Energy Saving Tips – 35 Ways to Save on Your Utility Bill

5 Things That REALLY Will Put a Serious Dent in Your Energy Bills

Energy Saving Tips - 35 Ways to Save on Your Utility Bill

Your Mexican beach vacation was great, but, man, those margaritas sure can put on the pounds. It’s been two months, and you’re still carrying around an extra tenner — despite a new running routine and a lot of #&*&@$ kale. So why isn’t your weight dropping?

It’s that withenergy bills, too.  Eighty-nine percent of us believe we’re doing the right things to lower energy costs, and almost half of us think our homes already are energy efficient. Yet, 59% of us say our bills are going up, not down, despite our efforts to economize. 

Suzanne Shelton, CEO of the Shelton Group, a marketing agency that specializes in energy efficiency and that did this research, says we’re rationalizing: “I bought these [LEDs] so now I can leave the lights on and not pay more. I ate the salad, so I can have the chocolate cake.” Denial much?

Her research also shows consumers, on average, made fewer than three energy-efficient improvements in 2012 compared with almost five in 2010. It looks we’re giving in to higher utility bills. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You just need to know what improvements really will make the biggest difference to lower your bills. There are five, and the good news is that they’re really (seriously) cheap. You can go straight to them here, but there’s also another thing you can do that doesn’t cost a dime — and will drop your costs:

    Yard & Patio

    Be the home on the block that bugs run from.

    Cleaning & Decluttering

    A bleach solution or rubbing alcohol is your best bet for keeping your home sanitized.

    Buy & Sell

    There are no dumb questions to ask a real estate agent.

Be Mindful About Your Relationship With Energy

Think about it. Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it costs until a month later, says Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation, a research and policy-making nonprofit focused on improving buildings’ energy efficiency. 

With other services you get a choice of whether to buy price. With energy you don’t get that choice — unless you intentionally decide not to buy. You can take control by making yourself aware that you’re spending money on something you don’t need each time you leave home with the AC on high, lights and ceiling fans on, and your computer wide awake.

Related: Did You Know You Should Never Leave a Ceiling Fan on When You Leave a Room? 

That mindfulness is important because your relationship with energy is getting more intense. You (and practically every other person on the planet) are plugging in more and more.

Used to be that heating and cooling were the biggest energy hogs, but now appliances, electronics, water heating, and lighting together have that dubious honor, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, data from U.S.

Energy Information Administration (EIA), the research arm of the Department of Energy (DOE).

Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it costs until a month later.

— Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation

Being mindful means it’s also time to banish four assumptions that are sabotaging your energy-efficiency efforts:

1.Newer homes (less than 30 years old) are already energy efficient because they were built to code. Don’t bank on it. Building codes change pretty regularly, so even newer homes benefit from improvements, says Lee Ann Head, vice president of research and insights with the Shelton Group.

2. Utilities are out to get us: They’ll jack up prices no matter what we do. It might feel cathartic to blame them (Shelton’s research shows consumers blame utilities above oil companies and the government), but to get any rate changes, utilities must make a formal case to public utility commissions.

3.Energy improvements should pay for themselves. Nice wish, but it doesn’t work that way. When the Shelton Group asked consumers what they would expect to recoup if they invested $4,000 in energy-efficient home improvements, they said about 75% to 80%.

Unless you invest in some kind of renewable energy source geothermal and solar, you won’t see that kind of savings. (Sorry.) Even if you do all the right things, the most you should expect is a 20% to 30% reduction annually, says Head, which is still significant over the long term. 

What does 30% translate into? $618 in savings per year or $52 per month, the average household energy spend of $2,060 per year, according to Lawrence Berkeley and EIA.

4. Expensive improvements will have the biggest impact. That’s why homeowners often choose pricey projects replacing windows, which should probably be fifth or sixth on the list of energy-efficient improvements, Shelton says.

There’s nothing wrong with investing in new windows. They feel sturdier; look pretty; can increase the value of your home; feel safer than old, crooked windows; and, yes, offer energy savings you can feel (no more draft).

But new windows are the wrong choice if your only reason for the project was reducing energy costs.

You could replace double-pane windows with new efficient ones for about $9,000 to $12,000 and save $27 to $111 a year on your energy bill, according to EnergyStar. (The savings are higher if you replace single-pane windows.

