Energy Saving Tips

No matter what your budget is, there are ways to start improving the energy performance of your home today. NYSERDA has energy-saving tips to help you get started in saving energy and money.

Can’t find what you are looking for? We want to hear from you . We are always looking to update and expand our energy-saving tips to provide the best support to residents.

Appliances

Dehumidifiers

  • 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.
  • When you buy or replace a dehumidifier, purchase an ENERGY STAR® certified dehumidifierLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. ENERGY STAR dehumidifiers have more efficient refrigerant coils, compressors, and fans than conventional models, which means they remove the same amount of moisture while using nearly 30 percent less energy.

Dishwashers

  • Choose the correct-sized dishwasher for your household needs. Compact dishwashers use less energy than larger ones. Search for 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 your dishwasher early in the morning or late at night in the summer to avoid adding to the electricity demand during the hottest time of day in the afternoon. If your utility offers time-of-use pricing, this may also help lower your utility bill.
  • Select the no-heat drying option when using your dishwasher and let dishes air dry to save energy.
  • Use your dishwasher’s rinse feature, which uses less water than rinsing by hand.
  • When you buy or replace a dishwasher, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified dishwasherLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. ENERGY STAR dishwashers use advanced technology to get your dishes clean while using less water and energy, leading to lower utility bills. A new ENERGY STAR® certified dishwasher on average will save 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime.

Dryers

  • Avoid the cost of running your dryer by drying your clothes on a clothesline when weather permits or by using an indoor drying rack.
  • If you have an electric dryer, run it early in the morning or late at night in the summer to avoid adding to the electricity demand during the hottest time of day in the afternoon. If your utility offers time-of-use pricing, this may also help lower your utility bill.
  • Keep the exhaust vent for your dryer clean and make sure the exterior area it vents to is free from obstructions. A clogged exhaust lengthens drying time and increases energy use. It can also lead to overheating of your dryer, which could increase the risk of a fire.
  • Avoid over-drying your clothes by using the moisture sensor to automatically turn off your dryer when the clothes are dry. This will minimize your drying time and not only save you energy but extend the life span of your clothes.
  • Use a low heat or special energy-saving setting on your dryer to use less energy.
  • Avoid overfilling the dryer, which can cause longer drying cycles.
  • Clean the lint trap in your dryer before every load. This is one of the easiest things you can do to improve air circulation and increase the efficiency of your dryer.
  • Seal gaps around your dryer vents and ducts with caulk or spray foam to save energy.
  • When you buy or replace a dryer, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified dryerLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., which features drying systems that help you reduce related energy costs. These dryers use approximately 20 percent less energy than standard models—saving you money while reducing unnecessary wear and tear on your clothes.

Freezers

  • Keep your freezer between 0°F and 5°F. Any colder is unnecessary to keep food frozen and will use more energy than is required.
  • Minimize the number of times you open your freezer door to keep cool air from escaping.
  • When you replace your freezer, recycle the freezer, so that it is not moved to another location and re-used. Freezers contain refrigerants, oils, and other compounds that, by federal law, must be removed or recovered. The steel, other metals, and selected parts can be recycled.
  • When you buy or replace a freezer, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified freezerLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. for maximum energy savings. Freezers that have earned the ENERGY STAR label are at least 10 percent more energy efficient than the minimum standard option.

Microwaves and Stoves

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

Refrigerators

  • Make sure the refrigerator’s perimeter door seals are airtight to ensure no cool air escapes, which wastes energy. If they aren’t, replace them.
  • Keep your refrigerator at 35°F to 38°F. Any cooler is unnecessary to keep food fresh and will use more energy than is required.
  • Minimize the number of times you open your refrigerator door to keep cool air from escaping.
  • Place your refrigerator in a cool place away from a heat source such as an oven, a dishwasher, or direct sunlight to ensure your refrigerator doesn’t have to work harder and use more energy to cool.
  • Keep the refrigerator condenser coils clean to save energy and avoid repair costs in the future.
  • Allow air circulation behind your refrigerator to avoid overheating.
  • When you buy or replace a refrigerator, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified refrigeratorLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. ENERGY STAR models use much less energy than older models. For example, refrigerators over 10 years old could be costing you about $110 per year. By replacing your older model, you could save more than $270 over the following five years.
  • Consider recycling your second refrigerator or freezer and using a cooler instead for occasional parties to save energy.

