You can control you energy usage throughout the year. Below are tips for each season to reduce your energy bill.
- Run major appliances like the dishwasher and washing machine early in the morning or late at night.
- Adjust your dishwasher so the dishes dry without heat.
- Set the thermostat to 78 degrees or higher, and use a fan to circulate the cool air. Cooling costs are typically 60 percent of your total utility bill. For every degree you set the thermostat below 78 degrees, you use two to five percent more electricity.
- Turn off ceiling fans when rooms are unoccupied. Ceiling fans are designed to work on a "wind chill" effect. If no one is in the room, it isn't cooling.
- Avoid using the stove or oven on hot days. Instead, use the microwave, grill outdoors or throw together a cold summer meal.
- Add insulation to your home. It's the most efficient way to control the amount of energy you need to keep your home cool.
- Apply weather-stripping or caulking around doors and windows so cool air can't leak outdoors.
- Clear outdoor air conditioner units and heat pumps of debris and shrubbery so they can work more efficiently.
- Change or clean your air conditioners' filter as recommended by the manufacturer. Dirty filters reduce efficiency by restricting airflow. Changing or cleaning your filter monthly can yield an additional 10 to 20 percent saving in cooling costs.
- Close drapes or blinds during the day to keep heat-producing sunlight out.
- Close the damper on your fireplace.
- Unplug unnecessary electric appliances and equipment.
- Keep exterior doors closed as much as possible.
- Turn off unnecessary lights and switch off unwatched televisions.
- Dial down the electric water heater to no more than a 120 degree setting.
- Service your air conditioner. Easy maintenance such as routinely replacing or cleaning air filters can lower your cooling system’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent. Also, the first day of spring could serve as a reminder to check your air conditioner’s evaporator coil, which should be cleaned annually to ensure the system is performing at optimal levels.
Open windows. Opening windows creates a cross-wise breeze, allowing you to naturally cool your home without switching on air conditioners. This is an ideal tactic in spring when temperatures are mild.
Use ceiling fans. Cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat four degrees. This can help lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort.
Cook outside. On warmer spring days, keep the heat out of your home by using an outdoor grill instead of indoor ovens.
Install window treatments. Energy efficient window treatments or coverings such as blinds, shades and films can slash heat gain when temperatures rise. These devices not only improve the look of your home but also reduce energy costs.
Caulk air leaks. Using low-cost caulk to seal cracks and openings in your home keeps warm air out -- and cash in your wallet.
Bring in sunlight. During daylight hours, switch off artificial lights and use windows and skylights to brighten your home.
Set the thermostat. On warm days, setting a programmable thermostat to a higher setting when you are not at home can help reduce your energy costs by approximately 10 percent.
- Seal ducts. Air loss through ducts can lead to high electricity costs, accounting for nearly 30 percent of a cooling system’s energy consumption. Sealing and insulating ducts can go a long way toward lowering your electricity bills.
- Switch on bathroom fans. Bathroom fans suck out heat and humidity from your home, improving comfort.
Take Advantage of Heat from the Sun
- Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
Cover Drafty Windows
- Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
- Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
- Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.
Adjust the Temperature
- When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
- When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A smart or programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
- If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.
Find and Seal Leaks
- Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes ("plumbing penetrations"), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
- Find out how to detect air leaks.
- Learn more about air sealing new and existing homes.
- Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
- Find out how to select and apply the appropriate caulk and weatherstripping.
Maintain Your Heating Systems
- Schedule service for your heating system.
- Furnaces and heat pumps: Replace your filter once a month or as needed. Find out more about maintaining furnaces or boilers and heat pumps.
- Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters: Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently. Find other maintenance recommendations for wood- and pellet-burning appliances.
Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplace
- Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
- When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly--approximately 1 inch--and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
- If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
- If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
- Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
- Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
- Add caulking around the fireplace hearth. Find out more techniques to improve your fireplace or wood-burning appliance's efficiency. Learn tips for safe and efficient fireplace installation and wood burning.
Lower Your Water Heating Costs
- Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands. Find other strategies for energy-efficient water heating.
Lower Your Holiday Lighting Costs
- Use light-emitting diode -- or "LED" -- holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays. Learn about the advantages and potential cost savings of LED holiday light strings. Find manufacturers and brands of ENERGY STAR® certified decorative light strings.