Saving energy can be very simple, like turning off lights when you don’t need them. Or it can range into more extensive ideas such as doing a home energy audit to find opportunities to make your home more comfortable, efficient, and cost less to operate. Or they can be somewhere in-between.
The following is a list of No-Cost Options, Low-Cost Options, and Strategic Savings. Strategic Savings means that you might have to put more time and money into them, but they will be worth it!
- Reduce waste by turning off lights and appliances when you aren’t using them.
- Consolidate excess capacity. For example: use one large refrigerator instead of multiple mini-fridges.
- Eliminate obsolete or unused fixtures.
- Unplug appliances or chargers when not in use.
- Turn down your water heater setting to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (or 140 if your dishwasher does not have its own booster heater). A ten-degree temperature reduction on a water heater saves 3 to 5 percent in annual operating costs.
- Turn water heater settings down to “vacation” or “stand-by” if the house is to be vacant more than two days in a row.
- Try reducing your furnace’s thermostat setting to 68 degrees– or at least turn down the furnace when the home is unoccupied.
- Try turning air conditioner settings up to 78 degrees. Again– avoid running the air conditioner when the home is unoccupied. During the summer, either run the air conditioner or open your windows– don’t do both at the same time.
- Close the vents or radiators to rooms that are not regularly used.
- Be sure there are no appliances located near a thermostat– these appliances give off heat that will bias the temperature setting and space heating or cooling performance.
- Close window coverings on hot summer days on the side of the house that receives direct sunlight.
- Open window coverings on cold winter days on the side of the house that receives direct sunlight.
- Hang-dry clothing inside a spare bathroom especially in winter when household air is dry.
- Use the power settings on your computer to have the machine hibernate or sleep after a certain length of time.
- Regularly service the appliances you already have. Have annual maintenance performed on big appliances: change filters in air conditioners, have combustion tune-ups performed on furnaces, boilers, and water heaters.
- Shop for energy suppliers. Start by using the Maryland Public Service Commission’s website to find information about electricity and natural gas suppliers.
- Weather-seal doors and windows. Find gaps and penetrations in walls on cold winter days, especially around penetrations for pipes and wires. Fill these with expandable foam, caulk, or other durable sealing material. This will reduce air movement and also cut down on spiders, ants, and other small bugs.
- Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioning on moderately warm days.
- For any light fixtures that are used more than two hours per day, install compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent.
- Install occupancy sensors to control lighting in areas where lights tend to stay “on” unnecessarily.
- Minimize the bulb wattage on lights that are constantly “on.”
- Install low-flow aerators on water faucets and showerheads.
- Install and use a programmable thermostat. You may qualify for a free one if you sign up for BGE’s Peak Reward’s program.
- When it’s time to add or replace a major appliance, look for an EnergyStar logo and the yellow Energy Guide performance indicator.
- Do a little research on appliance choices at www.energystar.gov . This website shows annual operating cost estimates for various models of many appliances.
- Look for rebates or tax credits that may apply to certain appliance purchases. See www.dsireusa.org.
- Insulate walls and ceilings. Do this in the attic as well as the basement sill joist cavities.
- Insulate air distribution ducts. Also, insulate hot water distribution lines, especially the sections located closest to the water heater.
- Consider a home energy audit to have a professional identify the full range of energy improvements that are unique to your home. Visit http://www.resnet.us/directory/raters for more explanation of an energy audit and a directory of rated suppliers.