Saving energy makes good sense. It lowers your utility bills, helping you keep more dollars and cents in your pocket, and it's good for the environment, too.
This section of our site is dedicated to helping you save electricity and money. In addition to the tips below, be sure to check out the other pages listed under the "Save Energy" menu, above.
To learn more about how much electricity is used by common home appliances and how much cost that translates into for you, check out our Energy Costs Brochure.
Home heating tips
Did you know that as much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling? Making smart decisions about your home's heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big effect on your utility bills as well as your comfort.
- Check your HVAC system's air filter every month, especially during summer and winter. Change the filter every 3 months, or sooner if it looks dirty. A dirty filter slows air flow and makes the system work harder to keep you warm or cool, wasting energy. A clean filter prevents dust and dirt from accumulating in the system, preventing expensive early system failure.
- Have a professional HVAC technician check and tune-up your HVAC equipment yearly for improved comfort and efficiency.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Set it so the heat will not run as often when you are regularly away from home, and to warm up around the time you return. Save up to $180 each year.
- Seal your heating and cooling ducts to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system by as much as 20 percent, perhaps more. Seal ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unfinished basement, or garage with duct sealant metal-backed tape, covering all seams and connections, then wrap the ducts in insulation.
- Consider replacing your furnace with a dual-fuel heat pump system.
Home cooling tips
The following suggestions can help you trim the costs of cooling your home.
- If you are considering purchasing a new room air conditioner, look for an Energy Star rated unit, which will use at least 10 percent less electricity than a standard one.
- Cover the outside portion of room air conditioners with a tight-fitting A/C unit cover before winter, to keep heated air inside your home from leaking out.
- A window A/C unit should fit snugly in the window to keep outdoor air from getting in, and should be on a separate electric circuit.
- If your windows are old or drafty, replace them with new Energy Star rated windows to save electricity and improve your comfort.
The average household can spend $400-$600 per year heating water; that makes heating water second only to heating and cooling your home in terms of the energy and expense required. Trim your electric bill and keep your water nice and warm with the tips below.
- Newer water heaters (especially Energy Star rated ones) offer significant improvements in efficiency and performance, allowing you to cut your water heating costs by as much as half. Consider replacing your water heater if it is more than 10 to 15 years old.
- Adjust your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees F or lower. A water heater set too high at 140 degrees F can waste more than $400 annually.
- Wrap your water heater with an insulating jacket; you could save more than $30 per year in excess heat loss.
- Wrap insulating tape around the hot water pipe which leaves your water heater; you'll save energy and your hot water won't cool off as quickly between the heater and the faucet.
- Turn off or turn down the temperature on your water heater when you will be away for an extended time. See more water heating tips
After heating and cooling the home and heating water, use of major appliances is the next largest portion of the energy used in most homes. Reduce the energy used by your appliances and save money by implementing the following practices.
- Wash your laundry with cold water instead of warm or hot; cold water detergents are available to help get your clothes just as clean. You can save as much as $40 per year by washing in cold water. Wash full loads, or reduce the level of water accordingly for smaller loads, to save hundreds of gallons of water per year. See more clothes washing tips.
- If your dryer has a moisture sensor that will automatically turn the machine off when clothes are dry, use it to avoid over drying and wasting electricity. Be sure to clean the lint filter before every load to keep your dryer running efficiently. See more clothes drying tips.
- Rinsing dishes before putting them in a dishwasher can use up to 20 gallons of extra water. Instead of rinsing, just scrape excess food off of dishes. If dirty dishes sit overnight, use the dishwasher's rinse feature, which uses a fraction of the water needed to hand rinse. Wash full loads instead of partial ones when possible. Turn off the heat-dry option and save energy.
- Use a microwave or toaster oven to reheat leftovers or cook small meals. You'll use less electricity than using your stove or oven.
- When cooking on the stove, use a pot which matches the size of the burner. A small pan on a large burner wastes much of the burner's heat. Cover help to keep heat in and keeps your kitchen cooler in summer.
- Clean the burners on a gas range regularly to improve efficiency. If flames are yellow instead of blue, it's past time to clean the burners.
- Set your refrigerator at 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit, and allow room behind the refrigerator for air to circulate. Keep the condenser coils clean (see the owner's manual). Check that the seals around the door close tightly, and if not, replace them. And of course, don't keep the door open any longer than necessary. See more refrigeration tips.
One of the easiest ways to save energy and money is to upgrade your home's lighting... if you can change a light bulb, you can start saving energy right away.
- Fact: If every American home replaced the bulbs in its 5 most frequently used light fixtures with ones that are Energy Star rated, the savings would approach $9 billion each year in energy costs, and greenhouse gases emissions would be reduced by the equivalent of nearly 10 million cars (note: this is based on the replacement of 9 bulbs in 5 high-use fixtures per home).
- Want to learn how much you could save for each light bulb that you replace with an energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent bulb? See the CFL Payback Analysis tool.
- To maximize your savings on lighting your home or business, be sure to check out additional lighting tips.