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Residential Energy Saving Tips

Air Conditioner

  • To prevent energy loss as winter approaches, remove your window-unit air conditioner or insulate it from the outside with a tight-fitting cover, available at local home improvement or hardware stores.
  • Each degree above 75°F that you set your air conditioner’s thermostat saves you 3% of the energy used to cool your home.

Attic Vents

  • Make sure attic vents are not blocked so air can flow freely to minimize the use of an attic vent fan.

Batteries

  • Rechargeable batteries are generally more cost effective than standard batteries.

Battery Charging Systems and External Power Adapters

  • Avoid leaving charging units for appliances and battery-operated devices on when not in use.
  • Unplug electronics that are not being used instead of turning them off. Electronics turned off may still draw electricity from the outlet - otherwise known as “phantom load."
  • Plug your battery charging system or power adapter into a power strip to enable you to shut off power with the flick of a switch. For even better control, use a power strip with a timer or a programmable power strip.

Boiler

  • Regularly clean and maintain your boiler to ensure peak efficiency and performance. Hire a heating contractor accredited by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) to ensure quality.
  • When having your boiler serviced, request a combustion analysis which shows that the boiler is operating efficiently.
  • If your boiler is 10-15 years old or is not working, consider replacing your equipment with a high-efficiency unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label.

Building Design

  • Use whole-building design techniques that consider all building energy components and systems.
  • Build a New York ENERGY STAR home. Durable, comfortable, and performance-tested, New York ENERGY STAR Homes use less energy than conventional homes.

Cars

  • Install low-rolling resistance tires which improve the fuel economy of your vehicle.
  • Keep your vehicle engine properly tuned.
  • Properly inflate vehicle tires.
  • When traveling, use cruise control to save fuel.
  • Vehicle rooftop luggage racks, kayak holders, and ski racks add weight, reduce aerodynamics and decrease fuel efficiency.
  • Consider purchasing a fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle.
  • Consider purchasing a diesel vehicle which is more efficient than vehicles that use gasoline.
  • Research the miles per gallon rating when purchasing a vehicle.
  • For better fuel efficiency, do not idle your car for more than 60 seconds.

Ceiling Fan

  • Install an ENERGY STAR ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can help reduce the need for air conditioning.
  • On hot summer days when air conditioning is necessary, use a ceiling fan along with your air conditioner to circulate the air throughout the room and cool the room more efficiently.
  • In the winter, your ceiling fan can help heat your home more economically. Most fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan in the opposite direction. Reversing the fan will force warm air near the ceiling down into the living space.

Chimney

  • To minimize heat loss around chimney and furnace flues, cover the gaps with metal flashing and caulk small gaps with high temperature caulk.

Clothes Washer

  • Wash your laundry with cold water whenever possible since heating accounts for up to 90 percent of a clothes washer's energy use.
  • Wash full loads which can save you more than 3,400 gallons of water per year. If you must wash a partial load, reduce the level of detergent and water appropriately.
  • If your clothes washer has spin options, choose the extended spin option to reduce the amount of remaining moisture in your clothes after washing. This will reduce drying time.
  • Avoid the sanitary cycle when using your clothes washer. This is a hot cycle which uses significantly more energy.

Computer

  • When you shut down your computer, don’t forget to turn off the monitor - it can use twice as much energy as the computer!
  • Use an advanced power strip for convenience; that way all of your computer accessories are turned off by one switch (even in sleep mode, your computer may cost you $105 a year). An advanced power strip will also eliminate “phantom load” from your office peripherals.
  • Consider a laptop computer over a traditional desktop – laptops use less energy.
  • To save energy, reduce the brightness of your computer screen and enable any power management features on your computer.
  • Use the power management feature on your computer monitor; it will turn off the monitor when idle for over 15 minutes when you leave your computer on.
  • Turn the computer monitor off when you are away from it or if you have a laptop, put it on standby mode.

Copiers, Fax Machines and Mailing Machines

  • Turn off electronics when they are not in use.
  • Consider a multifunction device, which combines printing, copying, faxing and scanning and look for the ENERGY STAR label to further increase energy savings.
  • Plug your copier, fax machine and mailing machine into an advanced power strip so that when you switch off your computer (or put it in sleep mode) all of the peripherals will also turn off.

Cordless Phones

  • When buying a cordless phone, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR phones use only about one-third the energy of standard cordless phones.

