GREEN Energy Saving Tips

Space heating/cooling

o          To reduce your energy use, set your thermostat comfortably low in the winter and comfortably high in the summer. Try heating to 68 degrees F or less during the day and 60 degrees F when you’re away or sleeping. You’ll save approximately 1% for every degree of night setback. Night set-back is also worth while with boilers (hot water heat) provided you remember to set it to turn it on in enough time to heat before you get up in the morning. Summer time cooling season set temperature should be set no lower than 78 degrees and should be turned off at night. Open the windows if it is cooler outside.

o          Avoid changing thermostat settings too frequently, as this increases heating and cooling costs in winter and summer.

o          Move furniture and draperies away from radiators, vents, and registers.

o          If a room is not in use, don’t heat or cool it more than necessary. However it is not a good idea to shut the doors to more than one quarter of the area of the home that you are conditioning with heating/cooling.

o          Cool a home the natural way. Help cool air to come in. Open windows when the temperature is comfortable. Keep the sun’s heat out by adjusting shades, blinds, draperies or awnings. Let hot air out. Hot air rises, open the upper part of double hung windows. Let breezes in by removing any blockages to the windows. Electric fans can be a big help. Energy efficient ceiling fans are much less expensive to use than air conditioning.

o          Let the sun in to help heat your home in the cold weather. Pull up the shades or open the draperies to the sun to let in those warm rays.

o          Keep electric baseboards and hot water radiators clean for proper air flow.

o         Keep furniture and draperies away from electric baseboards and hot water radiators for proper air flow.

o          To improve the efficiency of some hot water radiators, bleed the air from your radiators once or twice a year. Hold a bucket under the valve. Turn the valve or key on each radiator until water comes out in a stream with out spurting.  Remember the water is very hot. Shut the valve tightly upon completion.


Air leakage

o          Close storm windows. Once you have sealed air leaks around your windows, you can double their insulating value by closing storm windows. That additional layer of glass or plastic creates a dead air space, and trapped air is an excellent insulator. Plastic film window kits are the lowest–cost option if you don’t have storms. The kit is fairly easily installed on the inside or outside of your existing windows. Be sure the air space is at least 1 / 2 inch and not more than 4 inches.

o          Align doors so they fit squarely in their jambs to keep air leaks to a minimum.

o          Don’t let air leak through the fireplace. Close the flue damper of the fireplace when it is not in use. If you don’t use your fireplace much and the damper doesn’t close, seal the opening with cardboard and tape. Another low–cost option is to plug the chimney with a plastic bag full of crumpled newspaper or insulation. Be sure to post a highly visible reminder to remove the bag before building a fire.

o          Keep your body comfortably warm or cool. Dress cool in hot weather (natural fibers are cooler) and keep the air moving. Dress warm in cold warm weather (each layer of clothing will raise your body temperature 5 degrees) and avoid drafts.


Lighting and electric equipment

o          Turn off lights when you are not using them.

o          Dust light bulbs and fixtures to improve light output.

o          Don’t use more light than you need. Focus the light on where it is needed most.

o          Activate “sleep” features on computers and office equipment that power down when not in use for a while. Turn off your computer and monitor during longer periods of non-use to cut energy costs and improve longevity.

o          Use a microwave oven instead of a conventional range or oven.

o          Plug in home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn power strips off when the equipment is not in use. (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.)


Water Heaters

o          Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 degrees F. Your hot water is probably hotter than necessary. Most heaters are set at 140 degrees F, and this high a setting is only needed if you have a dishwasher without a booster heater. Turn the temperature down to 120 degrees F (medium setting on a gas heater dial), and you’ll cut your water–heating costs by 6 to 10 percent. Electric water heaters have both an upper and a lower thermostat to adjust. Be sure to first turn the electricity off at the circuit breaker before adjusting the thermostat.

o          Don’t let the hot water tap run unnecessarily while you shave, brush your teeth, or rinse dishes. Soak pots and pans before scraping them clean.

o          Take short showers instead of baths.

o          Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Water heating accounts for 90 percent of the energy used by washing machines. Washing in hot water costs 20 to 40 cents per load. That adds up, and it’s not necessary, except for special loads such as diapers or stained work clothes. Try washing in cold water using cold water detergents, and wash full loads whenever possible. And on nice sunny days, use the clothesline instead of the dryer.

o          Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.

o          Shift energy-intensive tasks such as laundry and dish washing to off-peak energy demand hours to increase electricity reliability during heat waves.

o          Forget that brick in your toilet tank. That can damage the tank. Instead, place a plastic bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to save some 11 gallons of water daily.


