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Excerpts from U.S. Department of Energy www.energy.gov
Appliances and Electronics
- Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These "phantom" loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
- There is a common misconception that screen savers reduce energy use by monitors; they do not. Automatic switching to sleep mode or manually turning monitors off is always the better approach for saving energy.
- Always look for energy-rated and energy efficiency labels when shopping for home appliances. These labels should give pertinent information regarding estimated energy consumption and other facts necessary to make an informed decision when shopping for appliances.
- For older appliances, use a power controlling device to reduce the energy consumption of the appliance's electric motor.
Heating and Cooling
- Use fans during the summer to create a wind chill effect that will make your home more comfortable. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
- Certain ‘energy efficient’ labeled products can cut your energy bills by up to 30 percent. Whether you’re shopping for heating and cooling systems, appliances, lighting, windows, office equipment and home electronics.
- Install a programmable thermostat that can be adjust the temperature according to your schedule.
- Planting shrubs, bushes, and vines next to your house creates dead air spaces that insulate your home in both winter and summer. Plant so there will be at least 1 foot (30 centimeters) of space between full-grown plants and your home's wall.
- During winter, dense, low-lying trees and shrubbery on the north and northeast sides of your home can help protect your home against wind chill.
- Use dimmers, three-way bulbs, motion sensors, or occupancy sensors to automatically turn on or off lighting as needed and prevent energy waste
- Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in place of comparable incandescent bulbs to save about 50 percent on your lighting costs. CFLs use only one-fourth the energy and last up to 10 times longer.
- During winter, open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Insulate your electric, natural gas or oil hot-water storage tank. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations; when in doubt, get professional help.
- Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household.
- Select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) for maximum water efficiency. Before 1992, some showerheads had flow rates of 5.5 gpm, so you might want to replace them if you're not sure of their flow rates.
- Don't place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
- Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.
- Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
- Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but not to block the airflow. Place your room air conditioner on the north side of the house. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
- During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable when home.
- By resetting your programmable thermostat from 72 degrees to 65 degrees for eight hours a day (for instance, while no one is home or while everyone is tucked in bed) you can cut your heating bill by up to 10 percent.
- Weatherize your home—caulk and weatherstrip any doors and windows that leak air.