Friday, July 23, 2010

10 Quick and (relatively) Painless Energy Savers

So, I thought I'd share some super EASY ways to save some energy - and some $.$$ - around the house:
  1. Compact Florescent Light Bulbs (CFL's)
    • If you haven't changed out your light bulbs already, shame on you! It easy and incredibly efficient - a CFL produces about 75% less heat! And now, there are a myriad of CFL's for almost any residential or commercial application.
  2. Power Down your Power Strips
  3. Stop the Air Leaks
    • Air leakage is the single most common source of energy loss through heat transfer (eg. cold drafts in the winter, 'hot spots' in the summer). With some simple investigation you can find and stop these nasty energy zappers with some well placed sealant. Spray foam application usually works the best, but sometimes a simple application of caulk or weatherstripping works just as well.
  4. Thermostats
    • Turn 'em up! (In the Summer, that is) or better yet, install a programmable thermostat  for each zone in your house. While programmables do not work for every situation, they can save you a significant amount of money on your heating and cooling bills when used properly.
    • Remember: program these with your household's schedule in mind and you won't have to condition your house when no one is home or while everyone is sleeping.
  5. Windows
    • While "windows" could be an entire blog on their own (and probably will be!) here's a few simple ideas that won't break the bank:
    • Make sure windows open and close properly, that there are no broken or cracked panes, glazing is not dried out or missing, and storm windows are installed and functioning properly.
    • Installing energy saving window covers or shades  can make a noticeable difference, too. Keeping the sun out reduces solar thermal gain in the warmer months and keeping the heated indoor air from contacting the cooler glass panes reduces heating loads in the cooler months.
  6. Domestic Hot Water
    • Simply reducing the thermostat on your hot water heater a few degrees (say from 130` to 120`) can save you a bundle. Especially since many newer appliances that use hot water (dishwashers and washing machines) have their own internal heaters to boost water temperature as needed. Not having to heat 40 (or more) gallons of hot water those few extra degrees can make a BIG difference.
    • Use this simple test: When the HOT water is on by itself, do you  have to turn on the COLD water to comfortably hold you hand under the faucet? If you do, you could probably stand to turn down your water temperature.
    • If your water heater is more than a couple of years old, rather than replacing it with an Energy Star model (like a Reliance/Added Sales 9-40-LKCT LP Energy Star Water Heater), investing in a water heater insulation blanket can help.
    • Wrapping your HOT water pipes with pipe insulation can make a difference as well.
  7. Filters ans Exhausts
    • Your various filters and exhaust ports need to be cleaned regularly. A simple visual inspection of you furnace filter should tell you all you need to know. Replacement filters are cheap and easy to replace. Just remember to SEAL UP the filter compartment after you change it. And by the way, duct tape is probably the worst thing you can use to seal up your ducts - go figure. It's awesome for just about everything else, but not too good for duct work because it has a tendency to become brittle over time. Try a foil backed tape instead.
    • Remember to clean out your Dryer lint filter and exhaust vent pipe  too! Not only can this save you money, but it could prevent a fire and unless you have smoke detectors, it could help save your life.
  8. Dish Washing
    • Start by washing only full loads. More dishes/per load = fewer loads, right? It take the same amount of energy to wash a full load as one that's partially empty.
    • AIR dry your dishes. Turn of the heated drying cycle unless you are planning to unload your dishes right away (I mean, who does that anyway?) If you dishwasher has an energy saving cycle - USE IT!
    • If your dishwasher is more that a few years old, think about replacing it with an Energy Star rated appliance like this one: Samsung : DMT300RFS 24in Energy Star Qualified Built-In Dishwasher - Stainless Steel - nnniiiice!
  9. Cooking
    • Yes, your cooking habits could be costing you money (and no, I'm not talking about the six-nights-a-week that you get take-out!)
    • Use a LID! When you are heating up anything on the stove, keeping a lid on the pot will drastically reduce the time (and thus, the energy) it takes to heat up. Also adding a little salt to your cooking water will reduce the boiling point slightly.
    • Do not pre-heat your oven prematurely. It does not take long, especially for newer ovens, to come up to temperature. No need to pre-heat for more that a couple of minutes.
    • Once again, if your appliance is more than a couple of years old (especially Electric ranges) consider replacing with a newer, more efficient model.
  10. Fireplace
    • If you have a fireplace that has fallen into dis-use (or it gets used only on 'special occasions') consider installing a fireplace balloon. These things are fantastic! Even with a properly functioning flue, you can loose a tremendous amount of heat from your chimney.
O.K.! now you're ready to run right out and start doing chores around the house, right?


Yea, I know. It seems like a lot. But remember, a few small steps every once in a while can lead to a much larger overall energy savings in the long run!

Also, I spoke a few times about Energy Star and Energy Star rated appliances. There are currently a TON of different programs around the country that offer rebates and incentives on new appliance purchases. I plan on doing an upcoming post about navigating the various rebate and incentive programs in the very near future.

Let me know what you think! Shoot me an E-MAIL or post your suggestions for saving energy below!



  1. Does anyone actually READ this?

  2. Glad to see you blogging. I did it for quite awhile but have been bad lately. Keep it up as I've already put a smart power strip on my to get list.

  3. Cool Dave! Thanks for letting me know you checked it out. I also ran across those power strips while researching this entry, so they're on my to-get list also!

  4. Saw your post on the 31 Days to build a better blog forum so yes, I definitely read it! My list post goes up tomorrow so come over and let me know what you think.
    Our blogs are pretty different though!

  5. Thx lixie! I will check it out...