Multi-tasking while working from home? Be sure to turn off your computer if you’re away from for more than two hours. Turn off the monitor if you’re taking a computer break for more than 20 minutes. Plug all monitors, printers, scanners, routers and other accessories into a good-quality surge protector so you can turn them all off by flipping a single switch.
Keep that ‘turning off trend’ going. Turn off things like lights, TVs and entertainment systems when you are not in the room or are not using them.
Lower your thermostat to 68 F (or lower) in the winter. If you decrease the temperature by just one degree, you can save up to 5% on heating costs. Consider a programmable thermostat that you can set to lower the temperature when you’re away from home and increase before you come back. (In the summer, set your thermostat to 78 F while you’re home and higher before you leave the house for the day.)
If you’re sure you’ll shiver if you turn your thermostat down at night, throw an electric blanket or mattress pad on your bed. You’ll stay warm but still save about 3% on your energy bill for each degree you lower the thermostat. Just don’t leave the bedding on overnight unless it’s specifically designed for it. Instead, turn or blanket or pad on about 20 minutes before bed and turn it off when you get in. If your electric blanket is more than 10 years old, throw it out. It’s a fire hazard.
Seal and insulate your home. This is the best way to keep heat in and air out. Areas that may need sealing include corners, cracks, door frames and windows.
Free your vents. HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems will have to work twice as hard if vents are blocked by rugs, furniture or doors.
Locate your most frequently used furniture near interior walls; it’s colder to sit near exterior walls, especially those with windows.
Turn off your ceiling fan when you’re not in the room. Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, since they circulate room air but don’t change the temperature. A running ceiling fan in an empty room is only adding to your electricity use.
Do you wash multiple loads of laundry each week? Investing in an ENERGY STAR-certified washer could save you around $45 on your utility bill each year.
Your furnace’s air filter should be checked monthly and be replaced at the first sign of dirt (every three to six months). Make sure you always use a correctly sized filter positioned with the airflow arrow pointed in the correct direction. A good filter maintenance schedule protects your family’s health and your heating and cooling equipment.
A low-cost or no-cost way to save energy in cold weather months is to tape or affix heavy, clear plastic to the inside of your window frames to create an additional barrier against cold air. Ensure the plastic is tightly sealed to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
Another way to minimize heat loss through your windows: use insulated drapes, blackout curtains or cellular blinds. During daylight hours keep window shades open so the sun can heat your home for free. Close the curtains at night to keep heat in. In the summer, however, close your drapes or blinds when it’s sunny outside to block the heat.
Your refrigerator and freezer should keep your food cold but don’t set the temperature too low. The recommended temperature for the fresh food compartment is 34-40 F. For the freezer, it’s 5 F. To calculate the temperature in your refrigerator, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the fridge. After 24 hours, you can look to see what the thermometer says. Find out your freezer’s temperature by placing the appliance thermometer between frozen packages in the freezer. Again, read the thermometer after 24 hours.
Refrigerators exchange heat through a system of coils.A buildup of dust and pet hair will make the unit run longer to have the same cooling effect and use more electricity. Vacuum the coils on the back and underneath to increase efficiency.
Here’s another refrigerator- related tip: Don’t store uncovered or unwrapped foods in the fridge. Not only is it unsanitary — the food will release moisture that can make your compressor work harder.
Cleaning your stove/oven can save energy. A range or oven that is darkened from heavy use can absorb more heat and ultimately reduce its efficiency.
Give your stove a rest when you can. A microwave oven uses two-thirds less energy than your stove to cook and heat food.
Audit your home. Most electric cooperatives have energy advisors who will come to your home and conduct a thorough inspection to identify things you can do to improve its energy efficiency. Give your co-op a call to find out more.
Clean your clothes dryer. Lint buildup can prevent your dryer from running efficiently. To clean the vent, first unplug the dryer. Then remove the tubing from the back and vacuum in and around it. If you are able to remove the front panel of your dryer, vacuum inside it as well. If you don’t have access to the dryer vent tubing from the dryer to its outside vent because it’s in a wall or ceiling; cannot dismantle, clean and reassemble the sections yourself; or just don’t want the hassle of doing it yourself; hire a professional maintenance technician to clean your dryer vent annually … more or less frequently depending on how much laundry you do. Too much lint buildup can pose a fire hazard.
Limit your hot water use. Running the hot water when it’s not needed sends the energy used to heat it down the drain. Wash clothes in cold water and take shorter showers.
Your dishwasher uses less water — and less energy to heat the water — than washing dishes by hand. Deselect the “heated dry” option to let your dishes air-dry and you’ll save even more.
Your builder probably insulated plenty when your house was built. How long ago was that? Over time, attic and slab insulation an diminish or fall away from the surface it was meant to protect. Once that happens, warm air can escape through the roof or floor and cold air can get in. Check your insulation at least once a year and add or replace as needed.