Earthly Issues
About Earthly Issues Contact

Site Map

Donate

175 TIPS TO SAVE ENERGY

LIGHTING
  • Use one large light bulb instead of several small ones in areas where bright light is needed.  In general, the efficiency of incandescent light bulbs, as well as most light sources, increases as wattage increases.  Thus, one 100-watt incandescent bulb provides approximately the same amount of light as two 60-watt bulbs or four 40-watt bulbs, but consumes less electricity. 
  • Use compact fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs whenever you can.  Compact fluorescents are 3-4 times more efficient than incandescent and last 10 times as long.
  • Long-life incandescent light bulbs (which last from 1,500 to 3,500 hours) are less efficient than regular life incandescent because the filament is operated at a lower temperature to extend its life.  Energy-conscious consumers should use long-life bulbs only where replacement is difficult, or should consider replacing or converting incandescent lights to fluorescent lights which have a life of over 10,000 hours.
  • Replace light switches with motion or occupancy sensors.  Good locations include the garage and exterior or security lighting areas.
  • Consider installing solid state dimmer switches and dimming the lights when less light is needed.  Dimming reduces energy consumption.  But don't use them with most compact fluorescents, which are not compatible.
  • Select your lamp shades with energy efficiency in mind because they can make a big difference.  A lamp with a light-colored shade, especially one that's lined in white or highly transparent, will give the best light.  Tall, narrow shades or short, dark-colored shades let through less light, which may force you to turn on another light for sufficient illumination.
  • When you decorate, think light colors.  Dark colors absorb light, encouraging you to use more (or higher wattage) lights to light the room.
  • If you go away on vacation and leave your lights on for security reasons, use timers and set them to turn the lights off during the day.  They'll give your house a more lived-in appearance, and you'll save energy. 
  • Get into the habit of turning off lights when you leave a room.
  • When you use night lights, select energy-conserving 4-watt bulbs.  Or better yet, purchase the new green or blue-green light night lights with back light technology.  These night lights consume a mere 0.03 watts and cost only a few pennies a year to operate.
  • Use task lighting when you need lighting in one small area and then reduce background or ambient light levels.
  • Use natural daylighting when possible and reduce or eliminate artificial lighting.  Daylighting has been proven to have many benefits.
  • Use solar walkway and patio lights for outdoor accent lights.  These are widely available and easy to install.  You can install them yourself in a few minutes, since they don't require any wiring.
  • Select cold-start compact fluorescent, high-pressure sodium, or metal halide lights for outdoor lighting.  If you leave lights on all night, use light-sensor controls that automatically turn the lights on at dusk and off at dawn.

