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While School's Out, Learn Lessons in Home Energy Use

Put an Energy Efficiency Plan into Action with Tips from NYSERDA

July 14, 2011

It may be summer vacation season, but that doesn’t mean you should take a break from your home energy responsibilities. In fact, getting the whole family involved in making better choices regarding energy efficiency is a great way to teach your household how to conserve resources and save money.

These tips from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) can help your family stop wasting energy, save money and, at the same time, still stay comfortable. 

  • Staying Cool: Heating and cooling accounts for 60 percent of your home’s energy use. To insure that your heating and cooling methods make the grade, examine how well your home is insulated. If you have less than six inches of insulation in your attic, for example, your home could benefit from more. Here are some other ideas:
    • Use a small room fan in the summer months as a great alternative to air conditioning.
    • Close the blinds on windows that let direct sunlight in to keep heat out.
    • Use caulking and weather stripping to seal energy leaks around windows and doors, which could help you save up to 10 percent on your energy bill.
  • Controlling Kitchen Hogs: Your refrigerator is the No. 1 energy user in the kitchen, accounting for 12 percent of your home's total energy consumption. With the temperature hot outside, kids are more likely to grab a Popsicle or cold beverage.
    • Minimize cooling loss by opening the doors of the refrigerator as little as possible.
    • Clean the coils underneath and behind the appliance.
    • Keep your freezer full to help the unit run more efficiently.
    • If your appliance is older than 10 years, consider replacing it with an ENERGY STARÒ model, which uses up to 40 percent less energy and can save you up to $110 annually.
  • Keeping it Clean: Your dishwasher is another energy-consuming culprit. Making a few simple adjustments to your dishwashing routine will yield large energy returns.
    • Always run your dishwasher when the load is full and during off-peak hours – after 6:30 p.m. and before 9:30 a.m.
    • Select the “no heat” or “air-dry” options to further reduce energy use.
    • If you don't have an ENERGY STAR qualified model, consider upgrading. These units use up to 41 percent less energy than standard machines.
  • Looking Good: Summer is the prime time for grass stains, dirty play clothes, and lots of laundry.
    • Opt for an ENERGY STAR washer to help you save.
    • Front-loading washers also use half as much water as a standard top-loading washer and are far more effective and gentler on your clothes.
    • A moisture sensitive dryer will automatically shut off when clothes are dry, cutting down on both energy and time. Better yet, use a clothesline and let the sun's natural energy do all the drying – it's free.
  • Heating Things Up: Water heating accounts for 16 percent of the energy usage in your home, so be conscious of it.
    • Insulating hot-water pipes will prevent costly heat loss and save on energy bills.
    • Check your faucets for cracks and leaks – a mere drop of water per second can waste as much as 10 gallons of water a week and hundreds of dollars per year.
    • Instead of using 30 to 40 gallons of water to take a bath, install a low-flow showerhead, which uses less than 3 gallons a minute. You'll save $50 per year on average.
  • Lighting the Way: Lighting accounts for another 12 percent of your home's energy use.
    • Replace your light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified CFL bulbs. These use 75 percent less energy, and each bulb can help you save $12 to $20 per year. Keep the bulbs clean and you can further improve efficiency by as much as 20 percent.
    • Take advantage of longer summer days by letting the sunlight in on days when outside humidity is low.
    • Use lighting controls, like timers and outdoor motion-sensor lighting, to further reduce your energy use.

To find out more on how you can help family members earn an A+ in energy efficiency at home – and gain measurable energy savings – complete an energy savings plan, available through NYSERDA's Energy Smart Students program. To download a free workbook, visit the Get Energy Smart Energy Education and look for “Energy Action at Home.”

For more energy-saving tips from NYSERDA, visit Get Energy Smart Energy Saving Tips

About NYSERDA

NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.

Last Updated: 01/21/2014

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