)  Or you could spend around $1,000 for new insulation, caulking, and sealing, and save 11% on your energy bill, or $227.

The 5 Things That Really Work to Cut Energy Costs

1. Caulk and seal air leaks. Buy a few cans of Great Stuff and knock yourself out over a weekend to seal around:

  • Plumbing lines
  • Electric wires
  • Recessed lighting
  • Windows
  • Crawlspaces
  • Attics

Savings: Up to $227 a year — even more if you add or upgrade your insulation.

Related: Lots of Homes Also Have This HUGE Air Leak 

2. Hire a pro to seal ductwork and give yourHVAC a tune-up. Leaky ducts are a common energy-waster. 

Savings: Up to $412 a year.

3.Program your thermostat. Shelton says 40% of consumers in her survey admit they don’t program their thermostat for energy savings. She thinks it’s even higher.

Savings: Up to $180 a year.

4. Replace all your light bulbs with LEDs. They’re coming down in price, making them even more cost effective. 

Savings: $75 a year or more by replacing your five most frequently used bulbs with Energy Star-rated models.

Related: LED Bulbs Are Confusing, But Here’s a Guide to Help

5. Reduce the temperature on yourwater heater. Set your tank heater to 120 degrees — not the 140 degrees most are set to the box. Also wrap an older water heater and the hot water pipes in insulating material to save on heat loss.

Savings: $12 to $30 a year for each 10-degree reduction in temp.

NOTE: Resist the urge to total these five numbers for annual savings. The estimated savings for each product or activity can’t be summed because of “interactive effects,” says DOE.

If you first replace your central AC with a more efficient one, saving, say, 15% on energy consumption, and then seal ducts, you wouldn’t save as much total energy on duct sealing as you would have if you had first sealed them.

There’s just less energy to save at that point.

Bonus Tip for More Savings

Your utility may have funds available to help pay for energy improvement. Contact them directly, or visit DSIRE, a database of federal, state, local, and utility rebates searchable by state. Energy Star has a discount and rebate finder, too.

Related: Fun DIY Projects to Cut Energy Use


10 Best DIY Hacks for Saving Money on Electricity – NOPEC Blog

Energy Saving Tips - 35 Ways to Save on Your Utility Bill

When you’re looking to save money on your electric bill, you need to tackle the items in your home that are the biggest electricity hogs first. You might think you don’t have the time or money to make such sweeping changes to your electrical usage.

But doing so could potentially save you hundreds of dollars at the end of the year. These 10 hacks will help put extra money in your pockets by saving on unnecessary electrical expenses.

And they’re so easy to do, you won’t even need an electrician or handyman to help you out.

1. Turn down your thermostat at night

Most of us sleep better when the house is a bit cooler than we’d it when we’re awake, but did you know that you can actually save money on your electric bill by turning your thermostat down at night? Because it’s cooler outside at night, it takes a lot less energy to cool the house. Most houses will stay cool all morning, and you won’t have to run the air conditioner again until late afternoon.

2. Change your A/C filter

A home’s electrical furnace system needs regular maintenance to run efficiently.

If you never change your furnace filters, you’re not only putting you and your family at risk with dangerous allergens, you are also potentially ruining your heating and cooling system.

Change filters at least once at the beginning of fall and again in spring for optimal performance. A dirt-clogged filter won’t run as efficiently, making your system work harder and use more energy.

3. Unplug it if you’re not using it

When was the last time you used that DVD player in your spare bedroom? Or the extra TV you have in the basement? Americans waste at least $50 a year on electrical devices that are plugged in and not being used. Even if you aren’t currently using something, it still wastes energy by using standby power. To save money on your electric bill, just remember: If you haven’t used it in at least a month, unplug it!

4. Throw in the towel

That’s right, when you dry your next load of laundry, throw in a dry towel with it. A dry towel will help soak up the excess water that many washing machines leave in your clothes and will markedly reduce your drying times. Even if you have a gas dryer, you can still save money on your electric bill. The less the dryer is running, the more you save.

5. Never use hot water in electric washers

In addition to saving money on your electric bill, there are so many reasons not to wash your clothes with hot water. First, hot water will shrink your clothes and wear them out quicker.

Second, the hot water in your washer doesn’t get hot enough to kill germs. Your dryer will do a much better job of killing germs than hot water in your washer ever could.

