99 Energywise Ideas
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Insulating your house, putting in storm windows and installing weather stripping can go a long way toward making your home more energy-efficient. Weatherizing is like buttoning up your coat in the winter: It keeps the warm air in and the cold air out. Examine the following tips and see if they won't help make your home a cozier place.
1. The most important single step in residential energy conservation is the installation of thermal insulation, which is specified in terms of thermal resistance (R-values). R-30 (10 inches) is recommended for ceilings under roofs or heated spaces; R-19 (51Ú2 inches) for exterior walls and floors over unheated areas.
2. Single-glazed windows - even those of high quality and in good repair - should have storm windows. A wood or metal frame storm window provides a second layer of glass and a dead-air space between the panes to retain the heat. Plastic storm window kits that you can buy at your local hardware store also can be used.
3. You should install storm doors at all entrances to your home. A storm door helps save energy because it reduces the amount of cold air that can rush into your home when you open the exterior door. It also helps keep drafts out when the exterior door is closed.
4. Replace or repair broken window glass, worn weather-stripping and doors that don't fit properly.
5. Add weather stripping and caulking around all doors and windows, including attic entryways, to reduce air leaks. You can also add caulking around baseboards, where walls meet walls, ceiling or floor, and around exterior faucets.
6. Encourage your family to keep exterior doors and windows closed in winter.
7. In winter, the air is normally dry inside your home, especially here in New Mexico. This is a disadvantage because, to be comfortable in dry air, people require a higher temperature than they would in a humid environment. Humidifiers can help make your home more comfortable with less energy. They can be freestanding or built into a heating system.
8. Cold air leaking into your home from the outside is your heating system's greatest enemy. By finding all the little cracks and gaps where air can leak into your home and filling them with caulking or weather-stripping, you can make a big difference in your comfort and in your home's energy efficiency.
9. Some of the worst air leakage areas for the average home are exterior wall outlets (20 percent), the soleplate (25 percent), the duct system (14 percent), exterior windows (12 percent) and fireplaces (5 percent). Make sure all of these areas are properly prepared for winter.
10. Keep the overhead door of an attached garage closed to block winds that can seep into your home from the connecting door between the house and garage.
11. Fireplaces should have tightly fitting dampers which can be closed when the fireplace is not in use. Open dampers let the natural draft of your chimney pull warm air out of your home in the winter.
12. In winter, steam from bathing and cooking humidify your home and make it easier to heat. Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans sparingly to take advantage of it.
13. Set your thermostat as low as comfort permits. Each degree over 68 degrees can add up to 3 percent to the amount of energy needed to heat your home.
14. Make sure that your thermostat is level. This is important for it to operate properly. Additionally, make sure that the thermostat is not exposed to direct sunlight or other direct heat sources. It should measure what you are feeling.
15. Consider buying and installing an automatic setback thermostat. This can be set to raise or lower the temperature in your house automatically according to your needs.
16. When entertaining a large group in the winter, lower the thermostat a degree or two before your guests arrive. Otherwise your home may become wastefully overheated due to the heat that's naturally generated by all of your guests.
17. Lubricate your heater motor and blower bearings regularly in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations to not only extend their lives, but to limit the amount of energy lost to friction during operation.
18. Close heating and return air vents or radiator valves in unused rooms. Keep doors to unused rooms closed.
19. Make sure that vents for supply, or return air, are not blocked by drapes or furniture.
20. If possible, install window refrigerated air-conditioning units on the shady side of your home. If it's located in direct sunlight, it'll have to work harder and use more energy.
21. Set your cooling thermostat as high as comfort permits. The higher the setting, the more energy you'll save.
22. Close cooling vents and turn off window refrigerated air-conditioners in unused rooms. Keep doors to unused rooms closed.
23. With evaporative (swamp) cooling, crack open windows in rooms where you want cool air to flow. Conversely, close off areas of the house not in use.
24. Use the low speed setting on your evaporative cooler whenever possible; it uses significantly less energy.
25. When building a new home or refurbishing an old one, choose light-colored roof shingles to reflect more of the sun's heat.
26. Open windows during the pleasant days of spring and let the outside air cool your home instead of using your cooler or air conditioner.
