Top 10 Winter Energy Saving Tips
Start by setting your thermostat to 68°. Your heating system will operate less and use less energy. Turn your thermostat down 5° at night or when leaving your home for an hour or more to save up to $70 on energy costs each year**. For a small investment, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat to adjust your home’s temperature settings automatically when you’re sleeping or away.
Set your water heater to 120°. It’s simple. Your water heater won’t have to work so hard if it’s set at a lower temperature. The temperature control settings on water heaters either indicate “low, medium, and high” or actual temperature settings. Simply consider turning down your water heater to a slightly cooler setting to reduce the amount of energy used to heat the water while still keeping the water warm enough for home use. In fact, each time you lower the temperature by 10°F you’ll save 3–5% on your water heating costs. That’s a savings of $6-$10 a year*. For a small investment (~ $20) consider adding a water heater blanket to your water heater tank to insulate the tank and reduce the amount of energy used to maintain warm water in the water heater tank. Be sure to follow your manufacturer’s recommendations.
In the winter, to make the most of natural sunlight by opening window coverings on south-facing windows to warm your home. Also, consider closing window coverings in rooms that receive no direct sunlight to insulate from cold window drafts. At night, close window coverings to retain heat. Up to 15% of your heat can escape through unprotected windows, but the solar heat gain from the sun during the day can conserve valuable energy.
If you have a clothes washing machine, use cold water. According to ENERGY STAR, washing clothes in cold water will save you about $40 a year with an electric water heater and about $30 a year with a gas water heater***.
Replace your furnace or heat pump filter regularly. Dirty filters reduce airflow, making your equipment work harder and use more energy. Replace your furnace filter monthly (unless it is a high efficiency filter designed to last several months) during the heating season to reduce heating costs by up to 5% or about $35 a year.
Install water-efficient shower heads and faucets. It really helps! 1.8 gallon per minute shower heads can reduce your hot water consumption by as much as 10%. You’ll see savings up to $6 per year for a sink faucet aerator and $20 per year for a shower head.
Switch to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. They cost a little more, but you can save about $40 over the life of just one bulb.
Weatherize your home and save up to 10% of your heating and cooling costs. A handy homeowner can seal up holes to the outside by weather-stripping doors and sealing windows and gaps along the home’s foundation.
Insulate your home! The easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate your home is to add insulation in the attic. Other effective places to add insulation include unfinished basement walls and crawlspaces. Insulating walls can be more complex, so check with a contractor for advice. When insulation is correctly installed AND the home is totally weatherized, the average home can see a savings of up to 20% of your heating and cooling costs.
Purchase ENERGY STAR® appliances. A smart choice. Appliances and electronics really contribute to your energy bill. When it is time to replace, remember items like refrigerators, washers, dryers, furnaces, TVs and computers have two price tags–purchase price and lifetime energy cost.
According to ENERGY STAR****, the average homeowner spends about $2,000 on energy bills every year. Change to appliances that have earned the ENERGY STAR rating, and you can save $75 a year in energy costs, while saving the environment.
Space Heating and Cooling
In the winter:
Turn your thermostat down to 68° daytime, 60° at bedtime and when leaving home.
Clean or replace furnace filter every month.
Keep vents clean and clear of furniture.
Close vents and doors to unused rooms.
Close fireplace dampers when not in use.
Close the heat registers and shut the doors of unoccupied rooms.
Seal leaky ducts.
Remove window-mounted air conditioners each fall.
Install a programmable thermostat
Have your heating system every two to three years by a HVAC professional. Make sure your fireplace is sealed when it’s not being used.
Consider weather-stripping, caulking and insulation to control air infiltration.
Insulate air ducts that run through unheated basements, crawl spaces and attics. Consider a technical energy audit to help identify air leaks.
In the summer:
Keep thermostat set at 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher if you have ceiling fans. Keep the house closed tight during the day and ventilate at night naturally or with fans.
Use ceiling fans to increase comfort level.
Delay heat-generating activities such as using a dishwasher or clothes dryer until evening on hot days (even better – skip the clothes dryer and hang your laundry outside to dry).
Properly maintain air conditioners to maximize efficiency.
If using central air conditioning, replace your furnace filter every month.
Consider an evaporative cooler instead of an air conditioner. They work well in Colorado’s climate, and use one quarter of the energy.
Identify and install the best insulation for your home. Be sure to seal air leaks before adding insulation.
