Energy & Money Saving Tips

Click on the links or scroll down for no cost and low cost energy saving tips:

Heating & Insulation Tips

No Cost

  • Turn Down the Thermostat—Consider turning down your thermostat to 55 degrees when the house is unoccupied. At night when you are sleeping, consider turning your thermostat down to 60 degrees. It is a common myth that it takes more energy to re-heat a home that has been set to a lower temperature than it does to keep the heat at a constant level. The more you turn down the heat when you don’t need it, the more you will save.
  • Adjust Window Treatments—During the day, let sunlight in by opening curtains, blinds and shades on the windows facing the sun to keep your home warm and reduce heating needs. At night or when the sky is overcast, keep drapes and curtains closed to keep heat indoors.
  • Learn how weatherization could make a difference in your home. Answer a few quick questions(PDF) or calculate your home’s energy efficiency here.

Low Cost

  • Seal Leaks—Most Maine homes are too drafty. Seal any leaks in your heating or cooling system ducts. Sealing holes in attics, basements and around chimneys can make a huge difference in energy use and comfort and can help you save as much as 20% of heating/cooling costs.
  • Caulk & Weather-strip—By sealing air leaks around windows, doors, pipes and ducts you can reduce drafts and energy costs.
  • Install Window Films—Use window-insulator kits to cover windows with clear plastic sheets to stop drafts and reduce energy costs.
  • Seal Off Receptacles—Seal off electric receptacles and switch boxes with foam gaskets.
  • Insulate Pipes—Insulate hot water pipes that provide heat to the rooms in your home. This will reduce heat loss in uninsulated areas and will help your heating system work more efficiently.
  • Clean Boilers & Furnaces—Make sure your boiler or furnace is cleaned and serviced annually by qualified personnel for optimum efficiency. Cleaning substantially extends the life of your heating system while ensuring that it’s operating safely.

Good Investment

  • Insulate:
    • Insulate attic access and basement bulkhead doors.
    • Cut your heating costs up to 25% with proper insulation. Insulate ceilings, walls, floors and heating ducts. This insulation will not only keep heat from escaping, but will also make your home more comfortable.

Energy Saving Tips for Cooling

thermostatNo Cost

  • Save on cooling costs when you raise your thermostat, even one or two degrees, in the summer.
  • Do not let the air conditioner bake in the sun. Room air conditioners work best when kept out of direct sunlight. Install them near shade trees or on the north side of the house if possible.
  • Seal gaps along the sides of your air conditioner to keep the outside air from seeping in.
  • Clean air conditioner filters regularly, keep the front and back of air conditioners unobstructed.
  • In warmer weather, delay heat-producing tasks, such as dish washing, baking, or doing laundry, until the cooler evening hours.
  • Use an exhaust fan to blow hot air out of your kitchen while cooking. The reduction in your cooling costs far outweighs the cost of using a fan.
  • Instead of an air conditioner, open windows on opposite sides of the house for cross-ventilation.
  • Use fans in your windows to draw in cooler night air. Close the windows during the day to keep the cooler air in.
  • Close window blinds or drapes during the daytime summer hours. Sunlight shining in windows usually adds the largest amount of unwanted summertime heat. During the hottest weather, keep windows closed to keep hot air from blowing into your home. In the evening and early in the morning, open windows to allow cooler air in.

Low Cost

  • Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs). Standard incandescent light bulbs lose 90% of their energy as heat. CFLs produce only a fraction of the heat and do not waste electricity.

Good Investment

  • If you are going to buy a room air conditioner, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR® room air conditioners exceed minimum federal standards for energy consumption by at least 10%.
  • Plant shade trees to block heat from your windows and roof.

Energy Saving Appliance Tips

Cooking Appliances

No Cost

  • Use the smallest burner necessary to do the job. Match your pan size to the burner size. For example, a 6″ pan on an 8″ burner can waste over 40% of the heat produced by the burner.
  • While cooking, avoid “peeking” by opening the oven door. Each “peek” can lower the oven temperature.
  • Cook several dishes simultaneously in the oven.
  • Consider using a microwave instead of a conventional oven whenever possible.

