Consumer Guide: Energy Saving Tips

Consumer Guide
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According to energy.gov, a typical U.S. family spends at least $,2,200 a year on home utility bills. A lot of that energy is wasted through leaky windows or ducts, old appliances or inefficient heating and cooling systems. Taking steps to create an energy-efficient home will keep your family comfortable and put money back in your pocket.

Easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy

  • Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills and manage your heating and cooling systems efficiently.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
  • Turn things off when you are not in the room such as lights, TVs, entertainment systems, and your computer and monitor.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use — TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F.
  • Take short showers instead of baths and use low-flow showerheads for additional energy savings.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Air dry clothes.
  • Check to see that windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on light bulbs, home appliances, electronics, and other products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
 

Lighting Tips

Energy.gov says replacing 15 inefficient incandescent bulbs in your home with energy-saving bulbs could save you about $50 per year. For the greatest savings, replace your old incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR-qualified bulbs.
  • Visit ENERGY STAR to find the right light bulbs for your fixtures. They are available in sizes and shapes to fit in almost any fixture and provide the greatest savings in fixtures that are on for a long time each day.
  • When remodeling, look for recessed light fixtures or “cans” which are rated for contact with insulation and are air tight (ICAT rated).
  • When replacing incandescent bulbs from recessed light fixtures, use energy-efficient bulbs that are rated for that purpose. For example, the heat buildup in downlights will significantly shorten the life of spiral CFLs.
  • Consider purchasing ENERGY STAR-qualified fixtures. They are available in many styles, distribute light more efficiently and evenly than standard fixtures, and some offer convenient features such as dimming.
  • Controls such as timers and photocells save electricity by turning lights off when not in use. Dimmers save electricity when used to lower light levels. Be sure to select products that are compatible with the energy-efficient bulbs you want to use.
  • Keep your curtains or shades open to use daylighting instead of turning on lights. For more privacy, use light-colored, loose-weave curtains to allow daylight into the room. Also, decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight.
 

Appliances

Appliances account for about 13% of your household’s energy costs, with refrigeration, cooking, and laundry at the top of the list. Learn about:
This chart from energy.gov shows how much energy a typical appliance uses per year and its corresponding cost based on national averages. For example, a refrigerator/freezer uses almost five times the electricity the average television uses.
 

Dishwasher Water-Saving Tips

  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120° F).
  • Scrape, don’t rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or pre-washing is generally only recommended in cases of burned- or dried-on food.
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full (not overloaded) when you run it.
  • Avoid using the “rinse hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3-7 gallons of hot water each use.
  • Let your dishes air dry; if you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.
 

Refrigerator-Freezer Energy Tips

  • Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 35°-38°F for the fresh food compartment and 0° F for separate freezers for long-term storage.
  • Check the refrigerator temperature by placing an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. Check the freezer temperature by placing a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you may consider buying a new unit.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost freezers and refrigerators; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don’t allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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