Courtesy of The U.S. Department of Energy’s website, www.EnergySavers.gov, here are some easy and inexpensive solutions to save you energy costs at home or at work.
1. Maintain air filters and HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) equipment. Well-maintained equipment runs more efficiently, so change your air filter monthly or as needed and tune up your HVAC equipment yearly.
2. Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. Reduce temperature by 10 to 15°F before bed and before leaving for work.
3. Reduce air leaks (This can save up to 10% on energy bills.). Seal doors and windows with weather stripping or caulk. Tape clear plastic film to the inside of window frames to further reduce leaks, and consider installing insulated curtains or blinds.
4. Take advantage of the sun’s heat and light. Keep your south-facing windows clean. Open curtains on south-facing windows during the day and close all curtains at night.
5. Add insulation to your attic. With the right safety practices, this can be a do-it-yourself project.
6. Turn down the temperature on water heaters and provide good insulation. Most water heaters are set to 140°F, but at 115 to 120°F you’ll still have plenty of hot water. Insulate hot water pipes and, if your water heater is over seven years old, consider a “wrap” to insulate the tank. Also consider heat traps on water heater tanks, timers that use off-peak power for electric water heaters, hot water recirculation loops, and drain-water heat recovery systems.
7. Fireplace efficiency. Plug and seal the chimney flue of fireplaces that are never used.When using fireplaces, keep the damper closed unless a fire is going and make sure the damper is as snug as possible. Caulk around the fireplace hearth. Consider installing tempered glass doors and a heat-exchanger system to blow warm air back into the room. When a fire is lit, open dampers or open nearest window about an inch, close doors leading into the room, and lower your thermostat to between 50 and 55°F.
8. Wood and pellet burning heaters. Clean the flue vent regularly and the inside of the appliance periodically with a wire brush.
9. Unplug electronics and appliances when not in use. Use multiple-outlet strips so you can turn everything off with one flip of a switch.
10. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Lighting makes up about 10 percent of home energy costs, and CFLs can save up to 75 percent of that energy. They also last longer, saving money on replacements.