Energy Savers provides homeowners with tips for saving money and energy at home and on the road. By following just a few of the simple tips here in the Energy Savers guide section of the website, you can make your home more comfortable and easier to heat and cool -- while you save money. We bring you the latest information on energy-saving, efficient technologies. We even give tips for using clean, renewable energy to power your home.
Right in your own home, you have the power to save money and energy. Saving energy reduces our nation's overall demand for resources needed to make energy, and increasing your energy efficiency is like adding another clean energy source to our electric power grid.
This guide shows you how easy it is to cut your energy use at home and also on the road. The easy, practical solutions for saving energy include tips you can use today -- from the roof and landscaping to appliances and lights. They are good for your wallet and for the environment -- and actions that you take help reduce our national needs to produce or import more energy, thereby improving our energy security.
Some of the tips are simple to do. Others require more effort and investment, but promise big savings over the years.
We encourage you to check out the tips and make improvements that will contribute to your energy bottom line and make our planet healthier and cleaner!
SAVE ENERGY AND MONEY TODAY
An energy-efficient home will keep your family comfortable while saving you money. Whether you take simple steps or make larger investments to make your home more efficient, you'll see lower energy bills. Over time, those savings will typically pay for the cost of improvements and put money back in your pocket. Your home may also be more attractive to buyers when you sell.
The 113 million residences in America today collectively use an estimated 22% of the country's energy. Unfortunately, a lot of energy is wasted through leaky windows or ducts, old appliances, or inefficient heating and cooling systems. When we waste energy in our homes, we are throwing away money that could be used for other things. The typical U.S. family spends at least $2,000 a year on home utility bills. You can lower this amount by up to 25% through following the Long Term Savings Tips in this guide.
The key to these savings is to take a whole-house approach -- by viewing your home as an energy system with interdependent parts. For example, your heating system is not just a furnace -- it's a heat-delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers heat throughout your home using a network of ducts. Even a top-of-the-line, energy-efficient furnace will waste a lot of fuel if the ducts, walls, attic, windows, and doors are leaky or poorly insulated. Taking a whole-house approach to saving energy ensures that dollars you invest to save energy are spent wisely.
TIPS TO SAVE ENERGY TODAY
Easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy.
·Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills and manage your heating and cooling systems efficiently.
·Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
·Turn things off when you are not in the room such as lights, TVs, entertainment systems, and your computer and monitor.
·Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use -- TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.
·Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F.
·Take short showers instead of baths and use low-flow showerheads for additional energy savings.
·Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
·Air dry clothes.
·Check to see that windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home.
·Drive sensibly; aggressive driving such as speeding, and rapid acceleration and braking, wastes fuel.
·Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on light bulbs, home appliances, electronics, and other products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Visit the following sections to learn more:
·Tips for Renters and Property Owners
·Your Home's Energy Use
·Heating and Cooling
·Cool and Green Roofs
·Home Office and Electronics
Download the Energy Savers guide.
Download the Spanish version of the Energy Savers guide.
If you're trying to decide whether to invest in a more energy-efficient appliance or you'd like to determine your electricity loads, you may want to estimate appliance energy consumption.
FORMULA FOR ESTIMATING ENERGY CONSUMPTION
Use this formula to estimate an appliance's energy use:
(Wattage × Hours Used Per Day) ÷ 1000 = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption
1 kilowatt (kW) = 1,000 Watts
Multiply this by the number of days you use the appliance during the year for the annual consumption in kWh per year.
ESTIMATING ANNUAL COST TO RUN AN APPLIANCE
Multiply the annual consumption in kWh per year (that you calculated above) by your local utility's rate per kWh consumed to calculate the annual cost to run an appliance. Note: To estimate the number of hours that a refrigerator actually operates at its maximum wattage, divide the total time the refrigerator is plugged in by three. Refrigerators, although turned "on" all the time, actually cycle on and off as needed to maintain interior temperatures.
