Winter Time Energy-Saving Tips

Fast & Free

Cutting back unnecessary energy use is an easy way to keep your hard earned money in your pocket. Here are some suggestions you can do at home, at absolutely no cost to you.

Turn down your thermostat. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you’ll save up to 5% on heating costs. Wear warm clothing and set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the day and evening, health permitting. Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees or off at night or when leaving home for an extended time saving 5-20 percent of your heating costs (heat pumps should only be set back five degrees to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heating).

Eliminate wasted energy. Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Unplug that spare refrigerator in the garage if you don’t truly need it – this seemingly convenient way to keep extra drinks cold adds 10-25% to your electric bill. Turn off kitchen and bath-ventilating fans after they’ve done their job – these fans can blow out a house-full of heated air if inadvertently left on. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning to prevent up to 8% of your furnace-heated air from going up the chimney.

Lights

  • Turn off lights when you leave a room or when they are not needed. Much of the energy used is given off as heat.
  • Install energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. They give off less heat and use as much as 75 percent less energy than regular bulbs.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are available in a variety of creative shapes, color temperatures and brightnesses. Some are dimmable and can respond to motion sensors. A typical CFL outlasts 8 equivalent incandescent bulbs.
  • Keep bulbs and lighting fixtures clean for maximum lighting.
  • Pull the plug on instant-on appliances (such as televisions) when you don’t plan to use them for a few days or more. They draw current even when switched off.
  • Use task lighting directed at a specific area instead of overhead or general lighting.

Reduce hot water temperature. Set your water heater to the “normal” setting or 120º, unless the owner’s manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Savings are 7-11% of water heating costs.

Shorten showers. Simply reducing that lingering time by a few minutes can save hundreds of gallons of hot water per month for a family of four. Showers account for 2/3 of your water heating costs. Cutting your showers in half will reduce your water heating costs by 33 percent.

Use appliances efficiently. Do only full loads when using your dishwasher and clothes washer. Use the cold water setting on your clothes washer when you can. Using cold water reduces your washer’s energy use by 75%. Be sure to clean your clothes dryer’s lint trap after each use. Use the moisture-sensing automatic drying setting on your dryer if you have one.

Put your computer and monitor to sleep. Most computers come with the power management features turned off. On computers using Windows 98/ME/2000 open your power management software and set it so your computer goes to sleep if you’re away from your machine for 5 to 15 minutes. Those who use Macintosh computers look for the setting in your Control Panels called “Energy Saver” and set it accordingly. When you’re done using your computer, turn it off (see next tip) do not leave it in sleep mode overnight as it is still drawing a small amount of power.

Plug “leaking energy” in electronics. Many new TVs, VCRs, chargers, computer peripherals and other electronics use electricity even when they are switched “off.” Although these “standby losses” are only a few watts each, they add up to over 50 watts in a typical home that is consumed all the time. If possible, unplug electronic devices and chargers that have a block-shaped transformer on the plug when they are not in use. For computer scanners, printers and other devices that are plugged into a power strip, simply switch off the power strip after shutting down your computer.

Additional Energy Saving Links

U.S. Dept. of Energy – Energy Savers – Tips on Saving Energy & Money

Hot Tips – These Hot Tips Can Keep You Warm

Tips from Trane – Your guide to Cooling