HEATING

  • Clean or replace filters regularly on furnaces and heat pumps; keep the outside units free from leaves or debris that may clog vents.
  • Program a clock thermostat for automatic energy savings.
  • Seal heating and cooling ducts in unconditioned spaces.
  • Close your blinds and drapes at night in the winter to keep the cold out.
  • When having an old furnace or boiler replaced, insist on having a heat loss analysis of your house performed to size the heating system properly.  Don't have the same size as the old unit installed; units used to be considerably oversized. The size of a new heating system should not exceed the peak heating demand by more than 25 percent.
  • When purchasing a new gas or oil heating system, specify sealed combustion. Sealed combustion units bring in outside air to feed the combustion process, and exhaust flue gases directly to the outside without the need for a draft hood or damper.  They generally burn more efficiently, and they do not pose the risk of backdrafting -- the flow of dangerous combustion gases into the house. 
  • Bleed the air from hot water radiators once or twice each heating system. Trapped air keeps systems from performing properly.
  • If your oil heating system is pre-1975 but is in good shape, consider a flame retention head burner retrofit.  A flame retention head burner burns fuel in a cleaner and more controlled manner, increasing efficiency and reducing pollution.  It often pays for itself in one to two years through lower heating costs.
  • In the winter remove and store window air conditioners, or cover them to reduce cold air from entering the house through the air conditioner.
  • If you heat your house with a heat pump and have a conventional thermostat, do not set back the temperature setting when the house is unoccupied during the day or when the occupants are asleep at night.  Setting back a conventional thermostat can cause the heat pump to operate inefficiently, canceling any savings achieved by lowering the temperature setting.  Do set back the thermostat if you have a setback heat pump thermostat.  This problem does not arise when the heat pump operates in the cooling mode.  Turning up the setting of both conventional and setback thermostats in the summer will save you energy and money.
  • If you have a hot water or steam heating system, put a reflector behind your radiator to reflect heat into the room that would normally be lost through the wall.
  • If you have reversible ceiling fans, set them in the winter to circulate the heated air collecting at the ceiling down towards the floor.
  • If you plan to buy a new furnace, select an energy-efficient unit.  Your contractor has energy fact sheets for each model; ask for them and compare energy usage.
  • Keep your heating system well tuned with periodic maintenance by a professional service person.  Oil-fired systems should be tuned up and cleaned every year, gas-fired every two years, and heat pumps every two to three years.  Ask the service person how the energy efficiency of the system could be increased.
  • If you plan a new gas heating system, ask your gas utility or public services commission about the savings potential of electronic ignition.  Ask also about possibilities for retrofitting the system you may already own.
  • Consider buying a properly sized gas furnace that incorporates an automatic stack damper (if permitted by your local jurisdiction code) or an induced draft fan, or choosing an oil furnace with a flame retention burner.  These devices reduce the loss of heat when the furnace is off.  (Contact your gas utility or oil supplier for guidance.)
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless you have a fire going.  An open damper in a 48-inch square fireplace can allow a heat loss of up to 8 percent through the chimney.
  • When your heating system is on, keep windows near your thermostat tightly closed.  Unnecessary drafts will keep your furnace working after the rest of the room has reached a comfortable temperature.
  • Have your oil furnace serviced at least once a year, preferably each summer to take advantage of off-season rates.  This simple precaution could save you up to 10 percent in fuel consumption. 
  • If you have oil heat, have your service person check to see if the firing rate is correct.  One survey found that many of the furnaces checked were over-fired.
  • Keep warm air registers clean and free of obstructions, such as furniture, carpets, and drapes.
  • When purchasing an air source heat pump, select a unit with a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor above 8.0.
  • Ask a heating professional if the efficiency of your heating system can be improved by reducing the system size; reducing draft (oil only); or installing a modulating aquastat (hot-water boilers only), a new oil burner, a pilotless ignition (gas only), an automatic flue damper, a flue economizer, or adjustable radiator vents and valves.  Some of these measures are not recommended or may not be suitable for your system.  Be sure these measures are performed only by a heating professional.