Purchase ENERGY STAR appliances.
Defrost refrigerators and freezers regularly.
Line dry clothes whenever possible.
Separate clothes and dry similar types together.
Dry full loads, but be careful not to overload.
Dry two or more loads in a row to take advantage of the heat still in the dryer from the first load.
Clean the lint trap after every load.
Cook food in covered pans and match burner size to size of pan.
Dust or vacuum refrigerator and freezer coils at least once a year.
Keep the top of your refrigerator uncluttered to allow for proper air circulation to the compressor.
Maintain your refrigerator at three-quarters full to allow room for air to circulate around the food.
Avoid holding the freezer or refrigerator door open unnecessarily.
Allow hot food items to cool before putting them into the refrigerator or freezer.
Cover foods and liquids because uncovered/items release moisture into the refrigerator compartment, increasing energy use.
On electric stoves, use only flat-bottomed pans that make full contact with the heating coils.
The temperature of the refrigerator compartment should be 36 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit; the temperature of the freezer compartment should be 0 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
When purchasing new appliances, compare energy efficiency labels.
Consider purchasing computers and home office equipment that have low-energy settings.
Purchase ENERGY STAR electronics when possible.
Unplug electronic device chargers when not in use.
Plug electronics into a surge protector and turn it off when not in use to avoid “phantom load” (the use of electricity even when turned off or in standby mode).
Turn out lights in unoccupied rooms.
Keep light fixtures clean.
Switch to energy-efficient bulbs.
Take advantage of natural day lighting.
Use motion sensors automatically turn off indoor lights when you leave a room. Motion sensors can also be used on outside lights.
Water Heating & Water Conservation:
Lower water heater temperature setting to “warm” or 120° F.
Take shorter showers and install low-flow showerheads.
Install faucet aerators.
Wash laundry in cold water.
Repair leaky faucets.
Insulate your water heater
During the summer, water the lawn before dawn, when evaporation is less likely.
Use energy-saving cycles (no-heat or air-dry) on your dishwasher.
Run the dishwasher only when it’s full, but not overloaded.
Scrape dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.
Wash clothing when you have a full load, or adjust the water setting for the appropriate load size.
Avoid purchasing bottled water. Refill a reusable bottle instead.
Ceiling Fans save Energy:
Strategically install ceiling fans in your home or business and you can save you’ll save in air conditioning energy costs in the summer. The “draft effect” from the fan will allow you to raise your thermostat setting by up to 4 degrees and still remain comfortable.
Make sure that the ceiling fans you purchase have energy efficient motors and good blade designs. Some ceiling fans have inefficient motors and bad blade designs that reduce your energy savings. Find a qualified electrician to install ceiling fans in your home or business and you will enjoy the savings —so your HVAC system.
Position a blanket-wrap insulation around your water heaters and you’ll realize additional energy savings. And if you have electric water heaters, you can install a timer to the power circuit to turn the water heater off in times when there is no usage.
For example: set the timer to turn the water heater off from 10 PM to 4 AM. Most timers can be customized and set for different times so that the water heater is turned off for most of the day and night. This, along with the insulation which will keep the water hotter longer, will save in your energy usage and cost.
Winter can dry your skin and sinuses if you don’t have a humidifier, especially in a dry climate like Colorado’s. Did you know that this condition not only affects your body but it also affects your home? Furniture, doors and other wood products are all affected by the level of humidity in your home of office.
R-410A VS R-22 Refrigerants:
R-22 has been widely used in air conditioners and heat pumps for many years. It is, however, hazardous to the environment and will begin to be phased out, by law, next year. The replacement refrigerant for R-22 is R-410A and is being produced to meet the rising demand for new air conditioner and heating pump systems.
You should understand the impact this law is having on the HVAC market because it will determine what you will pay for future repairs to your HVAC equipment. The new law states that refrigerant and HVAC equipment manufacturers must retrofit factories for the new HVAC equipment as well as supply and demand. This changeover has already begun with some apprehension.
You may ask “Does the new technology offer stability and reliability on par with the old time tested system?” and “How many resources need to go into the changeover?” These are valid questions and need to be addressed so there is a successful changeover from R-22 refrigerant to R-410A refrigerant. Technicians need to be properly trained; consumers need to understand the new technology to have confidence in it. More importantly, HVAC contractors need to have the confidence in these systems to recommend the technology to their customers.