With The Increase In Cost Of Utilities How Can I Conserve My Energy Use?



(First in a two-part series)

Energy costs are increasing dramatically. The average family can expect to see a 29 percent increase in utility bills this winter. Did you know that the energy being generated for use in the home also increases air pollution? Here are a few inexpensive energy-efficient measures, you can use to reduce your energy bills by 10 to 50 percent and at the same time save energy and reduce air pollution.

Control Indoor Temperatures: You can save as much as 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10-15 percent for eight hours every day. Reduce daytime home heating temperatures in winter to 68 degrees F or lower.

Many of the following tips lead to energy efficiency in summer as well as in winter.

* When you leave the house for more than four hours set the thermostat back to 60 degrees.
* When you go on vacation, set the thermostat back to 55 degrees.
* Reduce nighttime temperature 5 to 8 degrees or more.
* During the day, open draperies and roll up shades on windows that face south, east, and west to receive direct heat from the sun in winter.
* Place furniture so that it does not block heat registers or outlets.

Control Air Leaks: Energy lost through air leaks can be decreased.

* Caulk cracks around doors, windows, foundation, and the fireplace.
* Close door of attached garage in winter.
* Close the flue when fireplace is not in use.
* Weatherstrip doors and windows.
* Lock your windows so they seal tighter.
* Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans only when necessary.
* Seal unused doors and rooms.
* Insulate ceilings, walls, floors and basement walls adequately.
* Install storm windows and doors.
* Use plastic tightly sealed to the inside of window frames.
* Select a heating system properly sized for house.
* Seal leaks in ductwork.
* Insulated all ducts in exposed areas.
* Maintain heating and cooling equipment in good operating condition.
* Keep air filters clean to make it easier for forced air systems to operate.
* Arrange with heating/cooling dealer for yearly maintenance.

Manage Your Equipment Wisely

* Reduce the amount of hot water used.
* Insulate hot water pipes.
* Maintain a setting of 110-120 degrees F on water heater thermostat. Refer to your owner's manual for proper setting. If in doubt, test the temperature of water coming from the tap. Note: If your dishwasher does not have a booster heating element, keep water heater temperature at 140 degrees F.
* Repair leaky faucets, especially hot water leaks.


* Use as much natural light as possible.
* Use fluorescent lights whenever possible as they are more efficient than incandescent lights.
* Turn off unnecessary lights, indoors and out.
* Reduce lighting levels to minimum for tasks to be performed.
* Use bulbs with lower wattage in halls, stairways and other areas of general illumination.
* Use light colors in decorating to improve lighting efficiency.
* Do tasks that require high light levels during daylight hours when possible. Keep lighting fixtures clean.
* Use timers to turn lights on in the evening rather than leave lights on all day when no one is home.
* Install dimmer switches wherever possible.

Posted on 18 Jan 2001

Leona Hawks
Extension Housing Specialist



(Second in a two-part series)

Here are more inexpensive, energy-efficient measures you can use around your home to reduce your energy bills by 10 to 50 percent and at the same time save energy and reduce air pollution.


* Turn off the dishwasher during the drying cycle and allow dishes to air dry.
* Don't run hot water continuously while washing or rinsing dishes by hand.


* Wash only full loads of laundry.
* Use water no hotter than necessary for adequate soil removal and sanitation.
* Use cold water for rinsing clothes.
* Use good laundry techniques to obtain satisfactory results in one washing process.
* Avoid over-drying in the dryer.
* Vent the dryer to the outside.
* When using the dryer, use the automatic setting that determines when clothes are dry and shuts off the dryer.
* Line dry garment and household items when practical.
* Use the dryer efficiently. Avoid drying one or two items at one time. Dry consecutive loads.
* Remove items when dryer stops to avoid unnecessary wrinkling which requires pressing.
* Clean the lint filter after each load. Minimize ironing by choosing garments with easy care requirements.

Cooking and Baking

* Never use the oven or cook top as a room heater.
* Use oven to capacity. Cook more than one dish or one meal at a time.
* Use a cooking utensil that fits the electric unit or gas burner.
* Use tight-fitting lids on cooking utensils when appropriate.
* Reduce heat to lowest setting possible to maintain necessary cooking temperature when using surface units or burner.
* Use small appliances for cooking, baking and toasting. They are often more efficient than the range for small amounts.
* Preheat oven only when necessary. Do not preheat longer than needed to attain required temperature.
* When cooking with electricity, turn off the oven, surface units or burners shortly before food has completed cooking.
* Do not be an "oven peeper." Each time you open the oven door, you lose heat.
* Locate cooling appliances away from a heat source such as the range, hot air register or direct sunlight.

Refrigeration-Refrigerator and Freezer

* Avoid opening door or holding it open unnecessarily.
* Vacuum grills and evaporator coils to keep clean.
* If cold air is leaking around door, have door adjusted or gasket replaced.

Recreation and Entertainment

* Turn off the TV, radio or stereo when no one is really watching or listening.
* Disconnect an instant-on TV when you are not going to be using it regularly.
* Spend vacations closer to home.
* Use shop or hobby equipment efficiently.

Personal Care

* Don't let the water run unnecessarily while you shave, brush your teeth or wash your hair.
* Turn off personal care appliances after each use.

Posted on 25 Jan 2001

Leona Hawks
Extension Housing Specialist

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