Dehumidifier

  • When operating a dehumidifier, close all doors and windows to ensure the equipment runs efficiently.
  • Place your dehumidifier away from sources of dust and dirt such as woodworking equipment to avoid clogging coils and grills, which will cause the dehumidifier to waste energy.

Dishwasher

  • Choose the correct sized dishwasher for your household needs; ideally a model with several wash cycle selections to optimize energy savings.
  • Run full loads in your dishwasher to minimize energy use and save water.
  • Run the dishwasher early in the morning or late at night to reduce the impact on the electric grid when demand is greatest during the day.
  • Select the no-heat drying option when using your dishwasher and let dishes air dry.
  • Use your dishwasher's rinse feature which uses less water than rinsing by hand.

Doors

  • Install door bottoms, threshold, or door “shoes” to seal gaps beneath exterior doors.
  • Caulk and weatherstrip around your doors and windows to minimize heat loss and save energy.

Drapes/Shades

  • In cold weather, take advantage of the sun's warmth by keeping drapes open during daylight hours.
  • In hot weather, keep your shades down and the drapes drawn during the hottest time of the day and open them at night.

Dryer

  • Keep your clothes dryer's outside exhaust clean. A clogged exhaust lengthens drying time and increases energy use.
  • To avoid over-drying your clothes, use the moisture sensor to automatically turns off your dryer when clothes are dry.
  • Clean the lint trap in your dryer before every load.
  • Seal gaps around your dryer vents, ducts, or electrical wires with caulk or spray foam to save energy.

DVD Products, Home Audio and Combination Units

  • Don’t forget to "turn off" your DVD player, video game console and television when not in use.
  • When turned off, most electronics continue to draw power for the digital displays. To save energy, plug your TV, DVD player and home audio products into an advanced power strip to centrally "turn off" all components at once.
  • Consider combination products to save space, simplify set-up, and save energy in standby mode.

Electrical Outlets

  • Seal holes around your electrical outlets with an inexpensive outlet gasket.

Energy Monitor

  • Use an energy monitor to identify what products consume the most energy and to see what steps can be taken to reduce energy usage. 

ENERGY STAR Products

  • Always buy ENERGY STAR-qualified products when shopping for items such as lighting, computers, and TVs.

Fireplace

  • Close your fireplace damper tightly when not in use to prevent warmed or cooled air from escaping.

Floor Vents

  • Make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling and are clear of furniture and rugs.

Freezer

  • To save energy, keep the temperature of your freezer at 0°F.

Furnace

  • Seal and insulate your furnace ducts to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20%.

Holiday Lights

  • Set holiday lights on a programmable timer or a photosensor that detects daylight.
  • In the winter, use ENERGY STAR-qualified holiday lights to decorate your home. They consume 70% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than conventional light strings.

HVAC

  • Make sure your heating and cooling equipment is properly-sized since either oversized or undersized equipment wastes energy, reduces comfort and shortens the life of the equipment.
  • Check your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) air filters once a month during heavy use months in winter and summer. Replace filters at least every 3 months.

Insulation

  • Seal and insulate your home's outer walls, ceilings, windows, and floors. When done by a knowledgeable homeowner or contractor accredited by the Building Performance Institute (BPI), this can save you up to 20% on heating and cooling costs.
  • Seal your heating and cooling ducts starting with the ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement, or garage. Use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts. After sealing, wrap the ducts in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter.
  • Seal gaps around your plumbing stacks, vents, ducts, or electrical wires in your attic with caulk or spray foam to save energy.
  • Seal the perimeter along the top of the basement wall where cement or block comes in contact with the wood frame with expanding foam or caulk. Also seal penetrations such as pipes and wiring which go through the basement ceiling to the floor above.
  • In the bathroom, seal all holes that lead from bathroom plumbing, ductwork, recessed lights or electrical runs. Seal around drafty windows, baseboards, and floors to help avoid common mold and moisture problems.

Laundry

  • Avoid the cost of running your clothes dryer by drying your clothes on a clothesline when weather permits or by using a drying rack.

Light Switches

  • Color code or mark light switches and circuit breakers that can be turned off when not needed.
  • Consider lighting controls such as dimmers and occupancy sensors to save on lighting costs.

