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Home Energy Tips

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!

No-Cost Options

  • 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.

Low-Cost Options

  • 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.

Strate­gic Savings

  • 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.


Green Tip

Clean your lint filter.Reduce fire hazard, increase dryer efficiency, and save money.