COOLING

  • Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner.  It will NOT cool faster.  It WILL cool to a lower temperature than you need and use more energy.
  • To operate your air conditioner unit more efficiently, turn on your ceiling fans.  These fans create air movement across the skin, lowering skin temperature through evaporation.  The homeowner can thus raise the A/C thermostat setting up to 4 degrees F without any decrease in comfort.  Each degree you raise the thermostat above 78 degrees F you save about 7-8 percent on your electric cooling costs.
  • Use landscaping, awnings, and overhangs to shade the outside of your house in summer.  A shaded house costs less to cool than one in direct sunlight.
  • When possible, use fans to keep cool instead of an air conditioner.  Fans consume only a small fraction of the energy of an air conditioner. 
  • If you plan to leave for a few minutes or more, turn the fan off.  Letting it run wastes energy and does nothing to cool the room--in fact, the heat from the motor actually warms the room a little. 
  • Clean the outside condenser coils of your heat pump or central air conditioner.
  • If you live in a warm or hot climate, consider adding a radiant barrier to your attic.  A radiant barrier is a shiny surfaced material, such as an aluminum-coated plastic sheeting, installed in the attic such that the shiny surface faces an air space (the attic space or air space between the barrier and the roof sheathing).  Radiant barriers reduce summer heat gain by reflecting much of the heat radiated from the roof back to the roof.
  • When it's time to shop for a new air conditioner, select a unit with a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (central air units) or energy efficiency Ratio (window units).  For humid climates, select a unit that also does a good job of dehumidifying.  And don't buy a unit larger than you need.
  • Set the fan speed of your central air conditioner on high except in very humid weather.  When it's humid, set the speed on low; you will get less cooling but more moisture will be removed from the air which will make it feel cooler. 
  • Do not position heat-producing appliances, such as televisions or lamps, near the thermostat that controls your air conditioner.  The heat they produce "fools" the thermostat and causes the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Take advantage of natural ventilation during the times of the year when this is feasible to reduce air conditioning usage. By opening and closing windows, different parts of a building can be ventilated.
  • If your ceiling fans are reversible, be sure to adjust the setting at the onset of the cooling season so that the blades turn to create a downdraft.
  • When purchasing ceiling fans, remember that a 36- or 42-inch fan works best for rooms 12 feet by 12 feet or smaller.  A 48- or 52-inch fan works best for rooms up to 12 feet by 18 feet.  Two medium-sized fans work best in a room longer than 18 feet.
  • Consider using a whole-house fan as part of your cooling strategy.  A whole-house fan is installed horizontally in the ceiling below the attic.  Whole-house fans consume considerably less energy than air conditioners.
  • Under appropriate weather conditions in the cooling season, use window fans mounted in windows to exhaust hot air that accumulates indoors during the day and, reversed at night, to pull in cooler outdoor air.
  • Clean or replace filters regularly on air conditioners; keep outside units free from leaves or debris that may clog vents.
  • Close doors and vents of unused rooms to avoid cooling these areas.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and use energy-efficient lights, especially when you have the air conditioner running, because lights generate a significant amount of heat.
  • Set the thermostat for your central air conditioning system at the highest comfortable setting (78-80 degrees F is recommended).  If you normally set it at 72 degrees F, raising it to 78 degrees F should save between 12 and 47 percent in cooling costs, depending on the climate where you live.
  • Plant trees or shrubs or use other shading devices to shade the air-conditioning unit from direct sunlight.  You can increase efficiency by up to 10 percent.  But do not block air flow.
  • Turn off your window air conditioners when you leave a room for several hours.
  • Keep your cooling system well tuned with periodic maintenance by a professional service person.  Ask the service person how the energy efficiency of the system could be increased.
  • In the cooling season, draw draperies, blinds, and shades indoors to keep out direct sunlight.
  • Consider turning off the furnace pilot light in the summer, but be sure it's reignited before you turn the furnace back on.
     

RECYCLING TO CONSERVE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES

  • If you change your own motor oil, recycle the old oil.  One gallon of used motor oil when recycled yields the same amount of refined lubricating oil--2.5 quarts--as 42 gallons of crude oil.
  • Don't dispose of your dead car battery.  Recycle it.  The typical car battery contains 18-20 pounds of lead-acid, a toxic substance that can cause serious adverse health effects if not disposed of properly.  Contact your local government for recycling sites.
  • Organize a recycling program in your office or community if one isn't already in place.
  • Buy recycled products.
  • Use a mug for coffee at work and home rather than a disposable cup.
  • Purchase long-lasting, durable items rather than disposable ones. 
  • Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable batteries.
  • Start a compost pile.
  • Buy the economy size of products when feasible.  You will probably save money, and it will reduce the number of containers being thrown away.
  • Buy products that have the smallest amount of packaging materials.
  • Request that your name not be sold to mailing list companies.  The average American receives an amount of junk mail each year that is equivalent to 1.5 trees.
  • Recycle your old newspapers.  If everyone in the United States recycled one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25 million trees every year.
  • Recycle your old glass bottles.  The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle will light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.
  • Choose returnable bottles instead of throwaway bottles when you have the option.  Disposable (throwaway) bottles consume three times as much energy as reusable, returnable bottles.
  • Recycle your old tin cans when you can.  Recycling and reusing the material in tin cans reduces related energy use by 74 percent; air pollution by 85 percent; solid waste by 95 percent; and water pollution by 76 percent.
  • Recycle your old aluminum cans when you can.  When you toss out one aluminum can you waste as much energy as if you'd filled the same can half full of gasoline and poured it onto the ground.
  • Recycle your old plastic soda bottles, milk bottles, detergent bottles, and whatever other plastic your community accepts for recycling.  These can be used to produce a variety of items, including other detergent bottles, plastic lumber, fiberfill sleeping bag insulation, and clothing.  Twenty-six recycled plastic soda bottles can make one polyester suit.
  • Use a mulching mower to mow your lawn.  You'll do your lawn good by putting the lawn cuttings back into the soil and you'll eliminate the need to dispose of these cuttings. The cuttings will serve as a mulch, retaining moisture in the soil, and are a natural fertilizer.
     

