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Energy-saving Tips

Powering the Next Energy-saving Idea

There are hundreds of ways you can save energy at home every day.

It may not seem like swapping in an LED bulb or fixing a leaky faucet will do much to reduce your energy use or protect the environment, but if every household did just a few of the tips below, we would reduce energy consumption significantly.

Check out our video resources, tips and helpful facts for easy ways to cut your energy costs, and then choose a few to try.

There are hundreds of ways you can save energy at work, too. Check out energy-saving tipsrebates and tools to help your business lower its energy costs.

Tip #1

If your home has electric baseboard heating, keep furniture and draperies away from the heaters and leave at least a three-inch clearance under the heating unit.

Tip #2

In the winter, keep curtains and blinds closed at night to keep cold air out. Open them during the day to let the sun warm the room.

Tip #3

If your home has a large, single-pane picture window, use heavy draperies during the winter to help keep out cold air.

Tip #1

Install a Wi-Fi / smart thermostat. If you set your thermostat a little lower during winter months, you’ll reduce your heating costs about 3% for each degree of adjustment. Changing the temperature from 72°F to 68°F could lower your energy bill by up to 10%.

Tip #2

Have your heating system inspected regularly. A $50-$100 annual tune-up can help reduce your heating costs by up to 5%.

Tip #3

Don’t set the thermostat higher than you actually want it. It won’t heat your home any faster, and it will keep your furnace running longer than necessary.

Tip #4

Change or clean your furnace filter once a month. Dust and dirt can quickly clog vital parts, making your furnace run harder and eventually break down.

Tip #5

Vacuum registers and vents regularly, and don’t let furniture and draperies block the airflow. Inexpensive plastic deflectors can direct air under tables and chairs.

Tip #6

If your home has a boiler system, avoid covering radiators with screens or blocking them with furniture. It’s also a good idea to add a reflecting panel behind radiators – you can purchase one at a home center or make one yourself with a plywood panel and aluminum foil.

Tip #7

Avoid using space heaters, including electric, kerosene or propane models. Not only are they expensive to operate, but they’re also very dangerous.

Tip #8

If you’ll be going on vacation, lower the thermostat to 55°F. This will save energy while preventing water pipes from freezing.

Tip #9

If you have a forced-air furnace, do NOT close heat registers in unused rooms. Your furnace is designed to heat a specific square footage of space and can’t sense a register is closed. It will continue working at the same pace. In addition, the cold air from unheated rooms can escape into the rest of the house, reducing the effectiveness of all your insulating and weatherizing.

Tip #10

If you have hardwood or tile floors, add area rugs to keep your feet warm.

Tip #1

Check insulation levels throughout your house. Measure attic insulation with a ruler and check behind switch plates for sidewall insulation. Be safe, remember to turn off circuit breakers before removing switch plate and outlet covers.

Tip #2

Never cover attic vents or recessed light fixtures with insulation. To prevent overheating and avoid the risk of fire, allow a three-inch clearance around chimneys and flue pipes.

Tip #3

If your basement is unheated, install blanket insulation in between exposed floor joists.

Tip #4

Increase your attic insulation if joists are showing.

Tip #5

Install more attic insulation. Upgrading from three inches to 12 inches, and doing proper attic sealing, can cut heating and cooling costs up to 20%.

Tip #6

While shopping for insulation, remember that R-value measures the amount of thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

Tip #7

Add pieces of batt insulation to the rim joists – the area along the top of the foundation where it meets the exterior walls.

Tip #8

Install a cover above your attic hole, or remove the hole and just use a hatch.

Tip #9

During the winter, remove window air conditioners and seal the windows with caulk and weather stripping. You might also want to cover the central air compressor with a tarp to keep it clean.

Tip #10

Install additional attic insulation at right angles to the previous layer. You don’t need to use the same type of insulation. It’s fine to use batts or blankets over loose-fill, or vice versa.

Tip #11

Have a leaky roof repaired and make sure your basement is waterproofed. Wet insulation is worthless.

Tip #12

Install exterior or interior storm windows; storm windows can reduce your heat loss through the windows by 25% to 50%, particularly if you have single pane windows.