Finally, heating your electric washing machine water is one of the biggest possible wastes of electricity and money in your home.

6. Wash full loads of laundry

Always run full loads of laundry, regardless of what type of washer or dryer you have. You could save up to $30 a year just by doing one less load of laundry a week.

7. Turn off the lights

This tip is an obvious one, but so many of us are guilty of not doing it. Whenever you leave a room, always turn off the light. It’s one of the easiest ways to save money on your electric bill.

8. Air-dry your dishes

Turning off the “heat dry” setting on your electric dishwasher can save you big money on your electric bill over the course of the year. All this setting does is steam your dishes dry. Why would you spend money to heat air to do that when letting them dry on their own is free?

9. Keep your cool

Set your refrigerator for 40 degrees. Many people will tell you to set your refrigerator between 35-38 degrees, but there really is no need for that.

Have you ever reached into the back of the fridge and grabbed a frozen-solid stick of butter? Keeping the temperature on your refrigerator set too low will cause it to run less efficiently, costing you money and leaving your refrigerated foods frozen.

10. Get the LED out

Switching your incandescent bulbs to LEDs may sound expensive, but when you think how much less electricity LED bulbs use compared to incandescent bulbs over the course of the lifetime of each, you’ll wonder why you ever had incandescents in the first place.

Many LEDs can last an average of 25,000 hours, whereas incandescent bulbs last about 750 hours. When considering how many incandescent bulbs you’d have to buy over the course of 25,000 hours, the cost of purchasing new incandescent bulbs alone is staggering.

Added to that is the cost of electricity. It takes $240 to light an incandescent bulb for 25,000 hours as opposed to $40 for an LED.

If you multiply all of that by the number of bulbs in your home, you can see how switching over to LED bulbs can potentially save you hundreds on your electric bill over the span of just a decade.

Want more ways to save money on your electric bill? Sign up for NOPEC’s Energy Connection newsletter to receive energy saving tips and chances to win smart home technology.



Energy-Saving Tips

Energy Saving Tips - 35 Ways to Save on Your Utility Bill

    • Change your air filters monthly.
    • Have your heating and air system serviced annually by a licensed professional.
    • Do not let weeds, leaves or other debris obstruct your outdoor unit.
    • Keep all interior doors and air vents open.


    • Set your thermostat to 68 F or lower in the winter. 
    • Use your ceiling fan on low speed, in a clockwise direction, to force the warm air from the ceiling down to the living space. 
    • Open your blinds and curtains during daylight hours to help heat your home.


    • Set your thermostat to 78 F or higher in the summer.
    • Use ceiling fans in occupied rooms to make you feel cooler.
    • Close blinds and curtains during the day to block the sun’s heat.
    • Keep your AC fan on auto, not on. 
    • Check your insulation. Insulation reduces heat flow through your home’s building envelope, hence lowering your heating and cooling costs. Make sure every part of your house is insulated – attic, floors and walls. We recommend an R-30 value for attic insulation, R-19 for floors and R-13 for walls.
    • Seal air leaks. Air leaks are one of the greatest sources of energy loss in homes. To identify leaks check around plumbing and lighting fixtures, light switches, windows and doors. Use weather stripping on windows and doors that don’t close tightly. Use caulk on small holes and expanding foam on larger areas. 
    • Use storm windows or double-paned replacement windows to greatly reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Storm windows are relatively inexpensive, and they also help decrease the outside noise that enters your home.
    • Properly seal ductwork. Gaps in joints and at plenums can cause your heating and cooling bills to increase by as much as 30% and can allow air contaminants to enter the home. Sealing with duct mastic is the best way to fix the problem permanently.
  • Water Heater

    •  Insulate your electric water heater with insulated blanket.
    • Replace old water heaters with an ENERGY STAR model.


    • Recommended temperatures are 35-38 F for the fresh food compartment and 0 F for freezers.
    • Cover food and liquids stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture making the compressor work harder. 
    • Replace old refrigerators with ENERGY STAR models. Top-freezer models are more energy efficient than side-by-side models.
    • Check refrigerators and freezers for significant energy loss. Make sure they are as full as possible and that the seals are in good condition. Don't put refrigerators or freezers in unconditioned garages if possible.


    • Run the dishwasher when it is full, but not overloaded.
    • Load the dishwasher properly and don’t block the dispenser or spray arms.
    • Let dishes air-dry instead of using your dishwasher’s heated dry setting.
    • Use the shortest washing cycle and avoid using the heat-dry option.

