Simple steps to start saving
You could save energy and lower your energy bills. Learn how to start saving with a few simple changes at home.
In the kitchen
- Use the dishwasher! Dishwashers use about 15 gallons of hot water, but washing by hand could use as much as 20 gallons. Be sure to only use it when it's full.
- Opt for the “short-wash” cycle on your dishwasher if your dishes aren‘t covered in last night’s lasagna. It saves water—and the energy used to heat it.
- Turn the dishwasher off at the drying cycle and open the door to air-dry the dishes. It saves electricity.
- Use only cold water when using your garbage disposal. The disposal doesn’t work as efficiently with hot water. Plus the energy used to heat the water is wasted.
- Wipe down your range regularly to keep it working more efficiently.
- Place the pot or pan on the burner of your gas range, then turn on the flame and adjust so it fits the pan. When cooking is complete, turn the burner off immediately to avoid wasting heat.
- Turn off an electric range a few minutes before the food is finished cooking. The burner is slow to cool, allowing cooking to continue.
- Use a slow cooker to save time, energy and money. Easy dinner. Easy savings.
- Allow foods to thaw before cooking to avoid burning energy defrosting them.
- Avoid opening the oven door when food is cooking. Every time you sneak a peek, you’re letting out heat. Use the door’s window, instead.
- Plan oven meals and grill meals so you cook more than one dish at a time.
- Avoid lining the oven with aluminum foil. It reduces the oven’s efficiency by interfering with air circulation.
- In the summer, use your above range exhaust fan. Not only are you blowing out cooking smells, you’re also ridding your home of hot air, preventing your air conditioner from working overtime. In winter, only use the exhaust fan when necessary.
- Use the self-cleaning feature on your range after using the oven, while it’s still warm.
- Fire up the grill when outside temperatures allow. Cooking on an outdoor gas grill usually uses less energy than cooking inside. Plus, your kitchen stays cooler, so less air conditioning is needed.
- Look for a refrigerator with a drawer-style freezer. These allow less cold air to escape when opened than upright freezers.
- Keep the freezer full. Less cold air is lost because the frozen food helps retain the cold. Some people even freeze containers of water to take up space!
- Cover liquids stored in frost-free refrigerators and freezers. Uncovered liquids draw more moisture into the air, making the unit work harder.
- Defrost freezers that are not frost-free often. Ice acts as insulation and decreases cooling power.
- Let hot dishes cool before they’re put in the refrigerator.
- Use the power saver switch, if available, on your refrigerator. Adjust refrigerator and freezer controls to avoid unnecessarily cold settings, which waste energy.
- Locate refrigerators and freezers away from warm air, like the heat that comes from a range, heating vent, or direct sunlight.
- Keep it clean. Keep it efficient. If your refrigerator or freezer has a forced-air condenser that blows air out at the bottom, make sure it doesn’t accumulate dust and hair. You should also make sure the condenser tubing on the back of the refrigerator and freezer isn’t touching the wall.
In the living areas
- Get big savings by running your heating and cooling system less often. In the winter, keep the thermostat set at 65° F, or two to four degrees below what you’re used to. Wear heavier clothing to keep warm. Homes with older adults, small children or under physician's care should use caution when setting their thermostat.
- Keep your house at the minimum comfort level in the summer. Each degree cooler than 78° F uses substantially more energy. At night, raise the air conditioner’s thermostat setting.
- Install a programmable thermostat to save energy while you’re away from home, and bring the home temperature to a comfortable level by the time you return. Programming options vary depending on your thermostat, so be sure to read and save the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Clean your thermostat yearly by removing the cover and carefully blowing away dust.
- Install thermostats on an inside wall. This way, drafts won’t mess up their temperature settings.
Heating and cooling
- Make sure your home is well-insulated. Install or add insulation to your attic. See ENERGY STAR's Guide to Sealing and Insulating for help getting started.
- Caulk the cracks! Stop drafts by weather-stripping or caulking all cracks around doors and windows. Any place pipes enter your home from the outside can have small cracks.
- Have your heating system checked before each winter and replace filters.
- Change filters often throughout the year. Dirty filters block the flow of air.
- Use storm windows and doors or sheets of clear plastic to keep in the heated air in winter and the cooled air in summer.
- Wrap uninsulated ducts and pipes with low-cost fireproof insulation.
- Keep return heating air ducts clean. Dust and lint can keep a room from getting enough heat and make the heater work harder.
- Avoid blocking registers or radiators with draperies, curtains, furniture or anything else. Let the air flow freely.
- Adjust and point registers so warm air flows across the floor. Warm air rises, so the whole room will heat. Air deflectors can help if your vents aren’t adjustable.
- Keep the fireplace damper closed when you aren’t using it.
- Place a sheet of aluminum or aluminum foil between the wall and the radiator to reflect heat into the room.
- Be sure your air conditioner’s compressor/condenser unit located outside of the home is shaded. This way, they won’t have to work as hard to cool the air.
- Use your attic fan, if you have one. An attic exhaust fan blows the hot air out of the attic, keeping the air conditioner from having to work as hard.
- Use the sun to your advantage with your draperies. Let the sun in on cool days and keep it out on warm days.
- Choose low-wattage bulbs for decorative and protective lighting and higher-wattage bulbs for things like reading and sewing.
- Keep light fixtures clean. Dirty lamps reduce the amount of light, so you end up turning on more than you actually need.
Appliances and electronics
- Follow detergent instructions carefully. Over-sudsing makes the washing machine motor work harder than necessary.
- Avoid an overload! Load washers and dryers to capacity, but no more. Overloading can cut down on efficiency.
- Choose the right fabric and temperature settings to use as little water and energy as possible.
- Install the dryer in a heated area of the home. A dryer will have to work longer and harder in an unheated garage or utility room.
- Use automatic cycles on clothes dryers. Over-drying wastes energy. Plus, your clothes won’t last as long.
- Make sure your dryer is vented to the outside. This keeps your laundry area from becoming damp.
- Ditch the iron. When you remove clothes from the dryer and hang them up as soon as the cycle is finished, you eliminate a lot of ironing.
- Clean the lint filter on the dryer after each load to help keep the machine running efficiently.
- Plug electronics into a power strip. That way, you can turn them all off at the outlet, so you aren’t draining energy. Screensavers save screens, not energy.
- Replace old, outdated equipment with new energy-efficient models.
- Buy the right-sized equipment to meet your family’s needs, and compare appliances before you buy.
- Read appliance manuals carefully and follow the instructions. Manuals may also give specific information to help conserve energy.
We all know standing with the refrigerator door open lets out the cold. But there are lots of other ways you could be losing money. Find some ideas here.