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Efficient energy tips

As we use (and depend on) electricity more and more in our society, it makes sense to find ways to use that electricity efficiently – for the benefit of your wallet, the benefit of the electrical grid, and the benefit of the environment.

Little changes in your home or lifestyle can add up fast, and you’ll notice a difference on your energy bill. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve gathered some helpful advice to get the most value out of your electricity.

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Tips for your home or lifestyle

Home Heating & Cooling

Because heating and cooling account for nearly half of your electric usage, here are several simple suggestions you can try to help you save on your electric bill:

  • Tighten and weatherstrip your old windows and then add storm windows.
  • Compare the above cost with replacing your old single-glazed windows with new double-glazed windows.
  • “Low-e” coatings on glass can help reduce heat loss through windows.
  • Close your curtains and shades at night; open them during the day.
  • Lock windows. It tightens the seal to stop heat leaks.
  • If you have R-19 or less insulation in your attic, consider bringing it up to R-49.
  • If you have R-11 or less floor insulation, consider bringing it up to R-25.
  • Insulating basement walls can save you up to 20% on heating costs and make your home more comfortable.
  • Rim joists should be insulated and sealed.
  • Seal around pipe penetration coming through the walls.
  • Ensure that the weatherstripping around doors is tight.
  • When your fireplace is not operating, its flue should be closed tightly, with a sign hanging from the flue handle warning it is closed.
  • Whole-house attic fans should be sealed tightly during the winter.
Windows & Insulation

A considerable amount of heat transfers through windows, cracks and crevices in your home. If you have single-pane windows and/or want to reinforce your insulation, consider doing the following:

  • Turn down the thermostat. Reduce the temperature from 70 degrees to 65 degrees while you’re home. Turn it down to 60 degrees or 55 degrees while you’re away or asleep, and cut your heating bill by 10-15%.
  • Run the furnace fan in “auto” mode instead of “fan on” mode.
  • Setting your thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer will save you 3% per degree on heating and cooling costs.
  • Open shades to let in the sun’s warmth – close them at night to keep heat inside.
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems should be checked to verify they are moving the correct amount of air. A qualified technician can assist you.
  • Heat pump and air conditioning systems should be checked annually to verify they are properly charged, strictly in accordance with manufacturers’ guidelines.
  • Keep inside and outside coils clean and free of debris.
  • Return filters should be changed monthly.
  • Have a technician check carefully for duct leaks. Leaks that are found should be sealed with fiberglass and mastic sealant.
  • Rather than turning on the central air conditioner, use a fan to circulate air and open windows.
  • Make sure draperies or furniture do no block heat registers.
Water Heating

Up to 20% of residential energy use is for water heating. Depending on the number of people in your home, the percentage could be greater. Follow these tips to save some of that energy:

  • Make sure your water heater is set at the lowest point. Try to set it at 120 degrees.
  • Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank. If your water heater is located in an unconditioned space, consider installing a thermal wrap around it. Take care to install it in accordance with the tank and wrap manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Drain a quart of water from your water tank every three months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater.
  • Buy a new, more efficient model of water heater.
  • Try washing clothes with warm water and rinsing with cold water.
  • Repair leaky faucets immediately so they don’t drip and waste hot water.
  • Take short showers instead of baths. A typical bath uses 30 gallons of hot water compared to 18 gallons used for a five-minute shower.
  • Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.
  • Clean your showerhead periodically; scaling and sediment can collect and reduce water flow, using more hot water than needed.

Making improvements to your home’s lighting is one of the fastest and easiest ways to lower your energy bill and doesn’t require a major investment of money or your time. Here are simple ideas that will cost you little or nothing but can help reduce your energy bill:

  • Don’t leave unnecessary lights on during the day.
  • Make sure all the lights are turned off or use an energy-saving light.
  • Consider replacing your home’s five most frequently used incandescent bulbs with energy-saving options such as CFLs or LEDs, which use about 25-80% less energy than traditional incandescents and last 3-25 times longer.
  • Take a look at the lighting you use at night for security. Check with your local cooperative or municipal to see if they can help you save money by installing a pole-mounted outdoor light.
  • Motion sensor, photocell or LED lights can provide security lighting while saving you energy.
  • LED holiday lights use up to 90% less energy than traditional lights, last for many years and require no bulb changes.
Appliances & Electronics

Appliances and electronics can account for a fifth of your energy bill, and often energy is being consumed when the technology is sitting idle. Here are some ideas to help you save:

  • Use a power strip to turn off electronic appliances completely. Eliminating this standby electricity loss from home appliances could save up to 25% on electrical bills.
  • Select energy-efficient entertainment and home office equipment.
  • Keep outside refrigerator coils clean. Dirty coils make your compressor work longer to remove heat.
  • Setting your refrigerator below 37 degrees uses extra energy.
  • Setting your freezer below 0 degrees uses extra energy.
  • Replace aging, inefficient appliances. Even if the appliance has a few useful years left, replacing it with a top-efficiency model is generally a good investment.
  • Use small appliances where possible; a larger cooking appliance will use more energy and may not be required. A toaster, electric skillet, waffle iron, crockpot or popcorn popper uses less energy than a stove.
  • Coffee makers with an automatic shutoff can save you energy.
  • Preheat the oven only when necessary and try not to open the oven while food is cooking.
  • Use the “energy saver” setting on your dishwasher and air dry whenever possible.
  • Operate the dishwasher only when there is a full load.
  • Don’t over-dry your clothes. If 50 minutes works, don’t set it to 70 minutes.
  • Make sure to clean the inside lint filter before each drying cycle.