TRANSPORTATION

  • Use public transportation whenever possible.  One person commuting to work by mass transit instead of driving can save 200 gallons of gasoline in a year.
  • Share your ride.  Join a carpool or a vanpool.  About one-third of all private automobile mileage is for commuting to work.  If occupancy increased by just one person per car, more than 40 million gallons of gasoline would be saved each day.
  • Don't speed.  For every mile-per-hour over 55 mph, the average car or truck loses almost two percent in gas mileage.
  • When driving on the highway, use your cruise control to maintain a steady speed.
  • Keep your car or truck well tuned.  A well-tuned car uses up to 9 percent less fuel than a poorly tuned car and releases less pollution.
  • Keep the tires of your car or truck properly inflated.  Under-inflation shortens the life of a tire and decreases gas mileage.  For every pound per square inch (psi) below the proper level, there is an average increase in fuel consumption of 0.4 percent.
  • Remove unnecessary heavy items from your car.  Every extra 100 pounds costs you about half-a-mile-per-gallon.
  • Reduce drag when possible when you drive.  Drag increases fuel consumption.  If you drive with the windows open more drag is created.  Roof-mounted racks can increase drag by more than 40 percent if you stack luggage, bicycles, or skis on the roof and back of the car.
  • Ride a bike or walk to work, the local neighborhood store, or nearby friends.  Total vehicle emissions is reduced to zero.
  • Use energy conserving oils the next time you change your car's oil.  Labeled with "EC" lettering on the container, these oils can improve your gas mileage by one to two percent.
  • If your car is equipped with overdrive, be sure to use the overdrive gear when your speed dictates.  Your owner's manual will give you further information.
  • Don't start your car until you're ready to move, and avoid long idles.  Idling engines waste gas.  Limit car warm-ups in winter.
  • Drive smoothly. Accelerating slowly from a full stop can save you as much as two miles per gallon.  
  • Drive a friend or neighbor to work.  If every commuter car carried just one more passenger, we'd save 600,000 gallons of gasoline and keep 12 million pounds of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere every day. 

