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How to Be More Efficient

You will be amazed at what little effort and money it takes to trim your energy costs and at the same time increase the comfort level of your home.

  • Keep your thermostat set at a conservative level: 76 to 80 degrees in the summer, 65 to 70 degrees in the winter. It reduces the load on your heating and cooling system, and since it’s not running as much, you’re saving money.
  • Check your doors for air infiltration and install weather-stripping if necessary. Keep window blinds closed in the summer to prevent solar heat entry and open in the winter to take advantage of it.
  • If you have ceiling fans, reverse the direction of the blades to circulate warm air down from the ceiling in the winter time.
  • Turn the water off while shaving or brushing your teeth. Up to five gallons of water per minute can be wasted this way. Also, keep in mind that a shower uses about seven gallons of water per minute. Install low-flow aerators on faucets and low-flow showerheads at a very low cost.
  • Even though one lamp doesn’t use that much electricity, every little bit adds up!


  • Fluorescent lighting is more economical than incandescent lighting. Fluorescent lights use one quarter of the energy that incandescent bulbs use to produce the same amount of light. Fluorescent lights are now available in bulbs.
  • Use lower-wattage bulbs in lamps and fixtures, except in cases where you need the light for reading or sewing. For example, use 40-watt instead of 60-watt, or 60-watt instead of 75-watt.
  • Place table lamps in corners for better light reflections. Set outdoor lights on photoelectric cells or clock timers.


  • Clean or change furnace filters frequently, dirty filters block the airflow. Also, keep the outdoor coil free of debris.
  • If possible, install a humidifier. It adds moisture to the air in the winter and makes the home “feel” warmer at a lower temperature.
  • Set the thermostat a few degrees lower during the night. Heat pump owners should set a desired temperature and leave it unless they have a special nighttime setback thermostat specifically designed for heat pumps. Many people prefer a constant reduced temperature. When away from home for several days, lower the thermostat.
  • Thermostats for heating and air-conditioning should be on an inside wall or where they will not be subject to draft or heat from appliances. Clean the thermostat yearly by removing the cover and carefully blowing away any dust.
  • Dust on radiators or baseboard units acts as insulation and wastes heat.  Dust or vacuum these surfaces frequently.

Air Conditioners

  • Be sure the air-conditioning equipment is the right size for your home.  A unit too small can’t handle all your cooling needs, and one that’s too big won’t maintain the proper humidity levels, which can make you very uncomfortable.
  • Check your ductwork for leaks, especially at connection joints. Insulate ducts installed in areas not air-conditioned, such as attics, vented crawl spaces, garages and basements.
  • Furniture and draperies that block cooling outlets restrict air circulation and overwork the cooling equipment. Make sure that air ducts are not blocked.


  • Keep the fireplace damper closed when not in use, but be sure the fire is out and the ashes are cold before closing the damper.
  • A glass door reduces the draft of an open fireplace.

Doors and Windows

  • Open and close outside doors and windows as seldom as possible. When they are opened, make an extra effort to close them quickly.
  • Open draperies during the day so that the sun’s heat can help warm your home. Closing them at night helps to retain heat. Insulated drapes or linings reduce heat loss even more.
  • Be sure to use storm windows or double or triple glazing on your windows, since glass windows can be major culprits in heat loss.
  • Caulk and weather-strip all windows and doors to prevent cold drafts and unwanted heat loss.


  • Make sure that all your water faucets are completely turned off. One leaky faucet can waste 2,000 gallons of water per year, sending your savings down the drain.
  • Take showers instead of baths. An average shower uses 30% less water than a normal bath, and get in the habit of taking quick showers. An energy-saving shower uses only 2 to 3 gallons of water per minute instead of 5 to 7 gallons, saving 20 to 40 gallons of water over a 10-minute shower.
  • Insulating your water heater can save as much as 10% of your water-heating energy. Water heater insulation kits are available in all sizes and are easy to install.  This insulation is especially helpful for older water heaters.
  • Check the thermostat setting of your water heater. We recommend 120 – 125 degrees. Setting the water heater temperature to 120 degrees will reduce the risk of scalds. Some states require settings at specific lower temperatures.

The following chart will show you how quickly very hot water can cause serious burns:

Temperature setting on your water heater:The time it takes to produce 2nd and 3rd degree burns on adult skin:
Approximately 160F (very hot)About 1/2 second
Approximately 150FAbout 1 1/2 seconds
Approximately 140FLess than 5 seconds
Approximately 130FAbout 30 seconds
Approximately 120F (hot)More than 5 minutes
  • Insulate hot water pipes from the water heater to source of use.
  • You can lengthen the life of your water heater and maintain storage capacity by draining sediment from the bottom of the tank at least once or twice a year.

Kitchen Appliances

Refrigerators and Freezers

  • Don’t overload your refrigerator or freezer. They operate best when nearly full and when air can circulate freely among the stored items.
  • Limit the number of times you open and close your refrigerator. Check for door-seal tightness by placing a piece of paper between the door gasket and the cabinet. If you can pull the paper easily, the seal should be replaced.
  • Vacuum the condenser coils on the bottom or back of the unit twice a year to maintain peak operating efficiency.
  • Never allow excess frost in the freezer. Heavy frost overworks the the equipment.


  • Keep the oven door closed when cooking. If you need to open it, close it quickly to reduce heat waste.
  • When using the oven, you can make full use of its heat by baking extra meals such as casseroles and meat loaves, and freezing them for later use.
  • After you’ve finished cooking, use the remaining oven heat to warm plates and rolls.
  • Don’t use the oven as a room heater; it wastes lots of energy. It is also extremely dangerous!


  • Match the pan size with the size of the cooking element or burner. The bottom of all pans should be flat for efficient contact with the units.
  • Tight-fitting lids retain heat and moisture in pots and pans. Try not to lift the cover too often.
  • Prepare small meals with special appliances such as electric frying pans, toaster ovens, and broilers. Normally, they use less energy than a conventional range.


  • Scrape and rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Cold water can be used to rinse dishes immediately after a meal.
  • Make sure your dishwasher is fully loaded. By doing so, you save water, detergent and the energy required to heat the water for a number of loads.
  • Newer dishwashers have energy-saving cycles which allow dishes to dry without additional heat. You might want to try this to see if this feature meets your needs.
  • To reduce heat and humidity in the summer, operate the dishwasher during the cooler morning and evening hours.
  • Avoid extensive use of hot water in the laundry or bathroom immediately before and during dishwasher operation.

Washers and Dryers

  • Ninety percent of the energy for laundry goes to heating the water, so use an appropriate wash temperature and a cold rinse. When possible, use cold or warm instead of hot water.
  • Place different-sized garments in a single load for better water circulation. Wait until you have a full load but don’t overload the machine. Overloading reduces efficiency.
  • Use the proper water-level setting for your load size.
  • Always clean the lint filter before and after drying.
  • Don’t overdry clothes. In some cases, removing clothes while they are slightly damp allows for easier ironing.
  • Make sure your dryer is vented outside to reduce excess heat and moisture.
  • Don’t overload the dryer. It overburdens the machine, and the clothes take longer to dry.