Tip #13

When using loose-fill insulation, be sure to distribute evenly. Any inconsistencies in depth can reduce the insulating value.

Tip #14

Choose the new “no-itch” or poly-wrapped insulation products. They’re much easier to handle and safer to work with – making them worth the extra cost.

Tip #1

During the winter, remove window air conditioners and seal the windows with caulk and weather stripping. You might also want to cover the central air compressor with a tarp to keep it clean.

Tip #2

If drafts sneak in under exterior doors, replace the threshold. If that’s not practical, block the drafts with a rolled-up towel or blanket.

Tip #3

Seal the edges of unused doors and windows with rope caulk. Don’t permanently seal them shut; you might need quick ventilation or escape during an emergency.

Tip #4

Safely repair and/or apply weather stripping to air leaks in the home. Up to 25% of energy used to heat / cool homes escapes via air leaks. Areas to check include dropped ceilings, recessed lighting, attic entrances, ducts, doorframes, electrical outlets and switches, window frames and plumbing/utility access.

Tip #5

Don’t forget to weatherproof the attic access. Secure batt insulation to the back of the hatch or door and use weather stripping to seal the opening.

Tip #6

Choose the right kind of caulk for the job. Use latex or acrylic caulk inside – it’s easy to clean and more forgiving if you’re a beginner. Silicone caulk is great for outside use because it lasts longer and seals virtually any type of surface.

Tip #7

Check the exterior of your home for air leaks, especially around openings for water spigots, air conditioner hoses, dryer vents and gas pipes. Use caulk or expanding foam to seal spaces.

Tip #8

Seal doors and windows with caulk, weather stripping and plastic film. An investment of $50 in weatherproofing supplies can reduce heating costs by two to three times that much. Don’t forget the basement windows!

Tip #9

Add foam gaskets behind all outlet covers and switch plates. Use safety plugs in all unused outlets. These are prime places for outside air to leak into your home. Be safe, remember to turn off circuit breakers before removing switch plate and outlet covers.

Tip #10

Check windowpanes to see if they need new glazing. If the glass is loose, replace the putty holding the pane in place. Most types of window glazing require painting for a proper seal.

Tip #1

Check the seal on the fireplace damper by closing it and holding a piece of tissue paper inside the firebox. If drafts blow the tissue around, repair or replace the damper.

Tip #2

When the fireplace is not in use, make sure fireplace dampers are sealed tight, and keep the glass doors closed. If you never use your fireplace, plug the chimney with fiberglass insulation and seal the doors with silicone caulk.

Tip #3

When using the fireplace, lower the thermostat to 55°F. If you don’t, all the warm air from the furnace will go right up the chimney, wasting energy and money.

Tip #4

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned and inspected regularly. Burn only fully dried hardwoods to produce the most heat output.

Tip #5

If you have a chimney, add fireproof caulk where the chimney meets the wall, inside and outside.

Tip #1

Dust light fixtures/bulbs regularly. A heavy coat of dust can block up to 50% of the light output.

Tip #2

Use only a single bulb in a multi-socket fixture. Be sure to check the maximum wattage the fixture allows.

Tip #3

Learn how to read the label on the bulb to make sure you are buying the bulb you need. A basic understanding of Lumens (Brightness) and Color Temperature (Light Appearance) can help you more effectively light your home.

Tip #4

Switch to LED bulbs. LEDs use 90% less energy than typical incandescent bulbs and last 25x longer. Replacing just five bulbs can save $75 a year.

Tip #5

Use solar lights to light walkways, patios and decks. The soft light will also attract fewer annoying insects.

Tip #6

Replace an incandescent outdoor light or high-intensity floodlight with a high-pressure sodium fixture or LED bulb. The bulbs will last longer and use less energy.

Tip #7

Use light sensing LED nightlights to help you find your way through the house. LED nightlights cost pennies a year to operate and help light steps for safety.

Tip #8

Use lighting control devices like dimmers, motion detectors, occupancy sensors and timers to provide light only when you need it.

Tip #9

Keep lamps away from thermostats; the heat produced can cause your furnace to run less than needed or your air conditioner more than needed.