APPLIANCES

  • If you need to purchase a gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic (electronic) ignition system instead of pilot lights.  You'll save an average of up to a third of your gas use -- 41 percent in the oven and 53 percent on the top burners.
  • If you have a stove with pilot light, make sure the pilot light is burning efficiently--with a blue flame.  A yellowish flame indicates an adjustment is needed. 
  • Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean.  They will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
  • Use a kettle or cover the pan when boiling water; water will come to a boil faster and use less energy than if brought to a boil in an uncovered pan.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers.  Frost buildup increases the amount of energy needed to operate the appliance. Never allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
  • When cooking on the stove top, match the size of the pan to the heating element.  More heat will get to the pan; less will be lost to the surrounding air.
  • When operating a clothes dryer, keep the lint screen clean.  Remove lint after each load.  Lint impedes the flow of air in the dryer, which makes your clothes take longer to dry and requires the machine to use more energy. 
  • If your clothes dryer has an automatic dry cycle, use it.  Overdrying merely wastes energy. 
  • Try to use energy-intensive appliances such as dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, and electric ovens in the early morning or late evening hours to help reduce peakload energy use. 
  • Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold.  Recommended temperatures:  38 to 40 degrees F for fresh food compartment of the refrigerator; 5 degrees F for the freezer section.  (If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0 degrees F, however.)
  • If an existing motor fails and the repair cost is more than 60 percent of the price of a new energy-efficient motor, buy the new motor instead.
  • When you run your dishwasher, only wash full loads.  The dishwasher will use around 17 gallons of hot water each time, whether you wash one dish or a full load of dishes.
  • When you run your dishwasher, use the energy-saver setting, which eliminates the dry cycle, saving you energy and money.
  • Don't keep your ancient refrigerator plugged in down in the basement or garage to cool your six pack of beer or soda.  Old models consume considerably more energy than new models; you may be paying dearly just to keep a few drinks cold.
  • Check the condenser coils on your refrigerator at least twice a year, and keep them clean.  Refrigerators, refrigerator/freezers, and freezers with dirty condenser coils (found on the back or bottom of the appliance) consume more energy.
  • Check the door seals of your refrigerator, refrigerator/freezer, and freezer.  If the seal is cracked, or cold air is escaping, the seal (or perhaps the appliance, if it is very old) should be replaced.
  • Before you store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer, let them cool down.  That way, your appliance doesn't have to work as hard.
  • To be sure your refrigerator operates most efficiently, keep it full, but not overloaded.  (Overloading will prevent cold air from circulating properly.)
  • When washing clothes, wash in cold water whenever possible.  Save warm/hot water cycles for whites and hard-to-clean items.  Always rinse in cold water.
  • Don't pre-heat your oven, unless the foods, such as breads and cakes, require it.  For most foods, pre-heating isn't necessary and represents a waste of energy and money.
  • Thaw your foods completely before cooking.  That way, your stove or oven won't have to work as hard.
  • Use the sun's energy to dry your clothes when weather permits.  The energy's free, and your clothes smell fresher. 
  • Turn computers and computer monitors off during the day when they aren't being used for extended periods of time.
  • When you buy a computer monitor, buy only as large a monitor as you need.  Power consumption increases proportionately with the size of the monitor.  For example, a 17-inch color monitor consumes approximately 35 percent more energy than a 14-inch color monitor. 
  • When purchasing a computer monitor, if you don't need color consider a monochrome monitor.  A monochrome cathode ray tube (CRT) display consumes only 50 to 65 percent as much energy as a color CRT display.
  • If you cook with electricity, get in the habit of turning off the burners several minutes before the allotted cooking time is over.  The heating element will stay hot long enough to finish the cooking and you will save electricity.  The same principle applies to oven cooking.
  • When cooking in your oven, watch the clock or use a timer; don't continually open the oven door to check food.  Every time you open the door, heat escapes and your cooking uses more energy.
  • Use small electric pans or ovens for cooking small meals rather than the kitchen range or oven.  They use less energy.
  • Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens to do your cooking if you have them.  They can save energy by reducing cooking time.
  • Don't use too much detergent when doing the laundry; follow the instructions on the box or bottle.  Oversudsing makes your machine work harder and use more energy.
  • According to various studies, electric blankets consume an average of 150 kWh per year.  If you use one regularly and frequently forget to turn it off, plug it into a simple timer to be sure it is turned off when not in use.
  • If you have an older model color television with instant-on features, your TV set is drawing electricity even when it is not on.  Consider installing a switch on the cord to turn off when not in use, or unplug when not in use for any length of time. Newer solid-state TVs do not have this problem.
  • If you have a waterbed that is electrically heated, take measures to reduce this energy consumption.  Regularly making the bed with a comforter can save more than 30 percent, and insulating the sides of the bed can save over 10 percent.
  • Before drying clothes, sort them by fabric types.  Lightweight synthetics, which dry quickly, should not be dried with bath towels and natural fiber clothes, which take longer to dry.
  • When drying clothes, don't add wet items to a load of partially dry clothes.
  • Dry loads of clothes consecutively in the dryer to take advantage of the heat still in the dryer from the previous load.
  • If you have a clothes dryer, make sure you have a dryer vent hood outside that seals tightly when the dryer blower is not operating.  Although they may cost $15 to $20 more than standard flapper vents, they are more effective and well worth the extra money.
  • Reduce ironing time by buying clothes that are "no iron" or permanent press. 
  • Reduce ironing time by taking clothes out of the dryer slightly damp and hanging them up; this may eliminate the need for ironing.  Set the dryer to buzz when the clothes are slightly damp, if your dryer has this feature.
  • Remove permanent press clothes immediately after the clothes dryer has stopped.  Otherwise, you may find that the clothes are wrinkled and decide to iron them.  Use the cool-down cycle if your dryer has this feature.
  • When purchasing a washing machine, consider a horizontal-axis washer.  These washing machines use as little as one-third the water that a common vertical-axis washer uses, thereby reducing energy consumption by nearly two-thirds.
  • When cooking in pans, consider copper-bottom pans, which heat up quicker than regular pans.
  • Use a crockpot to cook stews and soups that require a long time to cook.
  • Use flat-bottomed cookware (or ideally with a slightly concave bottom that flattens out when heated) that make complete contact with the burner surface when cooking on electric burners, solid disk elements, and radiant elements under ceramic glass.
  • Cover foods, especially liquids, before storing them in the refrigerator; otherwise moisture that enters the refrigerator compartment causes the refrigerator to work harder and use more energy.
  • Turn computers and computer monitors off at night and on weekends.  