Washing Machines

  • Wash your laundry with cold water whenever possible. Avoid using the hot cycle (sometimes referred to as the sanitary cycle) when using your clothes washer, unless necessary. The hot cycle uses significantly more energy.
  • 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 washing machine 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 and save you energy.
  • Run your washing machine early in the morning or late at night in the summer to avoid adding to the electricity demand during the hottest time of day in the afternoon. If your utility offers time-of-use pricing, this may also save you money on your utility bill.
  • When you buy or replace a washing machine, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified washing machineLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., which features wash systems that help you reduce related energy and water costs. ENERGY STAR certified washing machines use approximately 25 percent less energy and approximately 33 percent less water than standard models. They also use a variety of sophisticated cleaning methods that deliver on performance while being gentler on your clothes.

Computers and Home Office Equipment

Computers

  • 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 with one switch (even in sleep mode, your computer may cost you $105 a year).
  • Consider a laptop computer or tablet over a desktop—these devices 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 after 15 minutes of idleness when you leave your computer on.
  • Turn the computer monitor off when you are away from it. If you have a laptop, put it on standby mode to save energy.
  • When you buy or replace a computer, purchase an ENERGY STAR® certified computerLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. These computers deliver substantial savings over standard models.

Office Equipment (Copiers, Fax Machines, Printers, Scanners, and Mailing Machines)

  • Turn off electronics when they are not in use, as they still draw power.
  • Plug your copier, fax machine, printer, scanner, all-in-one device, and mailing machine into an advanced power strip so that when you manually switch off your computer (or put it in sleep mode), all of the devices will automatically turn off.
  • Set copiers, printers, fax machines, and other office products to standby mode when not in use.

Power Management Tools

  • Use advanced power strips to reduce energy consumption by automatically turning power off when your home energy products are not being used. Advanced power strips are a great way to save time, effort, and money in the form of lower utility bills. There are two types of advanced power strips to choose from: Tier 1 and Tier 2.
  • With Tier 1 advanced power strips, you designate one device as the control, so when you turn off your TV, for example, other electronics plugged into the strip are automatically shut off.
  • Tier 2 advanced power strips can save you even more energy. Tier 2 advanced power strips have features similar to those of Tier 1 advanced power strips, but also include either an infrared or motion sensor that can detect when electronics are not being used and turn them off automatically, without you having to do so.

Electronics and Batteries

Batteries and Charging Units

  • Consider rechargeable batteries over standard batteries. They are more cost-effective in the long term.
  • Avoid leaving charging units for appliances and battery-operated devices plugged in when not in use. Chargers that are turned off may still draw electricity from the outlet. If a charger that is plugged in but not in use is warm to the touch, it is wasting energy.
  • 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 more savings, use a power strip with a timer or a programmable power strip.

Entertainment Systems

  • Turn off your digital media players (such as DVD and Blu-ray players), audio players, and video game consoles when not in use to avoid wasting energy. When turned off, most electronics continue to draw power. To save energy and time, plug entertainment products into an advanced power strip to centrally turn off all components at once.
  • For game consoles, activate power saving settings, as gaming system features can use power even when they are not being used. Turn off the controllers when not in use to minimize energy use. Also, install all software updates, as some of them may have power-saving benefits.
  • Stream your content smartly. Streaming through a game console uses up to 10 times as much energy as streaming on a laptop or tablet. Consider using another kind of device to stream—like a Blu-ray player, set-top box, or smart TV that has earned an ENERGY STAR® label.

