General Tips

Whether you use natural gas or electricity as your energy source, making small changes can make a big difference when it comes to energy efficiency. 

Here's a typical breakdown for your energy usage.

*Information obtained from ENERGY STAR®.

Here Are Some Tips to Help You Manage Your Energy Usage Wisely:

  • Turn off all lights, televisions, radios and appliances when they're not in use.
  • Use low-wattage light bulbs, and replace your incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones whenever possible.
  • Dust or vacuum ducts, registers, radiators and refrigerator coils regularly, and bleed air from hot water radiators periodically.
  • Keep your appliances free of dirt and grease (which can reduce operating efficiency.)
  • Keep heating and air conditioning system filters clean. When the filters are dirty or clogged, these systems must work harder, requiring more energy.
  • For gas furnaces, make sure there is a good supply of outside air available so that the gas burns efficiently and safely.
  • If you have a hot water or steam system, bleed the radiator to remove air that can reduce the radiator's efficiency. This can be done with a simple radiator key (available at your local hardware store).
  • If your heating and cooling unit is more than 15 years old, you should consider replacing it with one of the newer, energy-efficient units.
  • Check your ductwork for dirt streaks, especially near seams. These indicate air leaks, and they should be sealed with duct mastic. Insulate any ducts or pipes that travel through unheated spaces. An insulation R-Value of 6 is the recommended minimum.
  • Have your heating and cooling system checked periodically by a licensed professional.
  • Reduce your water-heating bill by 10% by lowering the water heater temperature from 140º to 120º F. Keep the temperature at 140º F if you use a dishwasher without a temperature booster.
  • Once a year, drain a bucketful of water out of the bottom of the water heater tank. This gets rid of sediment, which can "block" the water in the tank from the heating element.
  • Consider buying a water heater insulation kit, which reduces the amount of heat lost through the walls of the tank. Insulate your hot water supply pipes to reduce heat loss. Hardware stores sell pipe insulation kits.
  • Natural gas water heaters have about a 50% lower operating cost than electric water heaters. A natural gas water heater typically has a substantially faster recovery rate than an electric water heater so you have the hot water you need, when you need it.
  • Clean your thermostat yearly to keep it accurate. Just remove its cover and blow away accumulated dust.
  • To more closely monitor your thermostat, place an inexpensive thermometer next to it. Use the thermometer to gauge the accuracy of your thermostat.
  • Replace your old thermostat with one of the newer clock models that can be set to automatically lower the temperature at bedtime and raise it in the morning. Some can be programmed to raise the setting several times a day.
  • Install insulating gaskets in electrical outlets or switches on outside walls. Kits are available at hardware and home improvement stores.
  • Place aluminum foil reflectors behind radiators to reflect heat back into the room.
  • Make sure your thermostat is located on an interior wall. Keep sources of heat, like lamps, stereos and televisions, away from the thermostat. They will interfere with its ability to measure the room temperature accurately.
  • The best way to reduce your computer and monitor's energy consumption is to turn it off when not in use.
  • If your computer has a "sleep" mode, make sure that this feature is enabled. With sleep mode active, the computer will automatically convert to a low-energy mode when not in use, cutting energy usage to less than half.
  • Other energy-saving ideas include "smart" power strips that sense your presence or absence and turn the attached equipment on and off accordingly.
  • Turn off printers, speakers, and scanners when not in use.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights. Start with the lights you leave on for long periods, such as those which illuminate front and back doors and porches and the bulbs outside and inside the garage. Then change the bulbs in your laundry, utility and storage rooms, basement, attic and shed.
  • If you prefer incandescent bulbs, try to use "energy saver" bulbs. These bulbs use halogen gases that allow the filament to burn brighter while consuming less electricity.
  • Replace outdoor lighting with motion-detector lighting. Outdoor lights that are left on all night can add unnecessary costs to your power bill. Using a bulb or fixture with a motion detector solves this problem. Installing a new fixture may require some professional assistance, but it's worth the cost.
  • A lot of energy can be saved by matching as closely as possible light bulb wattage to lighting needs. A high wattage reading light in a hallway or alcove is not energy efficient or useful. Keep this practice in mind for your outdoor fixtures too. Fixtures that cast their light downward help to reduce the effects of light pollution and provide more light where you need it.
  • Turn three-way bulbs to lowest settings.  
  • Use dimmers to reduce the wattage and output of light bulbs. Dimmers also significantly increase the life of incandescent bulbs. Keeping lights and fixtures clean can improve efficiency as much as 20%. Take advantage of reflected light by keeping portable fixtures as close as possible to light colored walls or other surfaces.
  • Windows can be one of your home's most attractive features, but also account for 10 to 25%of your heating bill. Single-pane windows are the most inefficient, but it is possible to increase their efficiency. You can install storm windows to reduce air leaks and reduce heat loss by 25 – 50%. Storm windows should have weather stripping at all moveable joints and be made of strong durable materials.
  • Repair and weatherize your current storm windows, if necessary.
  • Look for dirty spots around your window. They often indicate a hole where air leaks into your house.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
  • Low-cost options for improving windows are caulking, weather stripping, retrofit window films and window treatments.
  • Moveable insulation, such as insulating shades, shutters, and drapes can be used on the inside of windows to reduce heat loss in the winter and reduce heat gain in the summer. Shading devices such as awnings, exterior shutters, or screens can be used to reduce unwanted heat gain in the summer. In some cases, these window treatments are more cost-effective than energy efficient window replacements and should be considered first.
  • Tinted glass and tinted window films have long been used in commercial buildings to reduce heat gain through windows. Improved, lightly tinted windows are becoming more common for homeowners. These new glazings reduce the solar heat gain without reducing too much visibility.
  • Landscaping can help block and absorb the sun's energy by providing shade and evaporative cooling, which can reduce the air temperature around your home. Air temperatures can be three to six degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods than in those with few or small trees.
  • Trees that lose their leaves in the fall (i.e., deciduous) are most effective at reducing heating and cooling energy costs. When selectively placed around a house, they provide excellent protection from the summer sun, but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house.
  • Evergreen trees planted on the northwest corner of your property can block winter winds and can save you up to 10% on your heating bill. Deflect warm summer winds by planting them on the south and west sides of your house.
  • Windbreaks planted on three sides of the house can save up to 15% on your heating bill.
  • Shade trees do a better job of cooling a building than Venetian blinds, plastic coatings, or reflective coatings on windows.
  • Shade your air conditioner to increase its efficiency by 10% during peak periods.
  • Shrubs planted on all sides of the house help reduce wall and soil temperatures.
  • Plant vines on a trellis a few feet from the wall to shade your walls and windows.
  • Replace old appliances with Energy Star appliances. Having an energy efficient refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer can save you 30% on your energy bill compared to lower efficiency appliances.
  • If you have a pool or spa, set the heater thermostat to 78°F or lower.
  • Use a timer on your pool or spa to operate the filter pump.
  • Use a cover or blanket on pools and spas when they are not in use.

EnergyStar PSNC Energy is proud to partner with ENERGY STAR to promote energy efficient products and practices that save money and protect our environment.

This information was obtained by PSNC Energy from various third party sources. These sources, and the information obtained from them, will be provided to you on request to PSNC Energy. PSNC believes the information to be accurate and complete, but has not verified or confirmed the information. Before relying on this information, you should independently verify its accuracy and completeness.
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