Tip #10

Decorate with pale colors on walls, ceilings and floors. Soft tones reflect more light, so you can use lower wattage bulbs and delay turning on lights until later in the day. Using high-gloss paint can help as well.

Tip #1

Investigate new technology carefully. Some innovations, like convection ovens or argon-filled windows, may save energy and make life more convenient; others, such as commercial-grade kitchen appliances, might be merely expensive cosmetic enhancements.

Tip #2

Always read the Energy Guide label carefully, and make sure you’re comparing “apples to apples.” Energy use can range significantly even within a single brand.

Tip #3

Look for the ENERGY STAR logo. This designation from the Environmental Protection Agency means that the appliance exceeds minimum federal energy-use standards, usually by a significant amount.

Tip #4

Remember that it pays to invest in energy efficiency. In some cases, the money you save in energy costs can pay back the purchase price in just a few years.

Tip #5

Choose the capacity that’s right for your family. Whether it’s a furnace or a refrigerator, it doesn’t pay to purchase a unit that’s too large or too small.

Tip #1

Take shorter showers; they require less hot water.

Tip #2

Take showers, not baths. A five-minute shower will use about 7.5 gallons of hot water, while filling a bathtub can use up to 20 gallons.

Tip #3

Install a water-saving showerhead. Don’t worry – it won’t reduce your water pressure. A family of four, each taking a five-minute shower a day, can save $250 a year in water heating costs by switching to an energy-efficient showerhead.

Tip #4

Lower your hot water heater temperature to 120°F. Some are originally set at 140°F. This can save hundreds of dollars a year.

Tip #5

Use aerators on kitchen and bathroom sink faucets. If you have hard water, clean aerators and showerheads with vinegar regularly to reduce deposits and build-up.

Tip #6

Fix leaky faucets, especially if it’s a hot water faucet. One drop per second can add up to 165 gallons a month! That’s more than one person uses in two weeks.

Tip #7

If your water heater is more than 15 years old, install an insulating blanket wrap to reduce “standby” heat loss. Insulate hot water pipes where they’re accessible.

Tip #1

Turn off lights in empty rooms and when they are not needed.

Tip #2

Keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible.

Tip #3

Get rid of spare refrigerators or freezers. An extra appliance can add more than $150 to your energy bills every year, and it’s a safety hazard for small children.

Tip #4

Set your thermostat to “auto” so that the blower fan will not operate continuously. A 1/2 HP blower fan consumes 3850 kWh annually if run around the clock. It may only need to run a third or less if set on “auto.”

Tip #5

When you go on vacation, don’t forget to give your appliances a rest too. Turn off and unplug everything you can. Set your water heater to the lowest setting and shut off the water supply to the dishwasher and washing machine.

Tip #6

Turn off and unplug appliances when not in use. Many appliances use energy on standby power even if “off”. Eliminating this “phantom” energy can reduce household energy use by as much as 10%.

Tip #7

Keep the garage door closed, especially during the winter.

Tip #8

If your home has no sidewall insulation, place heavy furniture like bookshelves, armoires and sofas along exterior walls. Also, use decorative quilts as wall hangings. This will help block cold air.

Tip #9

Smart Power Strips help reduce “phantom” energy usage by automatically turning off standby power on electronics (Cable boxes, DVD players, video game consoles) when a main electronic device, like a TV, is off.

Tip #10

Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans wisely. In just 1 hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.

Tip #11

Keep outdoor hot tubs covered when not in use. If you have a pool, use a solar cover to use the natural warmth of the sun to heat the water.

Tip #12

Place humidifiers and dehumidifiers away from walls and bulky furniture. These appliances work best when air circulates freely around them. Be sure to clean the unit often to prevent unhealthy mold and bacteria from developing.

Tip #13

Unplug any electrical device that’s not being used. Many appliances draw power even when turned off. It’s called “phantom” or “vampire energy.”

Tip #1

Use lids on pots and pans to reduce cooking times, and don’t put a small pan on a large burner.

Tip #2

Make sure the refrigerator is level so the door automatically swings shut. If the floor isn’t level, use shims to prop up the front of the refrigerator.