Telephones

  •  When you buy or replace a cordless phone, purchase an ENERGY STAR® certified phoneLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. These phones are, on average, 40 percent more efficient than conventional products.

Power Management Tools

  • Use advanced power strips to eliminate energy consumption by automatically turning power off when your electronics and appliances are not being used. Advanced power strips are a great way to save time, effort, and money in the form of lower utility bills. There are two types of advanced power strips to choose from: Tier 1 and Tier 2.
  • With Tier 1 advanced power strips, you designate one device as the control, so when you turn off your TV, for example, other electronics plugged into the strip are automatically shut off.
  • Tier 2 advanced power strips can save you even more energy. Tier 2 advanced power strips have features similar to those of Tier 1 advanced power strips, but also include either an infrared or motion sensor that can detect when electronics are not being used and turn them off automatically, without you having to do so.

Televisions

  • Turn televisions off when no one is watching them or set up a sleep timer. A TV left on for eight hours a day, or while you sleep, can cost you $41 to $102 per year.
  • If purchasing a flat-panel or large-screen television, consider an LCD or LED model. These use up to 50 percent less energy than an equivalent-sized plasma model.
  • Seal any exterior penetrations where TV/cable wires enter or exit your home with caulk or spray foam.
  • When you buy or replace a television, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified television. ENERGY STAR certified televisionsLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. are on average 27 percent more energy efficient than conventional models, saving energy in all usage modes (such as sleep, idle, and on).
  • Check with your cable provider to see if it can provide an ENERGY STAR rated set-top cable box.

Heating and Cooling

Air Conditioners

  • 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 percent of the energy used to cool your home.
  • Check your air filter every month, especially during heavy use months (such as the summer). If your filter looks dirty, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every three months. A dirty filter slows down airflow and makes your system work harder to keep you more comfortable.
  • When installing a window unit, make sure it fits tightly so that outside air does not get in. 
  • When you buy or replace an air conditioner, purchase an ENERGY STAR® certified central air conditionerLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. to save energy and money. ENERGY STAR certified central air conditioners use 8 percent less energy than conventional new models. You can also consider replacing your air conditioner with newer, energy-efficient heating and cooling options, such as air-source heat pumps and ground-source heat pumps . These newer technologies help you significantly reduce your energy use.

Attic/Floor Vents

  • Make sure attic vents are not blocked so air can flow freely to minimize the use of an attic vent fan. 
  • Make sure that the connections at floor vents and registers are well sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling and are clear of any furniture or rugs.

Boilers

  • Have your boiler serviced on a yearly basis by a qualified contractor to ensure maximum efficiency and performance.
  • When having your boiler serviced, request a combustion analysis, which shows the boiler’s operational efficiency.
  • When you buy or replace a boiler, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified boilerLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. These achieve greater energy efficiency than non-ENERGY STAR boilers, helping you save money on utility bills and protect the climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Ceiling Fans

  • 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. Make sure the fan is running counterclockwise to create a cooling downdraft.
  • 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 a clockwise direction. Reversing the fan will force warm air near the ceiling down into the living space.
  • Turn off fans when you leave the room to save energy. 
  • When you buy or replace a ceiling fan, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified ceiling fanLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. These fans use improved motor and blade designs and are 40 percent more efficient than conventional fan units.

Fireplaces

  • Close your fireplace damper tightly when not in use to prevent warmed or cooled air from escaping.
  • Consider a fireplace balloon or chimney plug for an even tighter seal when your fireplace is not in use. 
  • Consider purchasing a high-efficiency, low-emission wood pellet stove. These heating systems are a cleaner way to use wood for heat than conventional wood stoves and fireplaces. Because these stoves are more efficient, they burn less fuel and can often save homeowners money. NYSERDA offers two incentive options, determined by income, for homeowners to purchase these stoves.