BUILDING ENVELOPE

  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air. 
  • Look for air leaks through openings where plumbing, electrical wiring, or cables go through walls, floors, and ceilings.  Check for drafts from electrical outlets, around ceiling fixtures, and at openings to the attic.  Seal cracks and holes that you find.
  • Seal air leaks in your attic and walls.
  • Insulate your home properly.  Adequate insulation will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  • If you're replacing windows in your house, select windows that have low U-values and that seal tightly.  Compare U-values (U-factors) carefully, and select high-performance units with low-E (low-emissivity) coatings and gas filling.  Also insist on windows with air tightness values of .05 or lower. 
  • Don't let cold air seep into your home through the attic access door.  Check the door to make sure it is well insulated and weatherstripped, otherwise you'll be wasting fuel to heat that cool air.
  • When shopping for windows, use the energy performance labels developed by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) -- many windows on the market carry them -- as your guide to selecting energy-efficient units.
  • When shopping for windows, insist on windows that carry long warranties against seal failures.  When seals fail, moisture forms between the panes and the windows need to be professionally repaired or replaced.  Moreover, there is the loss of low-conductivity gas if this window is gas filled.

WATER HEATING AND WATER CONSERVATION

  • Repair leaky faucets promptly. 
  • Install low-flow shower heads.
  • Insulate your hot water piping and storage tank (especially if your tank is old and has little built-in insulation).  Savings up to 9 percent have been reported by adding an insulated blanket over the tank, and three percent of the energy used to heat water can be saved by insulating the first 25 feet of distribution pipe. 
  • If your hot water heater is set at 140 degrees F, set it back to 120 degrees F-- unless you have an old dishwasher that does not have an internal heating element that can raise the temperature to 140 degrees F (the temperature needed for detergents to clean effectively).
  • Install a solar water heater (especially if you have an electric water heater and pay high electricity prices).
  • Install low-flow aerators on kitchen and bathroom sink faucets to save water (and the energy used to produce hot water).  They will cut water usage by as much as 280 gallons a month for a typical family of four.
  • Fill a basin when you wash the dishes by hand instead of letting the water run.  You could save up to 25 gallons of water each time you wash dishes.
  • Don't leave the water running when brushing your teeth.  You could save as much as 9 gallons each time you brush.
  • Fill the basin when you shave instead of keeping the water running.  You'll use only one gallon of water instead of up to 15 gallons.
  • Use cold water rather than hot to operate your food disposer.  This saves the energy needed to heat the water, is recommended for the appliances, and aids in getting rid of grease.  Grease solidifies in cold water and can be ground up and washed away.
  • If you need to rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, use cold water.
  • Don't use the "rinse hold" on your dishwasher for just a few soiled dishes.  It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.
  • If you get hot water from a tankless coil water heater, examine alternatives to save energy in the summer.  Currently your boiler must work constantly all summer long to provide you with hot water.  In cold climates, installing an indirect water heater is generally the most cost-effective option.  This system draws heat from the boiler and stores hot water, eliminating the need for your boiler to operate constantly.