(200 Watts × 4 hours/day × 120 days/year) ÷ 1000
= 96 kWh × 11 cents/kWh
Personal Computer and Monitor:
[(120 Watts + 150 Watts) × 4 hours/day × 365 days/year] ÷ 1000
= 394 kWh × 11 cents/kWh
You can usually find the wattage of most appliances stamped on the bottom or back of the appliance, or on its nameplate. The wattage listed is the maximum power drawn by the appliance. Since many appliances have a range of settings (for example, the volume on a radio), the actual amount of power consumed depends on the setting used at any one time.
If the wattage is not listed on the appliance, you can still estimate it by finding the current draw (in amperes) and multiplying that by the voltage used by the appliance. Most appliances in the United States use 120 volts. Larger appliances, such as clothes dryers and electric cooktops, use 240 volts. The amperes might be stamped on the unit in place of the wattage. If not, find a clamp-on ammeter -- an electrician's tool that clamps around one of the two wires on the appliance -- to measure the current flowing through it. You can obtain this type of ammeter in stores that sell electrical and electronic equipment. Take a reading while the device is running; this is the actual amount of current being used at that instant.
When measuring the current drawn by a motor, note that the meter will show about three times more current in the first second that the motor starts than when it is running smoothly.
Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of stand-by 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. Most phantom loads will increase the appliance's energy consumption a few watt-hours. These loads can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
TYPICAL WATTAGE OF VARIOUS APPLIANCES
Here are some examples of the range of nameplate wattage for various household appliances:
·Aquarium = 50–1210 Watts
·Clock radio = 10
·Coffee maker = 900–1200
·Clothes washer = 350–500
·Clothes dryer = 1800–5000
·Dishwasher = 1200–2400 (using the drying feature greatly increases energy consumption)
·Dehumidifier = 785
·Electric blanket (Single/Double) = 60 / 100
Ceiling = 65–175
Window = 55–250
Furnace = 750
Whole house = 240–750
·Hair dryer = 1200–1875
·Heater (portable) = 750–1500
·Clothes iron = 1000–1800
·Microwave oven = 750–1100
CPU - awake / asleep = 120 / 30 or less
Monitor - awake / asleep = 150 / 30 or less
Laptop = 50
·Radio (stereo) = 70–400
·Refrigerator (frost-free, 16 cubic feet) = 725
19" = 65–110
27" = 113
36" = 133
53" - 61" Projection = 170
Flat screen = 120
·Toaster = 800–1400
·Toaster oven = 1225
·VCR/DVD = 17–21 / 20–25
·Vacuum cleaner = 1000–1440
·Water heater (40 gallon) = 4500–5500
·Water pump (deep well) = 250–1100
·Water bed (with heater, no cover) = 120–380
·Tips: Kitchen Appliances
·Tips: Smart Appliances
·Tips: Shopping for Appliances
·Tips: Home Office and Electronics
·Energy-Efficient Computer Use
Use the equation below to estimate the cost effectiveness of adding insulation in terms of the "years to payback" for savings in heating costs. Years to payback is the time required for the insulation to save enough fuel from heating (at present prices) to pay for itself. A simple payback is the initial investment divided by annual savings after taxes.
The equation works only for uniform sections of the home. For example, you can estimate years to payback for a wall or several walls that have the same R-values, if you add the same amount of insulation everywhere. Ceilings, walls, or sections of walls with different R-values must be figured separately. Subtract the areas of windows and doors when estimating payback for wall insulation.
The cost of the energy source is also a key factor in determining payback. Energy prices vary widely from region to region and season to season. Other factors, such as the rate of production and inventories of fuels nationwide, can also affect local energy prices. The weather from year to year also varies, so your energy costs from year to year will vary as well. To figure the cost of energy, consult your local utility for a rate schedule, or save your energy bills and plug your specific costs into this formula:
Years to Payback = (C(i) × R(1) × R(2) × E) ÷ (C(e) × [R(2) - R(1)] × HDD × 24)
To calculate the payback, you must supply the following information:
C(i) = Cost of insulation in $/square feet. Collect insulation cost information; include labor, equipment, and vapor barrier if needed.
C(e) = Cost of energy, expressed in $/Btu.