Furnaces

  • Seal and insulate your furnace ducts to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent.
  • Install glass doors on your furnace to help with heat loss.
  • Make sure you are using dry wood in the furnace to ensure the wood is burning as cleanly as possible.
  • Consider purchasing an ENERGY STAR certified gas furnace. Certified gas furnaces in the northern half of the U.S. will be up to 15 percent more energy efficient than baseline models and can save up to $75 a year in energy costs.

Heating and Cooling Equipment (HVAC)

  • Check your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) air filters every month, especially during heavy use months (such as the summer and winter). Replace filters at least every three months to keep your equipment running efficiently. A dirty filter slows down airflow and makes your system work harder to keep you more comfortable.
  • Have a contractor complete an annual preseason tune-up of your cooling system in the spring and heating system in the fall to keep your systems at peak performance and prevent future problems.
  • Find and seal any leaks in your duct system. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.
  • If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, consider replacing your system with ENERGY STAR certified equipmentLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., which has higher efficiency ratings. You can also consider replacing your existing HVAC equipment with newer, energy-efficient heating and cooling options, such as air-source heat pumps and ground-source heat pumps. These newer technologies help you significantly reduce your energy use.

Radiators

  • If your home has radiators, place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls to minimize heat loss.
  • Bleed trapped air out of your radiators at least once a year, for example, often at the beginning of the winter season. When trapped air prevents water or steam from filling the radiator, the radiator may fail to heat efficiently.

Thermostats

  • Use smart thermostats to easily program your thermostat and regulate the temperature of your home, no matter where you are. 
  • When you buy or replace a thermostat, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostatLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. to receive demonstrated energy savings in addition to reliable performance.

Insulation, Windows, and Doors

Doors

  • Install door bottoms, thresholds, or door shoes to seal gaps beneath exterior doors.
  • Caulk and weatherstrip around your doors 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.

Insulation

  • Consider installing weatherstripping on doors and caulking around windows to effectively seal and insulate against air leaks, making your home more comfortable and efficient. Learn more about sealing and insulation.

Windows

  • As winter approaches, replace your window screens with storm windows to provide an extra barrier to the cold outside air. You can also put up window plastic to protect against drafty windows in the winter. 
  • Take steps to protect against water condensation on interior window surfaces, such as by using bathroom and kitchen fans when you cook or shower, circulating air with ceiling fans (even in the winter), adding weatherstripping to windows, or purchasing a Fresh Air Exchange.
  • When you buy or replace windows, purchase ENERGY STAR® certified windowsLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows can lower household utility bills by an average of 12 percent.

Lighting

Decorative Lighting

  • Turn off holiday lights at night or attach them to a programmable timer or photosensor that detects daylight to prevent energy waste.
  • When you buy or replace decorative lighting, purchase ENERGY STAR® certified light stringsLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. They consume 75 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strings.

Light Bulbs

  • Replace conventional light bulbs (such as incandescent, halogen, fluorescent) with energy-efficient light bulb options (such as LEDs, LED fixtures, smart light bulbs). Energy-efficient lighting uses less energy and lasts longer. 
  • When you buy or replace light bulbs, purchase light bulbs with the ENERGY STAR label. This is the easiest and most reliable way to ensure the light bulb you purchase delivers exceptional features while using less energy. ENERGY STAR light bulbs use 70 to 90 percent less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs and last at least 15 times as long.

Light Fixtures and Switches

  • Consider lighting controls such as dimmers, motion sensors, Home Energy Management Systems, and/or photosensors to save on lighting costs. Dimmers allow you to better control indoor lighting; when you dim light bulbs, it reduces their wattage and output, which helps you save energy. Motion sensors and photosensors prevent outdoor lights from operating during daylight hours. Home Energy Management Systems allow you to automatically turn lighting on and off in your home using a computer dashboard or mobile app. Consult with your local hardware store to ensure dimmers, motion sensors, and photosensors are compatible with the light bulb or fixture you are using. 
  • When replacing light fixtures, purchase ENERGY STAR certified light fixturesLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. These fixtures use 90 percent less energy and produce 70 to 90 percent less heat than conventional models using incandescent light bulbs. These fixtures also last 15 times as long as incandescent light bulbs.