SWIMMING POOLS, SPAS, AND HOT TUBS

  • If you heat an outdoor swimming pool, consider lowering the thermostat on your pool's heater.  Every 1 degree F reduction can cut your energy usage by 5 to 10 percent.
  • If you heat an outdoor swimming pool, try to keep the heat from escaping by using a swimming pool cover when not in use.  Almost all of a pool's heat loss--about 95 percent--occurs at the surface through evaporation, convection, conduction, and radiation to the sky.  A pool cover substantially reduces this loss of heat.  A cover also helps keep the pool clean and extends the life of the chemicals in your pool.  And with a transparent plastic cover, you may actually gain heat as the sun's rays pass through the cover and heat the water.
  • If you have an outdoor swimming pool, consider reducing the amount of time you run the circulation pump.  In a Florida study, most people who reduced pumping time to less than 3 hours per day were still happy with the water's quality.  On average, this saved up to 60 percent of the electricity used for pumping.
  • Swimming pool owners can save energy by using smaller or higher efficiency pumps.  When a pump wears out or can't be repaired, install a high efficiency unit that is not oversized for its needs.  A Florida study found that a 0.75 horsepower or smaller pump is generally sufficient for residential pools.  Smaller pumps, which cost less, can be used if you decrease the pool circulation system's hydraulic resistance.  This can be done by one or more of the following:  substituting a large filter (rated at least 50 percent higher than the pool's design flow rate), increasing the diameter or decreasing the length of the pipes, or replacing abrupt 90-degree elbows with 45-degree elbows or flexible pipe.  These types of changes can slash up to 40 percent of the pump's use of electricity.
  • Spas and hot tubs can consume a tremendous amount of energy.  If you have one, keep it covered with a tight-fitting insulated cover when not in use.  If installing a spa or hot tub, insulate it well around the sides and bottom. 

 WOOD-BURNING APPLIANCES

  • When burning wood in a fireplace or woodstove, select only good quality, dry wood.
  • Regularly inspect your flue for creosote buildup when operating a fireplace or woodstove and have a chimney sweep clean the chimney when needed.  You can perform routine maintenance between professional cleanings by using a wire chimney brush made specifically for this purpose.  Never intentionally create a small chimney fire in order to burn off creosote; this may crack the flue liner, making the hazard from a subsequent chimney fire greater. 
  • If you are buying a wood-burning appliance, make sure it is properly sized.  An oversized stove is a potential fire hazard because it is often operated in an air-starved or extremely slow-fire condition, which leads to excessive creosote buildup.  Too much creosote buildup inside the chimney increases the risk of chimney fires.  Oversized stoves also burn fuel inefficiently.  Conversely, an undersized stove is usually over-fired.  Although an undersized stove usually burns wood efficiently and poses less of a risk for chimney fires, over-firing can severely damage the stove.
  • If you have a simple open masonry fireplace that you use in the winter, consider installing a glass screen, a convective grate, a combination convective grate with glass screen, a radiant grate, or a fireplace insert.  Some of these devices will cut down on the loss of warm air through the fireplace chimney.  These accessories may improve heat recovery from the fire.  

HOME ENERGY AUDITS

  • Have a professional energy audit performed on your home to determine whether your home wastes energy, and to pinpoint where energy is being lost.  Contact your local utility to see if they do audits, or ask them who performs them in your area.
  • Conduct a simple do-it-yourself energy audit of your home or office to pinpoint where energy is being lost.
  • Have a house doctor conduct a building pressurization test, commonly called a blower-door test, to determine the air tightness of your house and to pinpoint air leaks.
  • Have a house doctor conduct a thermographic inspection of your house or business to identify areas of inadequate insulation or inefficient machinery.  

 

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Take advantage of time-of-day or time-of-use rates if your utility offers these by shifting usage of appliances to off-peak hours when rates are lower.  Though this doesn't save energy, it will lower your energy bills.  (Since it may allow your utility company to avoid calling its older, back-up generator into service, which is typically less efficient, the utility company may save energy.)
  • Check with your local utility company for literature on ways to conserve energy.
  • Plant a tree and take care of it.  If every American family planted just one tree, all of these trees would remove more than a billion pounds of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere every year.

 Credit: United States Navy-Department of the Navy's Energy Program