Free and Low Cost Energy Savings Recommendations
· Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and save 75% of lighting costs.
· Unplug electronics, battery chargers and other equipment when not in use. Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.
· Always buy ENERGY STAR qualified appliances and equipment - they're up to 40% more efficient.
· Turn your water heater down to 120° or the "Normal" setting when home, and to the lowest setting when away. Water heating accounts for about 13% of home energy costs.
· Reduce air conditioning costs by using fans, keeping windows and doors shut and closing shades during the day.
· Turn off unnecessary lighting and use task or desktop lamps with CFLs instead of overhead lights.
· Enable "power management" on all computers and make sure to turn them off at night. A laptop computer uses up to 90% less energy than bigger desktop models.
· When possible, wash clothes in cold water. About 90% of the energy use in a clothes washer goes to water heating.
· Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when fully loaded. Fewer loads reduce energy and water use.
· Make sure your dryer's outside vent is clear and clean the lint filter after every load. When shopping for a new dryer look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off when clothes are dry.
· Test for air leaks by holding a lit incense stick next to windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing or weather stripping.
Good Investment Recommendations
· Install an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat away from natural cool and hot spots. An ENERGY STAR thermostat can save as much as $115 per year, provide more flexibility than standard models
· Seal your home's envelope – walls, floor, ceiling and roof – to save up to 10% on your annual energy bill:
o Add weather stripping around windows and doors to reduce drafts.
o Use caulking to seal around ducts, plumbing and any other openings in walls, floors and ceilings to reduce air leakage. Begin in the attic, a common place for warm air to escape.
o Seal larger gaps that cannot be covered with caulk with expanding foam.
· After air sealing, determine the current level of insulation. In the attic, measure the depth of existing insulation using a ruler. If there is less than R-22 (7 inches of fiber glass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose) you could probably benefit by adding more. Most U.S. homes should have between R-22 and R-49 insulation in the attic. Insulating ceilings, walls, attics, floors, crawl spaces and basements to recommended standards can reduce heating and cooling costs by 5% to 25%.
· Install fireplace inserts or wood stoves into an existing fireplace. The inserts are equipped with glass or metal doors, outside combustion air vents and heat circulation blowers. Fireplace inserts dramatically improve fireplace efficiency by blowing heat from the fire into the room and limiting the amount of heat and conditioned air lost up the chimney. Fireplace inserts are recommended for fireplaces that are regularly used. Before installing a fireplace insert, be sure to check the manufacturer's safety specifications and make sure the fireplace insert is compatible with the existing chimney or vent flue.
· Replace heating equipment more than 15 years old with new ENERGY STAR qualified models. Equipment must be sized and installed properly.
o Old furnaces cost more to operate per year than new, ENERGY STAR qualified models that are 15% more efficient than standard models.
o An ENERGY STAR qualified geothermal heat pump is 30% more efficient than comparable new equipment and can save you as much as $200 annually. A qualified electric heat pump is 20% more efficient and can save you about $130 annually.
o An ENERGY STAR qualified boiler uses features like electric ignition and new combustion technologies that extract more heat from the same amount of fuel, to be 10% more efficient than a new, standard model.
· Install high efficiency windows, which are 40% more efficient than standard windows. Consider replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows that are gas-filled with high performance glass (e.g., low emissivity or "low-e" glass). ENERGY STAR windows may help reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15%. The windows must be sized and installed properly.