    Washing Machine

    • Wash full loads. It takes the same amount of energy to wash a single item or a full load.
    • Using cold water will clean most clothes and save energy.
    • Don’t use too much soap as it may require a second wash to remove excess soap.
    • Replace your old washing machine with an ENERGY STAR certified washer.


    • Clean the lint screen after every load to maximize efficiency.
    • Use a cool-down cycle to allow load to finish drying with the heat remaining in the dryer.
    • Separate heavy and lightweight items. Heavy items need more drying time resulting in increased energy usage. 
    • Promptly remove clothes from the dryer to avoid ironing.

    Cooking Equipment

    • Use small appliances such as microwaves, crockpots or toaster ovens instead of the oven when possible.
    • Keep the oven door closed while cooking as you lose 25 to 50 F each time you open it to check on your food.
    • Use pots and pans that properly fit the heating element. 


44 Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill

Energy Saving Tips - 35 Ways to Save on Your Utility Bill

  • Westend61 / Getty ImagesMany utility companies offer a free home energy audit to customers, and it is well worth taking advantage of. If there is no such program in your area, conduct your own energy audit instead. It will clue you into areas where you could trim your energy use.
  • Diana Haronis / Getty ImagesThe key to saving energy is within reach. Switch to dimmer switches, so you only use as much light as you need.
  • Diana Haronis / Getty ImagesEveryone always tells you to keep the fridge closed. But did you know that keeping your fridge and freezer full can also save money? Food acts as insulation and lessens the amount of time that the fridge has to run to stay cool.
  • James Balston/ArcaidImages / Getty ImagesKeep the air circulating in your home with ceiling fans so your air conditioner does not have to work as hard.Continue to 5 of 44 below.
  • george hill / Getty ImagesSet up a clothesline in your backyard, and let Mother Nature dry your laundry. If this is not an option, consider hanging clothes on a drying rack or shower rod. If you do not line-drying due to the way the clothes feel, learn how to keep line-dried clothes from getting stiff.
  • A shocking 75 percent of the energy used by home electronics is consumed when they are turned off. Phantom loads of electric usage come from televisions, DVD players, stereos, computers, and many kitchen appliances—basically anything that holds a time or other settings. A simple solution is to plug all of these items into power strips and get in the habit of turning off the strips between uses.
  • chuckcollier / Getty ImagesAn attic fan will pull cool air into your home and help to remove the hot air.
  • Stephanie Rausser / Getty ImagesCut down on your air conditioning use by closing curtains and blinds on the sunny side of your home. For even more savings, consider installing tinted window film.Continue to 9 of 44 below.
  • Increase the efficiency of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system by having it inspected and cleaned once a year. An added bonus, you will also have cleaner air circulating in your home.
  • BanksPhotos / Getty ImagesKeep your HVAC system running at peak efficiency by changing the filter every 30 days. Set a reminder on your phone, so you do not forget.
  • Steve Cicero / Getty ImagesLED light bulbs use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Switch out the most widely used bulbs in your home. Then, replace the rest as they burn out.
  • Spaces Images / Getty ImagesPlant trees to shade your home, and your air conditioning will not have to work as hard.Continue to 13 of 44 below.
  • Donald Iain Smith / Getty ImagesMost of the energy consumed by your dishwasher goes to heating water. Turn off the heat dry feature, and you will minimize the energy drain.
  • Thirteen percent of your home's electricity goes to heating water. You can lower this percentage, by setting your hot water heater to 130 to 140 degrees. For even more savings, install an insulation jacket, and insulate the first six feet of piping that comes off of your heater. Learn more ways to save on your water heating bill.
  • Hero Images / Getty ImagesDoes your town offer cheaper electric rates during off-peak hours? If so, this is a great time to wash laundry, heat water, and run the dishwasher. If you are interested in switching electric companies, learn how.
  • Hero Images / Getty ImagesIf your appliances are 10 years old or older, consider replacing them with new, Energy Star models, which use considerably less energy.Continue to 17 of 44 below.
  • Hero Images / Getty ImagesNinety percent of the energy consumed by your washing machine goes to heating water. Turn the dial to cold, and skip the bill.