Personal Transportation

Alternative Transportation

  • If you have to drive to work each day, consider taking advantage of carpools and rideshare programs. You could cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns driving with other commuters. Many urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use high-occupancy vehicle lanes, which are typically less congested, further improving your fuel economy. Visit 511NYRideshare.orgLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. and explore your transportation options.
  • Explore work-from-home options with your employer to significantly reduce transportation-related costs.
  • Consider walking and biking to reduce pollution and traffic from vehicles.

Buying a Vehicle

  • Purchase an electric vehicle. Not only are electric vehicles cleaner, but they offer a cutting-edge driving experience, save money on fuel, and need less maintenance than gas or diesel cars. New York offers a Drive Clean Rebate to individuals who purchase electric vehicles—up to $2,000 for new car purchases or leases. This can be combined with a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Driving

  • Install low-rolling-resistance tires, which improve the fuel economy of your vehicle.
  • Keep your vehicle engine properly tuned to avoid repair costs, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce pollution. 
  • Have your car regularly serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • When traveling longer distances, use cruise control at the designated travel speed to save fuel.
  • Leave vehicle rooftop luggage racks, kayak holders, and ski racks on your car only when necessary, as they add weight, reduce aerodynamics, and decrease fuel efficiency.
  • Keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure to improve your gas mileage by up to 3 percent. Properly inflated tires are also safer and last longer. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker on the driver’s side door frame, in the glove box, or in your owner’s manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall; maximum pressure may not mean proper pressure.
  • For gas vehicles, use the grade and type of motor oil identified in the owner’s manual and change at the recommended interval. Doing so can improve your gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent. Remember that electric cars don’t require oil changes.
  • Avoid idling, which gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas idling than do cars with smaller engines. Idling for just five minutes increases fuel consumption by seven to 14 percent. Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked to save fuel and reduce unnecessary emissions.
  • Avoid aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and sudden braking), which wastes fuel. It can lower your fuel mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. 
  • Combine errands into one trip to save time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed up and efficient, and it can reduce the distance you travel.
  • Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your gas mileage by about 1.5 percent.

Outdoor Home Exterior

Chimneys

Pool Pumps

  • Use the smallest pump appropriate for your swimming pool to save energy.
  • Use a timer for your pool pump to turn the pump on only as needed to keep the water clean.
  • Follow a program of regular maintenance and clean the filter as recommended to maintain maximum efficiency. 
  • When buying a new pool pump, look for a variable-speed pump; it saves more energy than a single-speed pump.
  • When you buy or replace a pool pump, purchase anENERGY STAR® certified pool pumpLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., which uses up to 70 percent less energy than standard pool pumps. This can save you up to $350 a year in utility bills.

Pools/Hot Tubs

  • Install solar water heating systems for pools/hot tubs. Use covers when they are not in use to save energy and conserve water.
  • When you buy or replace a pool pump, purchase an ENERGY STAR certified pool pumpLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., which uses up to 70 percent less energy than standard pool pumps. This can save you up to $350 a year in utility bills.

Solar

Water Fixtures and Heaters

Water Fixtures

  • Install low-water-use fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms, such as a low-flow showerhead to reduce water usage.
  • Consider reducing the time of your showers to conserve water and save energy.
  • Repair any faucet leaks in your home. Fixing drips is a cost-effective and easy way to save energy.

Water Heaters

  • Consider using solar water heating systems, which use sunshine to heat or preheat water. These systems can cut your annual hot water costs in half. If considering a solar water heater system, look at ENERGY STAR® certified optionsLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. These options are generally designed for use with an electric or gas backup water heater.
  • If you have an older electric domestic hot water (DHW) 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.
  • For smaller households or homes with lower hot water demand, consider tankless water heaters to reduce standby storage costs and waste.