Lighting

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer.
  • When possible, incorporate daylighting into your total lighting approach. Daylighting technology, including photosensors and dimming ballasts, have come down in price in recent years, making the opportunity to incorporate daylighting a more cost-effective solution than in the past.
  • For the greatest savings on your lighting costs, buy ENERGY STAR-qualified LED lights: they last a minimum of 25,000 hours or 22 years based on average household use, and most come with a minimum three-year warranty.
  • Install a motion sensor and/or a photosensor to prevent outdoor lights from operating during daylight hours.

Microwave

  • Save energy by using your microwave or toaster oven instead of the stove to heat small portions.

Office Equipment

  • Set copiers, printers, fax machines and other office products to standby mode when not in use.
  • Save energy and space with an ENERGY STAR qualified multi-function device that combines several capabilities (print, fax, copy, scan). Enable power management features for additional savings.

Phones

  • Look for ENERGY STAR qualified cordless phones that feature switch-mode power supplies and "smart" chargers for added energy savings.

Pool Pump

  • Use the smallest sized pump appropriate for your swimming pool to save energy.
  • Use a timer for your pool pump to turn the pump on and off only as needed to keep the water clean.
  • When buying a new pool pump, look for a variable-speed pump as it saves more energy than single-speed pumps.

Pools/Hot Tubs

  • Install solar water heating systems for pools/hot tubs. Use covers when the area is closed.

Power Strip

  • Plug your TV, computer, and other electronics into a power strip to centrally “turn off” all appliances and save energy.
  • Purchase the right-sized advanced power strip for the right application. The more outlets a strip has, the more energy it uses.

Printers, Scanners, and All-in-One Devices

  • Ink jet printers use as much as 90% less energy than typical laser printers.
  • Choose a multifunctional product (printer/copier/scanner) instead of separate products.
  • Don’t forget to turn your printer off at night as it still draws power even when not in use.
  • Plug your printer, scanner and all-in-one device into an advanced power strip so that when you switch off your computer (or put it in sleep mode) all of the peripherals will also turn off.

Programmable Thermostat

  • Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust your home's temperature settings while you're away or sleeping.

Radiators

  • If your home has radiators, place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls to minimize heat loss.
  • Bleed the air out of your radiators twice a year.

Refrigerator

  • Make sure the refrigerator seals around the door are airtight. If not, replace them.
  • Keep your refrigerator at 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place your refrigerator in a cool place away from a heat source such as an oven, a dishwasher, or direct sunlight from a window.
  • Keep the refrigerator condenser coils clean.
  • Allow air circulation behind your refrigerator.
  • If your current refrigerator was made before 1993, replace it with a new ENERGY STAR model which uses half the amount of energy. If you have a fridge from the 1980s, replace it with an ENERGY STAR qualified model and save over $100 per year on your utility bills. Replace a fridge from the 1970s and save more than $200 per year!
  • Recycle your second refrigerator. Use a cooler instead for occasional parties.

Stove

  • For gas ranges, keep the burners clean to ensure maximum efficiency. Blue flames mean good combustion. Yellow flames mean service may be needed to ensure the gas is burning efficiently.

TV Cable Wires

  • Seal any holes with caulk or spray foam where pipes or TV/cable wires and vents enter or exit your home.

Television and VCRs

  • Turn televisions off when no-one is watching them. A TV left on for 8 hours a day or while you sleep will cost you about $41-$102 per year.
  • When choosing a new television look for the ENERGY STAR label to save energy.
  • If considering a flat-panel or large-screen television, consider purchasing an LCD or LED model rather than a plasma model to cut your power usage by approximately 50%.

Water Fixtures

  • Install low water use water fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms such as a low-flow showerhead.

Water Heaters

  • Buy an ENERGY STAR-qualified water heater. In areas of infrequent use, consider tankless water heaters to reduce standby storage costs and waste.
  • If you have an older water heater (seven years or older), you can improve its insulation by wrapping it with an insulating jacket.
  • Set your hot water heater to 120°F or only as hot as needed. Turn off your water heater when you are on vacation.

Water Leaks

  • Repair any faucet leaks in your home. Fixing drips is a cost effective and easy way to save energy.

Windows

  • As winter approaches, replace your window screens with storm windows to provide an extra barrier to the cold outside air.
  • If replacing windows, choose ENERGY STAR qualified models and save approximately $20-$95 per year in energy costs.

Additional Commercial Tips 

Additional Seasonal Tips

Last Updated: 10/06/2014