At Home

Save Energy at Home

When you graduate, rent your first apartment or buy your first home, we want you to take sustainability with you. A few changes can make a big difference for the planet as well as save you some cash.

Save water and energy

  • Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120F). You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands;

    • Insulate hot water pipes especially if they run through unheated areas.

  • Check if your water heater and hot water piping have an insulating blanket and insulation sleeves (an insulating blanket will pay for itself in one year or less!);

  • Invest in low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to save water and energy;

Conserve energy with your major appliances

  • Use energy-saving settings on refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers;

  • Wash clothing using cold water instead of warm or hot. By switching to cold water, the typical family currently washing in warm and rinsing in cold could save up to 620 kWh a year, which translates to a saving up to $52 dollars a year. For those who both wash and rinse in warm, the savings can be more than double this if they make the switch to cold, and for those few who currently use hot water for their wash, these savings are even more significant;

  • Check the age and condition of your major appliances, especially the refrigerator. You may want to replace it with a more energy-efficient model and sometimes their are state or utility company rebates to do this;

  • Clean or replace furnace, air-conditioner and heat-pump filters; and

  • Replace aging, inefficient appliances. Even if the appliance has a few useful years left, replacing it with a top-efficiency model is generally a good investment. But be sure to recycle or donate your older model.

Save energy to light your home

  • Survey your home lighting for opportunities. Look at fixtures above the dining room table, bathrooms and kitchen. Look at your table lamps, outdoor lights, or garage for opportunities to use energy and money saving compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or preferabley LED lights instead of incandescent bulbs. CFLs use only one-fourth of the energy consumed by incandescent light bulbs and they will last up to seven times longer. The best place to start is by targeting the lights you use the most, especially those 60–100 watts. CFL's have small amounts of mercury and shouldn't go in the trash when spent, they can be safely disposed of at places like the Solid Waste District, Lowes and Home Depot.

    • If you can't afford to change all your lighting at once, change the light bulbs in the two rooms you use the most to energy saving CFL bulbs.

Invest in heating and cooling energy conservation

  • Caulk leaky windows, window frames and door frames;

  • Assess your heating and cooling systems. Determine if replacements are justified, or whether you should retrofit them to increase efficiency and provide the same comfort (or better) for less energy;

  • Insulate ducts wherever they run through unheated areas;

  • Crawl into your attic or crawlspace and inspect for insulation (Is there any? How much?);

  • Seal up the largest air leaks in your house (the ones that whistle on windy days, or feel drafty). The worst culprits are usually not windows and doors, but utility cut-throughs for pipes ("plumbing penetrations"), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Better yet, hire an energy auditor with a blower door to point out where the worst cracks are;

  • Install a clock thermostat to set your thermostat back automatically at night and when away during the day;

    • Energy savings thermostat levels are around 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the Summer.

  • Upgrade leaky windows after other investments, replacing windows has a long payback. When it is time to replace them, energy-efficient models need to be installed properly to boost their efficiency with excellent frame sealing.

  • Reduce your air conditioning costs by planting shade trees and shrubs around your house, especially on the west side.