·To calculate the cost of energy, divide the actual price you pay per gallon of oil, kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity, gallon of propane, or therm (or per one hundred cubic feet [ccf]) of natural gas by the Btu content per unit of fuel.
·To figure the price you pay per unit, take the total amount of your bills (for oil, electricity, propane, or natural gas) during the heating season, and divide it by the total number of gallons, kWh, or therms you consumed during those months. Use the following values for fuel Btu content:
#2 Fuel Oil = 140,000 Btu/gallon
Electricity = 3,413 Btu/kWh
Propane = 91,600 Btu/gallon
Natural Gas = 103,000 Btu/ccf or
E = Efficiency of the heating system. For gas, propane, and fuel oil systems this is the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE. Typical AFUE values are 0.6 to 0.88 for oil or propane furnaces, and 0.7 to 0.95 for natural gas furnaces. Older systems are usually less efficient. Use E = 1.00 for baseboard electric systems. For heat pumps, use the Coefficient of Performance or COP for E; where E = 2.1 to 2.5 for conventional heat pumps, and E = 3.2 to 3.5 for geothermal heat pumps.
R(1) = Initial R-value of section
R(2) = Final R-value of section
R(2) - R(1) = R-value of additional insulation being considered
HDD = Heating degree days/year. This information can usually be obtained from your local weather station, utility, or oil dealer.
24 = Multiplier used to convert heating degree days to heating hours (24 hours/day).
We use HDD in our calculations because it is sufficient for homes in cold or moderate climates (which includes most of the country). For homes in hot climates, the payback calculation is more complex. To account for the full savings achievable year-round, try using a more advanced tool to calculate your energy savings such as the Home Energy Saver, created by DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Suppose that you want to know how many years it will take to recover the cost of installing additional insulation in your attic. You are planning to increase the level of insulation from R-19 (6-inch fiberglass batts with moisture barrier on the warm side) to R-30 by adding R-11 (3.5-inch unfaced fiberglass batts). You have a gas furnace with an AFUE of 0.88. You also pay $0.87/therm for natural gas. Let's also suppose that you supply the following values for the variables in the formula.
C(i) = $0.18/square foot
C(e) = ($0.87/therm)÷(100,000 Btu/therm) = $0.0000087/Btu
E = 0.88
R(1) = 19
R(2) = 30
R(2) - R(1) = 11
HDD = 7000
By plugging the numbers into the formula, you obtain the years to payback:
Years to Payback = (C(i) × R(1) × R(2) × E) ÷ (C(e) × [R(2) - R(1)] × HDD × 24)
Years to Payback = (0.18 × 19 × 30 × 0.88) ÷ ($0.0000087 × 11 × 7000 × 24)
90.288 ÷ 16.077 = 5.62 years
·Where to Insulate in a Home
·Insulation for New Home Construction
·Adding Insulation to an Existing Home
·Types of Insulation
·Insulation and Air Sealing Products and Services
Over the next few years, the A-style incandescent bulbs will gradually be phased-out as EISA efficiency standards are phased-in. The phase-out schedule begins with the 100 watt incandescents in January 2012 and ends with new standards for the 40 watt incandescent in 2014.
As you can see by the table below, there is more time than you might have thought to find a comparable replacement. The effective date for each phase listed below indicates the first date that non-compliant products are prohibited from being manufactured or imported in the United States. (California is implementing the standards one year before the rest of the country).
Typical Current Lamp Wattage
Rated Lumen Ranges
Maximum Rate Wattage
Minimum Rated Lifetime
California Effective Date
Livonia Public Schools has a free online energy-tracking tool available. The tool is a personal energy dashboard that will allow users to track the energy use in their homes or businesses. Please click here
to access the GreenQuest site.
Editor’s Note: It’s a new year, and that means new resolutions. Whether this is the first year you’re looking for ways to save energy or you want to lower your energy bills even more than last year, check out our eight strategies for saving energy. We first released these tips in 2013, and while a couple of the energy-saving numbers have changed, for a second year in a row, they remain the top eight ways you can save money at home.
