ENERGY SAVING TIPS
Easy and inexpensive:
- Turn down your water heater to the warm setting (120°F).
- Put an insulating blanket on your water heater. It will pay for itself in about one year.
- Start using energy-saving settings on refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes dryers.
- Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescents. CFLs use a quarter of the electricity used by incandescents and last ten times longer. Focus on replacing 60-100W bulbs used several hours a day. CFLs come in sizes and styles to fit most standard fixtures.
- Use task lighting and turn off overhead lights.
- Clean or replace furnace, air-conditioner and heat-pump filters.
- Make sure the fireplace damper is closed and in good condition.
Small investments of time and money:
- Install a water-heater blanket, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.
- Rope caulk leaky windows.
- Use weather stripping and door sweeps.
- Install outlet seals. These inserts fit under outlet and light switch plates, a common source of air leaks.
- Crawl into your attic or crawlspace and check the insulation. In Washington State, there should be about six inches to a foot of insulation in the crawlspace (R-19) and at least a foot in the attic (R-38). If you have adequate insulation, adding more may not be cost effective.
- Insulate hot water pipes and ducts wherever they run through unheated areas.
- Seal up air leaks in your house. The worst problems are usually not windows and doors, but penetrations around pipes, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
- Have your heating and cooling systems tuned up once a year. Duct sealing can also improve the performance of warm-air furnaces and central air conditioners.
- Seal ducts by brushing high-quality mastic around seams. Ironically, duct tape does not work well for this purpose.
Energy efficiency investments:
- Upgrade windows with energy-efficient models or boost their efficiency with weatherstripping and storm windows. See tax credits available under the federal Energy Bill.
- Install insulated window drapes or blinds. Fabric stores often have materials and instructions for making your own insulated window coverings.
- Consider replacing older major appliances, especially the refrigerator. New, energy-efficient refrigerators require about half as much energy as models manufactured before 1993. See tax credits available under the federal Energy Bill.
- If your furnace is older than 10 to 15 years, or your boiler is older than 20 years, a newer model will be more energy efficient.
Sources: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy; Energy Star; WSU Extension Energy Program; Project Energy Savers, sponsored by the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association; Seattle City Light
More tips from the Rocky Mountain Institute
Energy Efficiency: First Things First
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