Energy Savers: Tips to Save Energy Today

Set your thermostat to the highest (or lowest) temperature setting that will still let you be comfortable. In the summer, 78-80 degrees should be the goal when you’re at home and 85 degrees or higher when you’re out. With hot weather, use fans when possible to help you feel more comfortable when you’re in the room. They can make the room feel up to five degrees cooler and use a fraction of the energy that your AC does.

Turn off all lights, fans, TVs, computers and other electronics when not in use. Electronic appliances are silent users of electricity, even when they are not being used. Electricity is still being consumed to power all components, even the pilot light. The easiest way to control your electronics is to purchase and use power strips.

Start to weatherize and seal your home. If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed in the summer so you’re not losing cool air up the chimney. If there are drafts coming in or around your windows and doors, then consider installing weather stripping. Seal cracks and places where plumbing or electrical items enter the house or come through the ceiling.

Lower (or raise) the energy “load” on your home. Close curtains and blinds in sunny areas, especially on west or south facing windows in hot weather, and open them in cold weather. Landscape the outer perimeter of your home so that your air conditioning unit is shaded but has sufficient air circulation, because it reduces radiant heat.

Check the air conditioning filter every month and change if needed. Dirty air filters prevent efficient airflow throughout your HVAC system, and as such, can cause your AC unit to run longer and possibly even shorten the lifespan of various parts. Therefore, regularly replacing your air filters will ensure cleaner air for you and your family to breathe as well as preventing your ducts from clogging and filling up with various dust particles.

Set your water heater to “Medium” or a baseline of 130 degrees. You may be able to set it even lower if your dishwasher has a pre-heater. If you’re used to long showers (more than 5-10 minutes), save by shortening the time spent showering by setting the heater to run out of comfortably warm water by the time you’ve finished.

Wash clothes in cold water and wash full loads whenever possible. 80-90% of energy costs for washing clothes involve heating water for hot or warm cycles. Cold water detergents do just as well in almost all cases.

Use the automatic drying setting on your dryer, rather than timed drying, and dry full loads. By using the timer setting, you run the risk of over-drying your clothes (potentially damaging them). Don’t forget to clean the lint trap after every load; that leads to airflow efficiency which means longer life on your unit.

Turn off the Heated Dry setting on your dishwasher and let the dishes air dry inside. Wash full loads here as well.

Turn on your old, inefficient fridge in the garage only for those few occasions when you need extra room to store stuff. It takes extra energy to run a refrigerator or freezer in a non-air conditioned area. Add to that the age of the appliance – if it is old, then the extra monthly energy costs could be significant.

Keep your refrigerator closed while deciding what to eat. Each time you open the fridge door, the compressor has to run for eight to 10 minutes to keep the cold inside.

If your dryer has a moisture sensor, clean it occasionally to keep the waxy build-up from dryer softening sheets from impeding the sensor’s ability to detect moisture.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a new or additional computer, then consider buying a laptop – they are less power-hungry than desktops. A laptop typically uses less than 20% of the energy an average desktop does with an LCD monitor and as little as 14% of what a desktop with an old-fashioned CRT monitor will use.

When buying new electronics or appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR® label which can be found on many different products such as TVs, computers, cell phones, washers and many more. The ENERGY STAR label is the industry’s leading brand for certifying that electronic appliances are energy efficient.

Install and use dimmer or motion detector switches where possible. They can reduce energy usage for an area by 40-50%. Don’t forget to dust your light bulbs periodically. Dust can cut 20% or more of the light they emit.

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