Refrigerators & Freezers

No Cost

  • Reduce your annual energy bill by as much as $100 by unplugging and properly disposing of your unneeded refrigerators or freezers.
  • Open refrigerator/freezer doors only when necessary.
  • Keep refrigerator coils (on the back or the bottom of the appliance) clean.
  • Make sure the seals on your refrigerator, freezer and oven doors fit tightly. Easily perform this test by leaving a lit flashlight inside a closed appliance and if you see light around the gasket, replace the gasket.
  • Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are not running too cold. The temperature in your refrigerator should be at 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit, and the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Clothes Washers & Dryers

No Cost

  • Use lower temperature settings on your washing machine, preferably the cold water cycle, and only use cold for rinses. The temperature of the rinse water does not affect cleaning.
  • Load the washing machine to capacity. Washing one large load will take less energy than washing two loads on a low or medium setting. When you don’t have a full load, match the water level to the size of the load.
  • Dry full loads when possible, but be careful not to overfill the dryer, because air needs to circulate around the clothes.
  • Don’t over-dry clothes that you are going to iron. Take clothes out of the dryer while they are still slightly damp to reduce the need for ironing—another big energy user.
  • If you have room, you can also hang your clothes out to dry.
  • Clean the dryer filter after each use. A clogged filter will restrict airflow and reduce dryer performance.

Dishwashers

No Cost

  • Operate your dishwasher at full capacity. And if the manufacturer’s instructions permit, open the door of the dishwasher at the end of the last rinse cycle, rather than using the drying cycle.
  • Choose a dishwasher with several wash cycle selections. If your dishes are only slightly dirty, you can use the light or energy-saving wash cycle, it uses less water and runs for a shorter period of time.
  • Choose the right size for your needs. Standard capacity models hold more than eight place settings and six serving pieces. Compact capacity models hold eight place settings and six serving pieces or less. If you have to operate a compact model more frequently, you may actually use more energy than you would with a standard model over time.

Water Heaters

No Cost

  • Set your water heater thermostat at the lowest temperature that provides you with sufficient hot water. If you use a lot of hot water, you may need to set the temperature higher to provide enough hot water for your needs.
  • Wrap your water heater with a water heater blanket, especially if it’s in an unheated area of your home.

General Appliance Tips

No Cost

  • Borrow an electricity monitor from your local library to determine which appliances in your home may be wasting energy. Click here to learn more.

Good Investment

  • Select products with the ENERGY STAR® label when buying new appliances for your home. You could save 5-25% in operating costs.

Lighting Tips

No Cost

  • Keep bulbs and fixtures clean—dirt will block the light and reduce the efficiency.
  • Turn off lights whenever they are not needed.

Low Cost

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) which can give the same amount and quality of light as incandescent bulbs. CFLs use 75% less energy (saving up to $100/year per home) and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs.

Good Investment

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when purchasing lighting fixtures. These fixtures meet federal energy-efficiency and quality guidelines, without a sacrifice in performance. These lights also operate at cooler temperatures.
  • Replace halogen floor lamps and torchieres with compact fluorescent models. Halogen floor lamps pose a fire hazard due to the extremely hot temperatures produced by the high-wattage bulbs and cost more to operate. An energy-efficient compact fluorescent model produces as much light, runs cooler, and uses only a fraction of the electricity.
  • Use motion detectors outdoors. Lights turn only when someone is walking near the house. This will save energy while providing security.

Other Energy Savings Tips

No Cost

  • Reduce Phantom Load— Many appliances continue to draw power when they are switched off. These “phantom” loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. Borrow an electricity monitor from your local library to determine which appliances in your home are contributing to phantom load. Unplug the appliances that cause phantom load.

Low Cost

  • Install energy-saving shower heads in your home. Select a model with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute.
  • Repair all leaky faucets. One drop per second can waste up to 1,661 gallons of water over the course of a year.

Good Investment

  • Minimize phantom load by plugging devices into a power strip and switching it off when the devices are not in use. If it’s not convenient to use a regular power strip, try a Smart power strip for entertainment centers and computers. They won’t avoid the phantom load of the TV or computer, but they’ll automatically stop the phantom load to the accessories (DVR, DVD, VCR, printer, display, speaker, etc).