No-cost ways to save energy and money
- Turn off everything not in use: lights, TVs, computers, etc.
Check the furnace or air conditioner (AC) filter
each month, and clean or replace it as needed. Dirty
filters block air flow through your heating and cooling
systems, increasing your energy bill and shortening the
- During hot months, keep window coverings closed on
the south, east, and west windows. In winter, let the sun in.
Glass fireplace doors help stop heat from being lost
up the chimney. Also, close the fireplace damper when
not in use.
- Activate “sleep” features on computers and office
equipment that power down when not in use for a while.
Turn off equipment during longer periods of non-use to
cut energy costs and improve longevity.
When cooking, keep the lids on pots. Better yet, use
a microwave oven instead.
- Dress appropriately for the weather, and set your
thermostat to the lowest possible comfortable setting.
On winter nights, put an extra blanket on the bed and
turn down your thermostat more.
- In summer, use fans whenever possible instead of AC,
and ventilate at night this way when practical. Using fans
to supplement AC allows you to raise the thermostat
temperature, using less energy. Fans cost less to use
- About 15 percent of an average home energy bill
goes to heating water. To save hot water, take five minute showers instead of baths.
- Do only full loads when using the clothes washer or dishwasher. Use cold
water for laundry and save up to $65 a year—detergents
formulated for cold water get clothes just as clean.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater. It
should be set at “warm,” so that a thermometer held
under running water reads 130 degrees.
- Only heat or cool the rooms you need—close vents
and doors of unused rooms.
Low-cost ways to save energy and money
- Install low-flow showerheads and sink aerators to
reduce hot water use.
- Seal and weatherstrip your windows and doors to
ensure that you’re not wasting energy on heat or air
conditioning that escapes through leaks to the outdoors.
- A water tank insulation wrap costs about $20 and
helps hold the heat inside. Add pre-cut pipe insulation
to exposed pipes going into your water heater—it is
cheap and easy to install. If you’re starting with an
uninsulated tank, the energy savings should pay for the
improvements in just a few months.
- Duct tape works well on lots of things, but it often
fails when used on ductwork! Use mastic (a gooey
substance applied with a paintbrush) to seal all exposed
ductwork joints in areas such as the attic, crawlspace,
or basement. Insulate ducts to improve your heating
system’s efficiency and your own comfort.
- Storm windows can reduce heat lost by single-paned
windows by 25–50 percent during the winter. As an
alternative, you can improve your windows temporarily
with plastic sheeting installed on the inside.
When buying new products, look for the ENERGY
STAR® label, found on more than 40 different products
such as TVs, furnaces, cell phones, refrigerators, air
conditioners and more.
- Incandescent light bulbs are outdated; 95 percent
of the energy used goes to heating the bulb, adding
unwanted heat to your home in the summer. Replace
your five most used light bulbs with ENERGY STAR
compact fluorescent bulbs to save $40 each year in
energy costs. These light bulbs use two-thirds less
energy and last up to 10 times longer. Use dimmers,
timers, and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting.
- Consider safer, more efficient ENERGY STAR torchiere
lamps rather than halogen torchieres, which are
expensive to use and can cause fires.
THE ULTIMATE CHECKLIST
WEATHERIZE & INSULATE
Save up to 20 percent of your heating and cooling costs
• Warm air leaking into your home during the summer
and out of your home during the winter wastes money.
A handy homeowner can seal up holes to the outside by
weatherstripping doors and sealing windows and other
gaps along the home’s foundation. A combination of air
sealing and adding insulation to attics, basements, and
crawlspaces provides tremendous energy savings and
• The easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate
your home is to add insulation in the attic. If you have
less than 6 or 7 inches, you can probably benefit by adding more. Most U.S. homes should have between R-38
and R-49 attic insulation. In order to achieve this, many
homeowners should add between R-19 to R-30 insulation
(about 6 to 10 inches).
• Other effective places to add insulation include unfinished basement walls and crawlspaces. Insulating walls
can be more complex, but it can be worthwhile to do if
you have little or no insulation now. Check with a contractor for advice.
• Consider the ENERGY STAR® Home Sealing Program—
the government’s information for sealing your home:
IMPROVE YOUR APPLIANCES & ELECTRONICS
appliances account for about 20 percent of household energy use
• Appliances and electronics really add up on your
energy bill. When it is time to replace, remember
these items have two price tags: purchase price and
lifetime energy cost. When shopping for new appliances
(refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.) and electronics (TV,
computer, etc.), demand the ENERGY STAR label.
ENERGY STAR is the government’s rating program that
shows you which items are more efficient than typical
models. ENERGY STAR items will save you money over
the product’s useful life.
IMPROVE YOUR WINDOWS
efficient windows can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 30 percent
• If your home has only single pane windows, consider
replacing them with low-e coated or ENERGY STAR
windows. Alternatively, storm windows can reduce your
winter heat loss by 25–50 percent.
IMPROVE YOUR MECHANICAL SYSTEMS
up to half of your energy bill goes just for heating and cooling
• Turn your heating or cooling down every night and
when you leave home. Better yet—install an ENERGY
STAR programmable thermostat; when used correctly
it can save about $100 each year by automatically
adjusting the temperature for you.
• When it’s time to replace your hot water tank, buy the
most efficient one possible. Consider a tankless, on-demand system (these won’t work for everyone, so talk to
• An ENERGY STAR qualified furnace, when properly
sized and installed, along with sealed ducts and a programmable thermostat, can save up to 20 percent on
• When buying a new AC unit, look for the ENERGY
STAR label or a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating)
of 13 or higher on central systems and the ENERGY
STAR label on room units. In arid climates, evaporative
coolers are much more efficient (and less costly) than
AC. They also add needed moisture to the air, while AC
units further dry the air.
• Adding area heaters to warm just the occupied rooms
in your home will enable you to keep the rest of your
home at cooler, more economical temperatures.
save $100-200 each year
• Trees that lose their leaves in the fall give protection
from the summer sun and permit winter sunlight to
reach and warm your home. Plant trees on the south,
east, and/or west sides of your home. Be sure to shade
the AC unit. Create a windbreak with evergreen trees
and shrubs to stop chilling winds.