27. Draw blinds, shades or drapes to block the sun during the hottest part of the day.
28. Install awnings over windows that are exposed to direct sunlight. Deciduous trees planted in appropriate locations help to shade the house in summer.
29. Don't put appliances that generate heat, like lamps and TV sets, under your wall-mounted cooling thermostat. The heat rising from them can cause the thermostat to read a temperature that's higher than the actual room temperature and lead to overcooling the whole house.
30. One of the biggest energy users in your home next to your heating and cooling systems is your hot water system. That's why it's important to make sure it's properly maintained. Drain a bucket of water from the bottom of the tank once or twice a year to get rid of sediment that can interfere with heating.
31. You might also want to purchase a water heater insulation kit, especially in unheated areas, such as the garage. Hot water tanks are usually not insulated all that well, so an extra layer of protection will help to keep heat from being lost through the wall of the tank. Water heater insulation kits are relatively inexpensive and easy to install and they can do a lot to make your water heater more energy efficient. The installation of a timer for an electric water heater is also beneficial.
32. Repair leaky faucets. A steady drip of hot water can waste many gallons of water a month along with all the energy it took to heat it.
33. Letting the water run while you're shaving or doing the dishes by hand can waste a lot of hot water. Try using sink stoppers and dishpans instead.
34. There are a number of ways to conserve water. Encourage your family to take showers rather than baths. Showers use about half as much hot water. Installing flow restriction devices/aerators on all faucets will reduce water use. In addition, a two-liter soda bottle filled with water and capped tightly can be placed in the toilet tank to conserve water.
35. If you stop your dishwasher just before the dry cycle, you can cut its energy usage in half. Most newer dishwashers have an energy-saving feature called air dry which will stop it for you automatically.
36. Washing and rinsing dishes by hand uses more energy than one dishwasher cycle.
37. Wait until your dishwasher is completely full before you run it and avoid using the rinse and hold cycles.
38. When loading, make sure you don't block the dispenser and spray arms.
39. Use the shortest wash cycle with warm or cold water when possible. Cold water washing prevents fading, removes surface lint and keeps permanent press clothes from wrinkling.
40. Only run the washer with full loads, but don't overload it. An overloaded washer has to work harder and uses more energy.
41. Presoak or treat particularly dirty items to minimize total wash time.
42. Dry your laundry one load right after another to take advantage of leftover heat in the dryer.
43. Take clothes out of the dryer as soon as the dryer stops. This doesn't give wrinkles time to set and reduces the amount of time and energy spent ironing.
44. Clean lint vents before every load for maximum efficiency.
45. Try not to run an electric dryer without a full load inside, but don't overload it or you'll get excessive wrinkling.
46. Dry fabrics of similar weight together.
47. Don't overly dry clothes. It wastes energy, causes wrinkling and can shrink your clothes.
48. Make sure your dryer is well-vented to the outside.
49. Make sure your dryer does not accumulate moisture by monitoring the moisture-sensing control.
50. Iron low temperature fabrics first to reduce warm-up time and shut off the iron before finishing to take advantage of leftover heat.
51. Iron your clothes in large batches and turn off the iron if you're interrupted.
52. Keep your refrigerator temperature set between 36 and 40 degrees and your freezer set at 0 degrees for most efficient operation. You can check the temperature with an outdoor thermometer.
53. Letting frost build up to more than one-quarter of an inch hampers your freezer's efficiency.
54. Clean condenser coils (located on the back or bottom of your refrigerator) every three months with a vacuum cleaner to allow for maximum heat transfer and to keep the condenser from overworking.
55. Each time you open the door, the temperature inside rises and your refrigerator has to work harder and use more energy to get it back down. Don't leave the door open while making selection decisions and take as many items out at one time as possible.
56. Don't put uncovered liquids in your refrigerator. Not only can they absorb undesirable flavors, they give off vapors that add to the compressor's work load.
57. Let hot dishes cool before you put them in the refrigerator.
58. Your refrigerator works best when it's full, but be sure and leave a little space between items for proper air circulation.
59. Check door gaskets by placing a dollar bill in the door. If it pulls out easily, it's time for new gaskets.
60. Chest freezers are more efficient than upright models because they lose less cold air when you open them.
61. Locate your refrigerator away from your stove and other heat-producing appliances.
62. Remove perishable items and turn your refrigerator to a warmer setting if you're going to be gone for an extended period.
