Energy Saving Ideas for Your Home

The average home pollutes more than the average car. There are simple ways that you can save energy and help protect the environment (while saving money on your energy bills at the same time). Here are a few ideas:

Change a light. ENERGY STAR qualified light fixtures and bulbs use 2/3 less energy than traditional lighting and last up to 10 times longer. By replacing just 5 of your home's most frequently used fixtures or the light bulbs in them with energy-efficient lighting, you can save more than $60 each year in energy costs.

Tighten up your home. Hidden gaps and cracks in a home can add up to as much airflow as an open window and cause your heating and cooling system to work harder and use more energy. ENERGY STAR Home Sealing can improve your home "envelope" - the outer walls, ceiling, windows and floors -- which will make your home more comfortable and can save up to 10 percent in energy costs. Start by sealing air leaks first and then adding insulation. Pay special attention to your attic and basement, where the biggest gaps and cracks are usually found. If replacing windows, choose ENERGY STAR qualified ones.

Adjust your thermostat and turn up the savings. When used properly, a programmable thermostat with 4-temperature settings can save you $100 each year on energy costs. You can set an ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostats to automatically adjust your home's temperature when you're at home, asleep, or away for the day or an entire weekend.

Remember your ceiling fan: Use your ceiling fan to not only keep you comfortable but also to allow you to adjust your thermostat for more energy savings, especially in the summer months. When buying a new ceiling fan, consider purchasing an energy-efficient model. An ENERGY STAR qualified ceiling fan comes with optimized fan blades and motor and those with lighting use up to 50% less energy than standard models. Always turn off your ceiling fan when you leave the room, just as you do your lights. Remember that a ceiling fan only cools you, not a room, by using a "wind-chill effect." In the winter, reverse the spin of the fan (most fans have a small switch) and set it on the slowest speed to help send warm air down to the living area.

Keep your air filters clean. Regularly clean or replace air filters in your home's heating and cooling system. This simple change - done monthly or every 3 months (depending on filter type)-- will help lower energy bills and maintain better indoor air quality. Have your heating system checked in the fall and your cooling equipment checked in the spring by a licensed and insured contractor to keep your system performing efficiently and safely.

Consider an A/C upgrade. If your air conditioning system is more then 10 years old, consider an upgrade. Air conditioning accounts for nearly half of your summer energy bills. Ask for ENERGY STAR qualified models to get the highest efficiency. Make sure your contractor properly sizes and installs your new air conditioner. Improper sizing and installation can significantly reduce the performance of your new equipment. Your licensed contractor should use a calculation tool such as Manual J or other similar tool to assess the proper size.

Tighten Your Ducts: If you have a forced air furnace, heat pump, or central air conditioner, then a duct system is responsible for circulating "conditioned" air throughout your home. Leaky ducts can reduce your system's overall efficiency by as much as 20 percent and deliver more comfort where you want it. Sealing your ducts can save up to $140 annually on energy bills, help you consistently heat or cool every room and also improve indoor air quality. It is especially important to seal and insulate ducts that are in the attic or crawlspace.

Keep out of hot water. Set your hot water temperature at the "normal" setting -- no higher than 120 degrees F. This can cut your water heating costs by 11%. Second, if your water heater is pretty old, make a quick trip to the hardware store or home improvement center for a hot water insulation kit to wrap your water heater and save even more on water heating costs. (New water heaters are better insulated, so may not require an insulation kit). Third, place pipe insulation on the hot water pipe that carries the heated water from the water heater - especially in cold basements or closets.

Load it up. Wait until you have a full load to run your clothes washer, dryer or dishwasher in order to use less energy. Use the energy saver feature on your dishwasher. If you're trying to do your part to prevent brownouts/ blackouts or reduce energy demand in your area, it's best to run these appliances during off-peak hours, in the morning or evening.

Out with the old... Refrigerators use more energy than any other appliance in your home. If your refrigerator is 10 years old or older, it may be time for a replacement. A new ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator uses less than half the energy of a 10-year-old conventional model.

Look for the ENERGY STAR on new appliances. Always ask for ENERGY STAR on refrigerators, clothes washers, room air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and other appliances when replacing or remodeling. Check with your local utility or use our Special Offers Finder to see if any product incentives or rebates are available in your local area.

Let the Sunshine In/Keep the Sunshine Out. In the winter, open your window shades and drapes to let the natural warmth of the sun in during the day. At night, close them again to help insulate your windows against heat loss. In the summer, close shades and drapes and consider adding awnings or heat-blocking window film to keep out the sun and reduce the work your air conditioner has to do.

Buy Green Power - Stop Pollution at the Source. If you're interested in reducing pollution from the energy you use in your home, you can buy green power -- electricity generated from renewable resources such as wind or solar. Right now, about 40% of Americans can buy green power from a local supplier and have it provided through their existing power lines. To find out about green power options in your area, visit EPA's Green Power Locator.

Put Your Home to the Test. Doing a home improvement project? ENERGY STAR has online tools to evaluate your home's energy performance and offer solutions to increase comfort and energy efficiency. Have your utility bills handy for savings calculations.