Cooking

o          Be sure your range is turned off immediately after use. Establish the habit of turning off the range before removing the cooking utensils.

o          The electric surface units can be shut off shortly before the food is done. The food will continue to cook from the stored heat energy that remains immediately after you turned it off.

o          Reflector pans beneath the stove top heating elements should be kept bright and clean to reflect the heat back up to the pot. Shiny pans help focus heat rays on the utensil bottoms whereas dull or soiled drip pans absorb the heat wastefully and reduce the efficiency of the burner.

o          Use pots and pans that are about the same size or a little bigger than the heating element. A pot that is 2 inches smaller will waste about 40% of the heat.

o          Use the smallest pots and pans you can for the cooking task at hand.

o          Use pots and pans with flat bottoms, straight sides and tightly fitting lids, so less energy escapes and lower heat settings can be used.

o          When heating or boiling a large quantity of water, start with hot tap water where a major part of heating has already been done at a more efficient rate.

o          Broiled meats cook faster, saving energy.

o          Oven cooking is more economical than cooking on the stove top surface. Ovens require energy only periodically since the insulation holds in the heat. Most cook tops consume energy the entire time they are in operation.

o          Cook outdoors or prepare cold meals to avoid excess heat in the kitchen. However, this can add more green house gases than one would want. An alternative is to eat cold meals on hot days.

o          Use a microwave or small appliances, such as a toaster oven or electric frying pan whenever possible. They are more energy efficient than conventional ovens and use about half of the electricity of a full-size oven.

o          Preheat your oven only when necessary, usually only when leavening is used such as in cakes or breads.

o          Avoid opening the oven to check on food. Each time you open the oven door, the baking temperature drops 25 – 50 degrees.

o          Refrigerators cost $5 to $8 per month to operate and consume 3 to 5 percent of your home’s total energy use. To keep out warm room air, keep the door closed as much as possible. It will use much less energy if you regularly clean the dust out of the coils at the back of the unit. Keep the refrigerator at 36 to 38 degrees F and the freezer at 0 to 5 degrees F. If you have more than one refrigerator or freezer and one doesn’t get much use, unplug it and save.

o          Keep your refrigerator and freezer full, but place items slightly apart to allow air to circulate effectively.

o          Always cover foods or liquids in the refrigerator. This will keep the food from drying out, and it will save the unit from having to work harder to remove excess moisture.

o          Use the refrigerator to thaw frozen food, rather than the microwave oven. You will save on both microwave heating and refrigerator cooling costs.

o          Allow hot foods to cool slightly before placing them in the refrigerator or freezer.


Water conservation

o          Recycling isn’t just for trash. Don’t let water go just down the drain. Collect rainwater, water used to wash fruits and vegetables, and water from cleaning your fish tank, and reuse it to water plants. Connect gutter downspouts to rain-barrels, or direct them to trees or plants.

o          Use a broom or sweeper instead of water from a hose to clean the garage, driveway, or sidewalk.

o          Let the grass grow. Mow less often, as longer grass reduces water loss from evaporation.

o          Use a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation. Plant during spring or fall when watering requirements are lower. Water earlier or later in the day when temperatures are lower. Choose lower maintenance plants.

o          Adjust sprinklers to water lawns and plants, not pavement or people.

o          Use a hose with a shut-off nozzle while you water your plants or wash your car. Turn it off at the faucet when you’re through. Better yet, use a bucket of water and a sponge to wash your car.

o          Look for EnergyStar labels on home appliances and products. EnergyStar products meet strict efficiency specifications set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.


Space heating equipment, airflows, and air leakage

o          Every other year get the burners on furnaces, boilers and space heaters Tuned and cleaned.

o          Install a programmable thermostat that is compatible with your heating system.

o          Regularly clean or replace your furnace filter. All forced air furnaces have filters that keep dust and dirt from blowing into your house. If not periodically cleaned or replaced, dirty filters can greatly affect the heating ability of the furnace and waste valuable fuel. Some filters are disposable; some can be washed and reused. Do not reuse disposable filters. New ones can often be purchased for less than a dollar. Each month of the heating season, clean or replace your furnace filter(s). If you have family members with allergies you may want to consider filers that have special anti-allergen components.

o          Adjust heating and cooling systems to work more efficiently.

o          Make sure the ductwork that carries air is not leaking. Duct tape works well on lots of things, but it often fails when -used on dusty ductwork! Use self adhesive fiberglass drywall tape and mastic (a gooey substance applied with a paintbrush) to seal all exposed ductwork joints in areas such as the attics, crawlspaces, or basements. Insulate ducts in unconditioned attics to improve your heating system’s efficiency and your own comfort. If you have any questions about how your ductwork works, call us at 414-443-1859.

