HOME ENERGY SAVING TIPS
U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
HEATING and COOLING
Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in your home. Typically, 45% of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling. What’s more, heating and cooling systems in the United States together emit 150 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, adding to global climate change. They also generate about 12% of the nation’s sulfur dioxide and 4% of the nitrogen oxides, the chief ingredients in acid rain.
No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system you have in your hours, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, air sealing, and thermostat setting, you can cut your energy use for heating and cooling, and reduce environmental emissions, from 20% to 50%.
Heating and Cooling Tips
- Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.
- Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.
- Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
- Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.
- Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
- Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
- During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.
- $ Long-Term Saving Tip: Select energy-efficient products when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs tip help you compare energy usage. For furnaces, look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The national minimum is 78% AFUE, but there are ENERGY STAR models on the market that exceed 90% AFUE.
- $ Long-Term Saving Tip: For air conditioners, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The current minimum is 13 SEER for central air conditioners. ENERGY STAR models are 13 SEER or more. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy provides tips for buying energy-efficient furnaces, boilers, AC units, and heat pumps on its Web site.
Water heating is the third largest energy expense in you r home. It typically accounts for about 13% of your utility bill. There are four ways to cut your water heating bills: use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on your water heater, insulate your water heater, or buy a new, more efficient water heater.
Water Heating Tips
- Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.
- Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.
- Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit provides comfortable hot water for most uses.
- Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household.
- Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Insulate your natural gas or oil hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations; when in doubt, get professional help.
- Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.
- If you are in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR model to reduce hot water use. See Appliances for more information.
- Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Some new water heaters have built-in heat traps.
- Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The types of water tank you have determine the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer’s advice.
Use Energy Wisely
Use Energy Wisely at Home
Here are a few steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient, thereby reducing your heating and cooling bills, and conserving resources at the same time.
Doors and Windows:
- Check for leaks and drafts and add weather stripping as needed.
- Install curtains on your windows.
Furnaces and Water Heaters:
- Replaces inefficient furnaces and water heaters with new high-efficiency models.
- If buying a new furnace, do not get one larger than you need.
- Wrap the hot water boiler in an insulating jacket.
- Clean filters on forced-air furnaces.
- Insulate older un-insulated homes.
- If your home already has some insulation, consider increasing the amount of insulation in the attic, and insulation to floors over a basement or crawlspace.
- Install low-flow showerheads.
- Install a thermostat that will automatically lower nighttime temperatures.
- Use ceiling fans to circulate air in the house, keeping the air mixed. Seal flues in unused fireplaces,
- Conduct an “energy audit” of your home to evaluate your heating system’s efficiency and determine where heat loss may be occurring. Many fuel dealers and utility providers offer these audits as a free service. You can also perform your own home energy audit on the Internet by going to the Department of Energy’s Web sites at http://www.homeenergysaver.lbl.gov and following the instructions found there.