  • Martin Poole / Getty ImagesYour washing machine and dishwasher use a lot of electricity. Minimize the drain by only washing full loads.
  • Hero Images / Getty ImagesIf you install low-flow showerheads, that means less water flowing equals less water to heat.
  • Peter Dazeley / Getty ImagesSet a programmable thermostat to run less when you are at work and when you are sleeping.Continue to 21 of 44 below.
  • Sofie Delauw / Getty ImagesAn extra blanket on your bed in the winter months is often all it takes to push back the thermostat another couple degrees and cut your heating costs.
  • Lisa J. Goodman / Getty ImagesRemove the dryer lint from your dryer's trap after each load to maximize the machine's efficiency. Then, scrub it down with soapy water and a brush once every couple months to remove any additional lint trapped in the screen.
  • Toss dryer balls into the dryer with your clothes to speed drying time.
  • Mark Hunt / Getty ImagesThe next time you need to replace your hot water heater, consider going with a tankless hot water heater (also known as an on-demand hot water heater). They can cut your hot water energy cost by half.Continue to 25 of 44 below.
  • Hero Images / Getty ImagesPick up a package of electrical outlet sealers and place one behind all of the outlets and switches in your home.
  • Adrian Peacock / Getty ImagesStorm doors are a great way to prevent energy loss. Install one on all of your exterior doors.
  • Russell Sadur / Getty ImagesWhen your refrigerator has dirty condenser coils it has to work harder to cool your foods. Perform maintenance on your refrigerator and freezer once every three months to optimize its efficiency.
  • Aliyev Alexei Sergeevich / Getty ImagesTurn the stove or oven off a few minutes before your food is done and let the built-up heat finish the job for you.Continue to 29 of 44 below.
  • chandlerphoto / Getty ImagesMotion sensors can be installed both inside and outside the home to ensure that lights only come on when they are needed.
  • Eekhoff Picture Lab / Getty ImagesReplace your regular surge protectors with Smart Strip surge protectors, which automatically turn off power to plugs that are not in use. Then, say goodbye to phantom energy use.
  • Image Source / Getty ImagesTraditional hot water heaters heat water throughout the day—whether you need it or not. Install a water heater timer, and set yours to run just when you need it. How much will this save? Expect to see a 5 to 12 percent reduction in your hot water heater's energy costs.
  • Teresa Short / Getty ImagesLED night lights cost less than 25 cents a year to run and are guaranteed to last a lifetime.Continue to 33 of 44 below.
  • PKM1 / Getty ImagesHarness the power of the sun by using solar lights for all of your outdoor needs. They absorb the sun's energy during the day and run for free at night—a real bargain.
  • Do not put uncovered foods or drinks in the refrigerator. Condensation makes the fridge work harder and costs you more money.
  • Hinterhaus Productions / Getty ImagesPlacing hot foods in your fridge will increase the interior temperature and cause your refrigerator to work harder.
  • Andrew Hetherington / Getty ImagesThe extreme temperatures in your garage—hot in the summer and cold in the winter—will cause your refrigerator to work harder; so if you have a choice, place your second refrigerator (or freezer) in the basement, where the temperature is more constant.Continue to 37 of 44 below.
  • Tams Bres / EyeEm / Getty ImagesFoods cook faster with lids on because the heat cannot escape.
  • For casseroles—and other foods that require long cook times—preheating the oven usually is not necessary. The only exceptions are meats and other temperature-critical foods.
  • When you can, substitute the microwave for the oven. Microwaves use less electricity and do not release as much heat into your home.
  • JulNichols / Getty ImagesSediment buildup in your hot water heater can reduce the efficiency of the heating elements. Use the valve on the side of your hot water heater to drain the sediment twice yearly.Continue to 41 of 44 below.
  • BanksPhotos / Getty ImagesPurchase an insulating jacket for your hot water heater to prevent heat loss.
  • Gary Ombler / Getty ImagesThe U.S. Department of Energy has an online tool that can help you determine if you have enough insulation the region where you live.
  • BanksPhotos / Getty ImagesCheck around your windows and doors for any drafty gaps. Then, purchase and install weatherstripping to fill in any spots where drafts get in.
  • Go high tech, and paint your home (inside and out) with insulated paint. You can now purchase a ceramic additive that turns ordinary paint into insulated paint.