At the beginning of every new year, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, which inevitably are forgotten by the end of January. This year, forget making a New Year’s resolution. Instead make a home energy efficiency resolution.
Need some ideas on resolutions to make your home more energy efficient? To get you started, I consulted with our experts in the Building Technologies Office -- who work on developing innovative, cost-effective solutions to saving energy -- to create a list of the top ways to save energy and money at home. They came up with eight strategies all homeowners should adopt to lower their energy bills no matter the time of the year or their price range. Some tips are free or low cost and can be used daily to increase your energy savings, while others require a larger investment for long-term savings. This year, resolve to try one or more of these tips for improving your home’s energy efficiency, and start seeing savings on your next energy bill.
1. Install and set a programmable thermostat. You could save an estimated 10 percent per year on heating and cooling costs by using a programmable thermostat, and by resetting it when you are asleep or away from home, you won’t have to sacrifice comfort.
2. Use sunlight to your advantage. The sun’s rays can contribute heat in the winter but force air conditioners and fans to work harder -- and use more energy -- in the summer. During winter months, you can take advantage of sunlight by opening your curtains during the day to allow the sun to naturally heat your home. During warmer months, use light-colored window shades or blinds to reflect heat back outside, keeping your home cooler and more efficient. Using natural lighting effectively will also reduce the need to use artificial light.
3. When replacing appliances or purchasing electronics, look for ENERGY STAR appliances, fans and electronics. Your home’s appliances and electronics account for close to 20 percent of your energy bills. Using ENERGY STAR® certified products -- which incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-15 percent less energy and water than standard models -- throughout your home could save nearly $750 over the lifetime of the products. For example, ENERGY STAR clothes washers use about 40 percent less energy than conventional clothes washers while reducing water bills. ENERGY STAR washers also require less detergent and are gentler on clothes, saving you money on clothing expenses.
4. Choose energy-saving lighting. About 10 percent of the energy your home uses goes to lighting costs. By just replacing five of your home's most frequently used lights with energy-efficient ENERGY STAR bulbs, you could save $75 a year in energy costs. Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs can yield as much as 75 percent energy savings and last six-times longer. You can get even more energy savings, longer life span and less wasted heat by switching to ENERGY STAR LEDs.
5. Use an electronic power strip for your electronic equipment. Many electronic devices and equipment continue to consume unnecessary energy even when not in use. Often called energy vampires, these devices cost families about $100 a year. Use a power strip for electronic devices and turn it off when not in use to eliminate energy vampires. And be sure to unplug your chargers -- they draw energy even when they aren’t connected to a device.
6. Reduce energy for water heating. Water heating is a large energy expense in your home, accounting for about 14-18 percent of your utility bills. By taking low-cost steps, you can reduce your water heating bills. Make sure your water heater is set to no higher than 120 degrees. Install low-flow showerheads or temperature-sensitive shower valves. Newer water heaters have more insulation than older ones. If your water heater is more than five years old, you should wrap a water heater jacket around it to stop heat loss from the tank.
7. Hire a professional to maintain your heating and cooling system. Arrange for annual maintenance with a qualified technician. This includes checking the airflow over the coil, testing for the correct fluid (refrigerant) level, checking the combustion process and heat exchanger are operating safely, and ensuring proper air-flow to each room. In addition, you should clean the air filters in your heating and cooling system once a month, and replace them regularly.
8. Consult a home performance contractor to achieve large savings. There is a growing industry of professionals who are qualified to make recommendations to homeowners on how to improve the overall energy efficiency of their homes. These professional energy assessors will do a comprehensive energy audit of your whole house using special tools -- such as a blower door test and an infrared camera to locate air leaks -- to measure home energy efficiency.
A professional energy audit gives you a thorough picture of where your home is losing energy and what you can do to save money. By making upgrades (especially sealing air leaks and properly insulating your home), you can expect to save 15-30 percent or more in energy costs, while also improving your home’s comfort and air quality. Visit the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR website to learn more about this approach and to locate home performance contractors near you.