trees helps clean the air too.
  • Install a ceiling fan above the area where you spend most of your time.