10 Tips on Saving Electricity and Lowering Your Electricity Bill

Energy Saving Tips - 35 Ways to Save on Your Utility Bill

Home Smart Homeowner Ways to Save Money

Family Handyman Electricity prices are rising and utility bills are getting ugly. Fight back with these 10 tips, and reduce your electrical bill by up to 40 percent.

Photo courtesy of Tetra Images/Jupiter Images

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

You might also : TBD

CFL bulb

CFL bulbs will provide 10,000 hours of light and use $10.40 of electricity (at 8 cents per kilowatt hour). To get the same output with incandescents, you would have to use seven bulbs, which would cost less up front, but the electricity would cost $48.

Replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) is one of the quickest, easiest ways to save money—and a place everyone can start.

CFLs use about 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. This can save you up to $35 in electric costs over the lifetime of each bulb.

Switching to CFLs in the five most frequently used fixtures in your house will save about $60 per year, according to Energy Star.

Choose CFLs with the Energy Star label to get the greatest savings. Energy Star products have to meet energy-efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and the Department of Energy. When you shop, keep in mind that light fixtures with dimmers require special CFLs; read the label.

When your CFLs are finally spent, recycle them (to find locations, check with your trash hauler or local government).

Photo 1: Motion sensor

Motion sensors are the perfect solution for left-on lights. They turn off automatically so you don’t waste electricity.

Photo 2: Timer

A timer lets you turn on the fan and walk away. You don’t have to remember to come back later and turn it off

Motion sensors (occupancy sensors) automatically turn lights on and off so you only get (and pay for!) light when you need it (Photo 1). Using motion sensors can save you $100 per year. Some motion sensors need to be manually turned on but turn off automatically. They’re great for bedrooms because they won’t turn on when you move in your sleep.

Some switches are installed in junction boxes; others are wireless. You can also buy light fixtures with built-in motion sensors. You’ll need special motion sensors for electronic ballasts that control CFLs. Special-order them at home centers or buy them on the internet.

Use timers to control bath fans so the fan will run for a preset time to air out the room and then automatically turn off (Photo 2). You can set the length of time you want the fan to run. Be sure the timer you buy is rated for motors, not just lighting (check the label).

Energy Star

Look for the Energy Star label when buying appliances. It tells you that the product meets strict standards for energy efficiency.

When you shop for appliances, look for the Energy Star label. It means the appliance meets certain energy-efficiency guidelines. The average household spends $2,000 each year on energy bills.

Energy Star says that appliances bearing its label can cut those bills by 30 percent, for an annual savings of about $600. But you don’t have to replace everything to see a savings.

Just replacing an eight-year-old refrigerator with a new Energy Star model can save $110 a year or more in electricity.

Not sure what to do with your old appliance? Recycle it. Don’t salvage and resell it—that only passes the electricity—hogging appliance along to someone else. Check with your utility company or local home center for programs for appliance pickup and recycling.

Air conditioner maintenance

The best way to keep your air conditioner running at peak efficiency is to spend a couple of hours each year on basic maintenance—cleaning and straightening the fins, changing the filter and lubricating the motor.

Roughly half of an average home’s annual energy bill (gas and electric), about $1,000, is spent on heating and cooling.

Air conditioners placed in direct sunlight use up to 10 percent more electricity. If yours sits in the sun, plant tall shrubs or shade trees nearby—but don’t enclose the unit or impede the airflow.

Place window units on the north side of the house or install an awning over them.

Keep your window or central air conditioner tuned up so it runs at peak efficiency. Every two or three years, call in a pro to check the electrical parts and the refrigerant.

If your central air conditioner is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an Energy Star model can cut your cooling costs by 30 percent and save maintenance costs.

The payback for replacing a 12-year-old system is typically about eight years. An air conditioner’s efficiency level is measured by the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER).

The higher the number, the more efficient the unit. A 13 or 14 SEER rating is considered high efficiency.

Turn off electronics

Electronics guzzle lots of power even when they’re turned off. Stop wasting electricity: Plug them into a power strip, then turn off the strip.

Seventy-five percent of the electrical use by home electronics occurs when they’re turned off, according to the Department of Energy. These “energy vampires” suck electricity all day long—costing you an extra $100 each year. So if you’d to keep that Ben Franklin in your wallet, unplug your electronics or plug them into a power strip, then turn off the strip.

