Today is Energy Efficiency Day, and we wanted to share some basic tips to help you save energy and money, and improve the comfort of your residence. By finding ways to use less energy, through both conservation and efficiency measures, you can reduce your individual carbon footprint and lower your utility bills.
- Tune up your HVAC equipment. It is crucial for the efficiency of your HVAC system that it receives regular, proper maintenance. This includes tightening electrical connections, checking system controls, lubricating moving parts, and more.
- Check your air filters. It is recommended that filters are checked on a monthly basis, and typically should be changed about every 3 months (or more often in the summer and winter when your HVAC system is used the most).
- Boilers tune-up. If you use boilers for heating your residence, have your boilers tuned-up annually, which includes regular maintenance and cleaning. This will improve the comfort of your homes, increase the life of the equipment, ensure safety, and save you money.
- Check for leaks. Check your walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floor for air leaks that could be causing warm air to escape in the winter or cold air to leak out in the summer. Adding insulation, spray foam, or weather stripping can help to tighten your home and make heating and cooling more efficient.
- By taking some time to consider temperature settings in our house, we are able to better manage how we heat and cool our home – typically the largest cost and source of energy use. The Department of Energy's rule of thumb for thermostat settings is 68° in the winter and 78° in the summer.
- Avoid the AC if you can. Opt instead to open windows with mesh screens in the summer, and use fans.
- Install a programmable thermostat. These allow you to automatically raise and lower the temperature around your daily schedule. Many newer ones can also be monitored and adjusted remotely.
- Reduce the heat at night during winters. Not only will this save you money and energy, many of us sleep better in a cooler house.
- Turn off the lights. Perhaps the easiest way to manage your energy use is to be sure that you aren’t lighting spaces that you don’t need. Turn off lights when you aren’t using them, and opt for natural lighting as much as possible.
- Switch to LED light bulbs. LED bulbs can use about 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Ongoing technology improvements continue to lower the cost and give more options of color temperature for these more efficient bulbs.
- Use task lighting. Try to opt for smaller, focused task lighting – such as a desk or reading lamp – as opposed to larger, overhead lights.
APPLIANCES AND ELECTRONICS
- Look for the ENERGY STAR label. These appliances are certified by the EPA to be energy efficient, and will be clearly labeled with information about improved energy performance and savings. ENERGY STAR certifications can be found on nearly all types of household and commercial appliances and electronics. Click here for a full list of ENERGY STAR products.
- Keep an eye out for rebate programs – some utility companies and government agencies offer rebates for ENERGY STAR appliances. Click here to find available rebates.
- Is your refrigerator running efficiently? Since they are constantly in use, refrigerators are one of the biggest drivers of energy use in our homes. If yours is more than 15 years old and you have the means to do so, think about replacing it with a more efficient upgrade. Top-mounted freezers can also use 10-25% less energy than bottom or side-by-side units. Some regular maintenance can also help: check the rubber seal on the door, as these can wear out over time and cause cold air to leak, and periodically clean the coils underneath or behind the fridge to be sure they can continue to efficiently remove heat.
- Use a power strip. Devices will continue to use electricity as long as they are plugged in. By having all electronics plugged into one power strip, it makes it easy to turn them all off when not in use. Also, consider smart power strips.
- Avoid the clothes dryer. If you have the space, use an indoor or outdoor clothesline or a drying rack to dry all or a portion of your clean clothes to minimize using energy with the dryer.
By tracking and understanding monthly energy use through your utility bills, you'll notice how energy conservation measures can lower your use and cost. Conversely, it can also help to identify leaks or inefficiencies that can be addressed through maintenance or equipment replacement.
We recommend going to your natural gas and/or electricity vendor website and accessing their online portal for your utility account. This tool will allow you to track historical energy use and cost, and will give you access to additional energy saving tips and maintenance reminders. These online portals are offered by CPP, First Energy, Dominion Energy, and Columbia Gas.
In addition, here are two more residential energy saving tip resources: