Save money and keep your cool this summer by saving energy. As part of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) continuing outreach and education efforts, here are some easy, energy saving tips that are also available in a free guide for consumers.
By following a few easy, common sense guidelines, properly maintaining or upgrading your air conditioner, adding insulation and taking other easy energy-saving measures, you can cut your energy bills by 10 to 50 percent.
“Almost 45 percent of a homeowner’s utility bill goes for heating and cooling,” said Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman. “By taking a few simple steps, American families can make their homes more energy efficient and can save a significant amount of money, too.”
Your individual savings will depend on how energy-efficient your home is now, the type of home you have, and the area of the country where you live.
Use Air Conditioning and Fans Wisely
- Open windows and use portable or ceiling fans instead of operating your air conditioner.
- Use a fan with your window air conditioner to spread the cool air through your home.
- Use a programmable thermostat with your air conditioner to adjust the setting warmer at night or when no one is home.
- Don't place lamps or TVs near your air conditioning thermostat. The heat from these appliances will cause the air conditioner to run longer.
Look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
- If your air conditioner is old, the new energy efficient models can save you up to 50 percent on your cooling bills.
- Consider installing a whole house fan or evaporative cooler if appropriate for your climate.
Low Cost Tips to Save Energy
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents.
- Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
- Use a microwave oven instead of a conventional electric range or oven.
- Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
- Plug home electronics, such as TVs and VCRs, into power strips and turn power strips off when equipment is not in use.
- Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater. 115 degrees is comfortable for most uses
- Take showers instead of baths to reduce hot water use.
- Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
- Use cold water to wash your clothes.
Landscape for Energy Efficiency
- Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units, but do not block the airflow.
- A unit operating in the shade uses less electricity.
- Grown on trellises, vines such as ivy or grapevines can shade windows or the whole side of a house.
- Avoid landscaping with lots of unshaded rock, cement or asphalt on the south or west sides -- it increases the temperature around the house and radiates heat to the house after the sun has set.
- Trees whose leaves fall off in the winter, planted on the south and west sides, will keep your house cool in the summer and let the sun warm your home in the winter.
- Just three trees, properly placed around a house, can save between $100 and $250 annually in cooling and heating costs.
- Daytime air temperatures can be 3 to 6 degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods.
Shade Your Windows
- Sunny windows can make your air conditioner work two to three times harder.
- Install white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
- Close curtains on south- and west- facing windows during the day.
- Install awnings on south-facing windows.
- Because of the angle of the sun, trees, a trellis or a fence will best shade west-facing windows.
- Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows.
- If you want to replace your windows, consider the new double-pane windows with spectrally selective coatings.
- When buying windows or appliances, look for the Energy Star® label. Visit www.energystar.gov for more information.
- Air leaks can waste energy dollars year-round.
- Caulking and weatherstripping will keep cool air in during the summer.
- Add insulation around air conditioning ducts when they are located in un-air conditioned spaces such as attics, crawl spaces and garages.
- If you see holes or separated joints in your ducts, hire a professional to repair them.
- Check to see that your fireplace damper is tightly closed.
Invest in insulation.
The booklet Energy Savers - Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home is available in English and Spanish, with a wealth of energy- and dollar-saving information for the home. Both versions are on the web at http://www.eere.energy.gov/energy_savers and also available free from DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse at 1-800-DOE-3732. The interactive Energy Savers Virtual Home CD provides useful knowledge on saving money, energy and water. The CD is available free and may be ordered online at http://www.eere.energy.gov/catalog/ or by calling the EERE toll-free hotline at 1-877-EERE-INF (1-877-337-3463).