Don’t worry about losing the settings on new computers and TVs. They have a memory chip that resets everything when you power back up. If you have an old VCR or other devices that flash when the power goes out, keep it plugged in.

Some power strips have a few outlets that always have power even when you flip off the switch. This type of strip has a main outlet for the computer.

When you turn off the computer, the strip also shuts down other devices, such as your scanner, printer or modem.

Clean out lint

Keep your dryer safe and efficient by cleaning lint the ductwork once a year.

A clogged lint screen or dryer duct drastically reduces the efficiency of your dryer, whether it’s gas or electric. Clean the lint screen after each load and clean the exhaust duct once a year. The cleaner shown here has an auger brush that attaches to a drill to clean out the ducts. It’s available at home centers.

Electric dryers use about $85 of electricity annually. A dirty lint screen can cause the dryer to use up to 30 percent more electricity ($25 per year), according to the Consumer Energy Center. Lint buildup is also a common cause of fires.

Dry loads of laundry back-to-back so the dryer doesn’t cool down between loads (a warm dryer uses less energy). And only run the dryer until the clothes are dry. Overdrying damages your clothes and runs up your electric bill. If you’re in the market for a new dryer and already have a gas line in the house, go with a gas dryer. A gas dryer is more efficient.

New filter

Label filters with the month they’ll be used, to help you remember to change them.

Keeping your furnace (gas or electric) tuned up has two big benefits: It makes the furnace run efficiently and it prolongs the furnace’s life span. And you can perform the annual tune-up yourself in about three hours.

Change the filter every month of the heating season (or year-round if the filter is also used for A/C). Be sure you insert the new one so it faces the right way. The filter protects the blower and its motor; a clogged filter makes the motor work harder and use more power.

Photo 1: Water heater timer

A timer turns on the water heater only when you need it, so you don’t waste electricity heating and reheating water that sits in the tank.

Photo 2: Drain sediment

Sediment lowers the efficiency of your water heater. Turn off the power, hook up a hose to the drain valve and drain the tank every 6 to 12 months.

If you only use an electric water heater at certain times of the day, you’re wasting electricity keeping the water hot 24/7.

To solve that problem, install an electronic timer switch (Photo 1; sold at home centers). Timers are available for 120- and 240-volt heaters.

They can be programmed for daily or weekly schedules so you only heat the water when you need it. A timer can save you $25 per year.

To make your water heater even more efficient, drain the tank and flush out the sediment at the bottom (Photo 2). Otherwise, you could be heating through inches of sediment before heating the water.

If your electric water heater is warm or hot to the touch, it’s losing heat. Wrap it with an insulating blanket (sold at home centers).

Time-of-use meter

Time-of-use meters replace the existing meter and attach to the meter box. They enable you to pay less for electricity used at certain times of the day.

Smart metering programs vary among utility companies, but the basic idea is the same: The utility installs a special “smart” meter that tracks how much electricity you’re using.

The utility uses that data to make sure its power grid doesn’t get overloaded and cause blackouts. If the grid nears capacity, the utility can shut off major appliances in homes for short periods of time (such as 15 minutes per hour).

Not all companies offer smart metering, but some do and many others are considering it.

What’s in it for you? Money! Some programs pay for signing up. Others let you view your home’s usage online in real time so you can better manage your electrical consumption.

Others let you choose “real-time” or “time-of-use” pricing that allows you to pay less for electricity that’s used during off-peak hours (for example, on weekdays from early afternoon until 8 p.m.). These plans reward you for using electricity when it’s cheapest.

Smart metering makes the most sense if you’re away from home all day—you won’t notice or care if things get turned off (although it’s a good idea for everyone else too!).

According to SRP, a power utility company, the plans cut 7 percent off your bill, which is $140 for the average $2,000 yearly energy bill. Check with your local company to find out what smart metering programs are available in your area.

Clean coils

Brush and vacuum the coils at the bottom or the back of the refrigerator. A coil cleaning brush (available at appliance parts stores or home centers) is bendable to fit in tight areas.

Your refrigerator uses more electricity than all your other kitchen appliances combined. To keep its energy costs down, clean the coils twice a year, which improves efficiency by 30 to 50 percent.

Your fridge and freezer run more efficiently when they’re full. Put water containers in the fridge and ice bags in your freezer to keep them filled. Keep the refrigerator setting between 35 and 38 degrees and the freezer between 0 and 5 degrees F.