Tip #3

Vacuum the refrigerator coils about twice a year to keep the compressor running efficiently.

Tip #4

Keep the grease plates under range burners clean to reflect heat more efficiently.

Tip #5

Use your oven’s self-cleaning feature immediately after cooking, while the oven is still hot. This will reduce a lengthy warm-up time.

Tip #6

Check the seal on your refrigerator door by closing it on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, it’s time to replace the gaskets. You can purchase a replacement kit from an appliance dealer or a home center.

Tip #7

Don’t overload the refrigerator. The cold air needs to circulate freely to keep foods at the proper temperature.

Tip #8

Keep the refrigerator temperature about 36-38°F and the freezer at 0-5°F.

Tip #9

Run the dishwasher only with full loads and use the air-dry cycle. You could save $30-$40 per week washing two loads per week instead of four loads per week.

Tip #10

As your mother always told you, don’t leave the refrigerator door open. Every time it’s opened, up to 30% of the cooled air can escape. The same rule holds for the oven, too.

Tip #11

Use smaller kitchen appliances whenever possible. Microwaves, toaster ovens and slow-cookers can use 75% less energy than a large electric oven.

Tip #12

Don’t worry about placing hot leftovers in the refrigerator. It won’t affect energy use significantly, and cooling food to room temperature first can increase the chance of food-borne illnesses.

Tip #13

If your dishwasher has a “booster” water heater, use it; this will heat the water to the 140°F recommended by manufacturers while maintaining an energy-saving 120°F on your water heater.

Tip #1

Use hot water only for very dirty loads. Always use cold water for the rinse cycle.

Tip #2

Clean the lint screen on the dryer every time you use the machine. A clogged lint screen can make your dryer use up to 30% more energy – and it can be a fire hazard.

Tip #3

Remove clothes from the dryer while they’re still damp and hang them up. This will save energy, prevent static and reduce wrinkles and shrinkage.

Tip #4

Dry one load of clothes immediately after another. This will minimize heat loss, reducing warm-up and drying times.

Tip #1

Use ceiling fans to help circulate air throughout your home. A ceiling fan should run counter clockwise during the summer and clockwise during the winter.

Tip #2

Maintain your central air conditioner by cleaning the outside compressor with a garden hose. Be sure to shut off power at the fuse or breaker first.

Tip #3

Set the fan on your central air conditioner to “on” rather than “auto.” This will circulate air continuously, keeping the temperature in your home more consistent, plus help dehumidifying the air.

Tip #4

If your home doesn’t have central air conditioning, try an attic or whole-house fan. The fan pushes hot air out through attic vents, lowering your homes’ temperature about five degrees in less than ten minutes. Attic fans cost less than $0.25 per day to operate.

Tip #5

Plant a tree. One well-placed shade tree can reduce your cooling costs by 25%. For maximum benefit, place leafy shade trees to the south and west and evergreens to the north.

Tip #6

Make sure your window air conditioner is the proper size. It’s better to get one that’s too small than too large. A larger unit will turn off and on up more frequently and won’t do as good a job dehumidifying the air.

Tip #7

Raise the thermostat to about 78°F whenever you go to bed or leave the house. A Wi-Fi / Smart thermostat will do this for you automatically.

Tip #8

Turn off unnecessary lights and wait to use heat-producing appliances until after 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. It’s also a good idea to close the blinds on south- and west-facing windows during the hottest part of the day.


Collection of Tips

Saving energy doesn’t have to be hard. With just a few minutes a month, you’ll notice a difference — and make a difference! Download or print these PDFs and choose a few tips to work into your daily routine.

Save Energy All Year 

Saving energy year-round can be simple.

Save Energy in the Summer

When temperatures rise with summer heat, you can be cool and save energy.

Save Energy in the Winter

When temperatures drop in the winter, you can be warm and save energy.


Learning to Save Energy Together

Saving energy can be fun for all ages. Use our collection of resources and games to engage in energy-saving activities.


Explore More Ways to Save

Energy-saving Products

Rebates on energy-saving products.

Home Energy Checkup–Income Qualified

Get an in-home weatherproofing checkup and energy-saving products—for FREE.