Energy Efficiency Tips
The cheapest and cleanest energy is the energy you don’t use.
Improving the efficiency of your home can pay off multiple times over – and your utility offers rebates that can make efficiency even more affordable. Use the tips below to save money year round.
Your utility might offer discounts on the supplies you need. See what’s available to you with CUB’s rebate and discount tool.
- Eliminate air leaks in your home. Check the doors, windows, walls, floors, electrical outlets, roof and other places two different building materials meet or gaps could allow air to escape the home. Seal leaks with caulk or weatherstripping. This guide shows how to detect and fix leaks.
- Seal any leaks in ductwork. Use mastic or metal tape on all the ducts that you can access. (Despite the name, duct tape does not work well for this job.) A professional contractor can do this for you, or you can do it yourself.
- Properly insulate your attic.
Heating, cooling, and water
- Buy a programmable thermostat. Programming the thermostat saves a typical home $180 a year. If you have a manual thermostat, adjust the temperature before you go to bed or when you will be away from home for several hours.
- Some heat pumps have inefficient supplemental heating elements that turn on to raise the temp quickly, negating energy savings. If you have a heat pump, check the manual or talk with a professional before using this tip in the heating season.
- Close doors to rooms not in use.
- Turn down the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees, unless the manual for your dishwasher requires a higher temperature.
- Wrap your water heater tank in a jacket if it feels warm to the touch. Here’s how. This can save $20-45 a year; it costs about $30, and some utilities offer the insulation for a discount or free.
- Install CFL or LED lights: CFL bulbs use 75% less energy than the old incandescent bulbs, and LEDs use 85% less energy — and a single LED bulb can last 22 years, so it pays off to spend a bit more upfront. When buying LEDs, look for the ENERGY STAR certification to make sure you’re getting a quality product.
- Halogen lamps might be cheap to purchase, but halogen bulbs give off a lot of heat, which means they waste a lot of energy (and money). Consider lamps that take fluorescent or LED bulbs instead.
- Timers or motion sensors can save energy on outdoor floodlights or other light that stay on when you’re not at home.
- LED lights can save you a significant amount of money over the life of the bulb. Download CUB’s lighting calculator to find out the potential savings in your home.
- Choose the most efficient ENERGY STAR options when you replace your home appliances, electronics, and other products; it can save you 15-30%.
- Run the washing machine, the dryer, and the dishwasher only when they’re fully loaded. Turn of the dishwasher’s heated dry cycle.
- Clean the coils on the back of the refrigerator, and make sure the doors seal tightly. (Close the door on a piece of paper. You should feel tension when you pull it out.)
- Unplug the TV, computer, phone charger, and other electronics when they’re not in use, or buy an advanced power strip that cuts off the power automatically when not in use. Many electronics continue to draw power even when they’re not being used. This “vampire load” adds up to $200 per year in an average home.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out our seasonal energy efficiency tips.
To learn about energy efficiency measures specific to your home, consider a home energy audit.