Refrigerator door seals wear out over time. Test your seal by closing a dollar bill in the door. If it pulls out easily, replace the seal.

If your fridge was made before 2001, it’s using at least 40 percent more electricity than new Energy Star models. If you’re replacing your fridge, buy an Energy Star model and recycle your old one.

Don’t hook up the old one in the basement or garage—an inefficient refrigerator costs as much as $280 a year in electricity.

Any money you save buying food in bulk and storing it in an inefficient second fridge is lost in electric costs.


9 Ways to Save Energy This Summer | Trane Topics

Energy Saving Tips - 35 Ways to Save on Your Utility Bill

The heat is on! It’s time to make a game plan for saving energy this summer and avoiding skyrocketing electricity bills. Here are a variety of ways you can offset the season’s rising temperatures.

1. Fan Yourself

Buying stand, box or ceiling fans is a small investment that can reduce your energy costs. Using fans to help cool your home means you can raise the thermostat setting by 4 degrees without reducing your comfort level. Just remember to turn off the fans when you’re not in the room. They aren’t intended to cool the space — just the people in the space, via the wind chill effect.

Photo by Octav Cado

2. Optimize Your Thermostat Setting

According to the Department of Energy,  setting your thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer can save you up to 10% in energy costs each year. If 78 degrees is too warm for you, you can adjust it a bit lower to be comfortable. Just remember that for every degree you raise your thermostat above 72 degrees, you save up to 3% of your cooling expenses.

Consider getting a programmable thermostat, so you can program a warmer setting when you’re not home and automatically start cooling your home right before you get back.

If you’re into technology, try a wireless remote thermostat, the ComfortLink™ II, that can be paired with the Nexia™ system and your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer to control your air conditioner from wherever you are.

3. Upgrade Your Air Conditioner and Appliances

If you’re ready to take your summer energy savings to the next level, go for a system upgrade. Heating and cooling uses nearly half of the energy in your home, so investing in an energy efficient system is a smart move that will save you money in the long run.

When you’re upgrading your air conditioner, look for Energy Star certified systems that have a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) ratings.

They’ll be 15% more efficient than other models. While you’re going green, think about upgrading your entire home with Energy Star appliances.

At the very least, schedule seasonal maintenance for your air conditioner and other systems, so they’re working their best.

4. Go Low Flow

In the summer, water usage usually increases — whether it’s watering your lawn or taking more post-swim showers.

Keep outdoor watering costs down by only watering grass and plants in the early morning or at dusk, so the water doesn’t evaporate in the summer heat.

Another secret to having an energy efficient home is installing low-flow water fixtures. These work well on shower heads, toilets and even your outdoor sprinkler.

5. Wash with Cold Water

Here’s a quick summertime money saver. Change up your laundry routine by only washing and rinsing your clothes with cold water. If you do it year round, it could save you around $200 annually.

6. Close the Blinds & Check Your Seals

Kicking up the AC isn’t the only way to keep your home cooler in the hot summer months. Take a quick walk around the house and close all the blinds and curtains. This will keep your rooms from heating up too much and being super hard to cool with your air conditioner or fan. Another tip to keep warm air outside is to add weather stripping to your doors and windows.

7. Keep Your Fridge Cool

Your refrigerator and freezer are essential to keeping your lemonade and popsicles cold all summer long. So, here are few tips to save on your energy bill by maintaining your refrigerator properly.

Set the thermostat between 35 and 38 degrees for the refrigerator and between 0 and 5 degrees for the freezer. Check the door seal and vacuum the coils.

Make sure your fridge is always full of food (or even just jugs of water), so there’s less air space for it to have to cool.

8. Relax and Unplug

Keep your electronics from sucking up all your summer energy by unplugging your chargers, TV, computer and other small electronics when you’re not using them. It’s an easy way to save up to $100 a year, according to the Department of Energy.

9. Dine Out

Whether you’re grilling a great meal or treating yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, steering clear of your kitchen in the summer can reduce your energy bill. Using kitchen appliances can raise the temperature by 10 degrees. Not only will you reduce the energy you use to run those appliances, but you’ll also save on air conditioning costs to cool down your home.

Now that you’ve got a variety of energy-saving ideas that range from new habits to efficient upgrades, challenge yourself to see if you can lower your energy costs this summer. Then use those savings for a weekend vacation in the fall!