o          Use R-6 or higher fiberglass insulation to wrap ducts in unconditioned spaces.

o          Make sure the air flowing through the ductwork system is balanced.

o          Check and/or clean the A-coil during regular Tune and Clean maintenance or as necessary.

o          Lubricate and oil annually all furnace blower motors that this is required. Also, clean the blower blades so that air flows more freely through it.

o          Insulate hot water or steam pipes of radiators that run through unheated spaces.

o          Place a sheet of aluminum foil or other non-flammable reflective material behind electric baseboards and hot water radiators; this will help to reflect heat back into the room.

o          Plug air leaks. On a cold, windy day, do you feel the breezes blowing through your house—especially near trouble spots such as wall outlets, windows, doors and fireplaces? As the cold comes in, your heat (and your money) flies away. You can stop this heat loss quickly and easily with low–cost materials. On windows, use clear weatherstrip tape along the gap where the glass meets the frame and to seal any cracks. On double-hung windows, tape over the pulley hole and use rope caulk between the upper and lower windows. To stop leakage under exterior doors, roll up towels to block the breeze or buy an inexpensive door sweep. If the door leaks around the entire frame, install foam weatherstripping with adhesive backing between the door and the frame. Use caulk to seal along the basement sill plate and around door and window frames. Also seal little holes around water pipes and stuff insulation into big holes around plumbing fixtures. Heat leaks out of light switches and electrical outlets, too. Inexpensive foam gaskets that fit behind the cover plates easily solve this problem. For every hole you plug there will be fewer drafts, a cozier home and lower heating bills. Should you not solve uneven heating and cooling by plugging air leaks like this, save your money to hire a professional air sealing company. Give us a call at 414-443-1859 to help with this. We specialize in solving discomfort conditions that both work and don’t cause your house to misbehave in other ways.


Lighting

o          Install dimmer switch for your incandescent lights.

o          Use compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs. Replace standard incandescent bulbs (40, 60, 100 & 150 watts) with energy saving (34, 52, 90 & 135 watts) compact fluorescent bulbs, without compromising brightness. Energy efficient compact fluorescents fit most standard light fixtures, last 10 times longer than incandescent, and save 70 % on energy use. To maximize savings, use in fixtures that are in use for three hours or more per day. (These lights will last for years, but when they do finally wear out, don’t throw them away with your regular garbage, because they may contain small amounts of mercury. Some communities sponsor household hazardous waste collection days to ensure the proper recycling or disposal of items like these. Contact your city’s public works department to find out about options in your area. If you accidentally break a fluorescent bulb, use a wet rag to collect the broken pieces and then place everything in a sealed container for disposal. Avoid inhaling the mercury during the clean-up process.) LEDs are the wave of the future in lighting at this time. They also have very long life expectancy. I have found LEDs particularly effective while installing new or replacing existing recessed can lights. All recessed lights should be performance tested per ASTM 783. No greater than 2 cfm of air leakage under 1.52 PSI.

o          Consider safer, more efficient ENERGY STAR touchier lamps rather than halogen torchieres, which can cause fires. Halogen bulbs are also expensive to use.


Water heater and water conservation

o          Replace washers on faucets that leak. Fix those drippy, leaky faucets around the house. Same with leaky toilets. Small leaks add up. A leaky toilet can waste up to 52,800 gallons a year. Replace old faucet aerators. Newer models use less water and provide more water pressure. Consider water-saving faucet attachments. Also check for leaks in pipes, hoses, and couplings.

o          Replace your shower head. A standard showerhead sprays you with up to 8 gallons per minute of hot, steaming water. Replacing it with a quality low–flow showerhead will allow you to use only 1 to 2 gallons of water—and you’ll hardly notice a difference—except on your utility bill! Low–flow showerheads cost between $10 and $20 and pay for themselves in about four months by reducing water consumption and energy used to heat the water

o          Insulate the hot water pipes with approved insulation materials.

o          Insulate your water heater. To keep your coffee hot, you put it in a thermos or an insulated cup. That same common–sense approach works for your water heater, too. Wrapping the tank in a blanket of fiberglass insulation will reduce heat loss by 25 to 45 percent. This means a savings of 4 to 9 percent on your water–heating bill. Water heater jacket kits are available for $10 to $20 at your local hardware store or through your utility. Be sure to follow the installation directions. It’s especially important not to block air flow to flues and air intakes on gas models, and thermostat access panels on electric heaters with insulation. Insulation wraps and jackets are appropriate for older water heaters and those located in unheated areas. Be sure to allow the TPV valve to freely operate. The manufacturer may not recommend an insulation wrap for newer water heaters.