63. Choose a refrigerator that's just large enough for your family's needs. The larger the refrigerator, the more energy it uses.
64. When buying a new refrigerator, look for new energy-saving features such as a power-saver switch and improved insulation materials. These new features can cut down refrigerator energy consumption by as much as 15 percent.
65. Some newer refrigerators have a power-saver switch that controls a heating element imbedded in the walls of the cabinet. This heating element produces a small amount of heat to prevent condensation around the edges of the door, but often this condensation is no big deal. The power-saver switch allows you to turn the element off and save energy. If the condensation bothers you, you can always turn it back on.
66. Match the size of the pan you're using to the heating element on your range to avoid wasting energy.
67. It's not necessary to preheat the oven before you broil something. Preheating is also unnecessary for many types of baking. A good rule of thumb is that any food that takes more than a full hour to bake can be placed in a cold oven.
68. Measure the water you need for cooking carefully to avoid having to heat up more than you need. A lot of energy can be wasted heating up too much water when you put the kettle on.
69. Foods cooked in pots and pans with tight-fitting lids cook faster, using less energy.
70. You can save energy by planning ahead when cooking frozen foods. Take frozen foods out of the freezer and put them in the refrigerator two days ahead of time. They'll help cool the refrigerator as they thaw. Once they're thawed, take them out of the refrigerator and let them warm to room temperature before cooking.
71. It's cheaper to cook a whole meal in the oven than to use several range-top elements because the oven is well-insulated.
72. Keep the reflector pans under your range-top heating elements bright and clean. That way they'll reflect heat onto the bottoms of your pots and pans better.
73. Don't line your oven with aluminum foil. It can reduce your oven's efficiency by interfering with heat circulation and it also can fuse to the heating element, further reducing oven efficiency.
74. Consider using small appliances like toaster ovens and electric frying pans when cooking a small amount of food. On average, they use about one-third the energy it takes to heat your oven.
75. Pressure cookers can cut cooking times by as much as one-third.
76. Don't peek! Each time you open the door of your oven, the temperature drops 50 to 100 degrees.
77. Rearrange oven shelves before you turn the oven on. Doing it after the oven is hot not only wastes heat, but is an easy way to burn yourself.
78. Prepare baked goods in large batches.
79. Using a microwave oven can mean an energy savings of 50 to 75 percent for some foods.
80. When you clean your self-cleaning oven, do it after baking or broiling a meal to make use of leftover heat.
81. Several dishes within a 25-degree range in baking temperature can be baked together without significantly affecting how they turn out.
82. Don't use your oven to heat the kitchen. Not only is it expensive and inefficient, it's dangerous.
83. For most foods cooked longer than 45 minutes, you can turn off the oven for the last 10 minutes. The oven will retain the heat as long as you don't open the door.
84. Lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees when using ceramic, glass or stainless steel dishes. These materials hold the heat better, so you don't have to use as much energy when cooking with them.
85. Replace bulbs before they burn out for maximum efficiency. A blackened bulb produces less light while using the same amount of energy as a new bulb.
86. Long-life bulbs give off less light than standard bulbs of the same wattage. Only use them where the long-life feature is a real advantage, such as hard-to-reach places.
87. Check the wattage of all the bulbs in your house. In many cases you can substitute a lower wattage bulb for some of the ones that are already in use.
88. Think about getting solid state dimmer switches for some rooms in your house. Not only are they great for atmosphere, but they allow you to use only as much light as you need or want.
89. A room decorated in light colors requires less lighting than one decorated in dark colors because lighter colors reflect more light.
90. Choose lampshades that let as much light out as possible.
91. When buying light bulbs, remember that the wattage rating only tells you how much energy it takes for the bulb to work. The amount of brightness is measured in lumens, so you should compare lumen ratings and buy the maximum light for your dollar.
92. Fluorescent lights give off more lumens per watt than incandescent bulbs and they last 10 to 15 times as long. One 4-foot fluorescent tube provides more light than three 60-watt bulbs.
93. Put lamps in corners instead of against a flat wall whenever possible. That way the light will be reflected by two walls instead of just one.
94. Install photoelectric controls or timers on outside lights to make sure they're turned off during the day.
95. Don't leave lights on when you're not using them, especially in the summer. Not only is it a waste of energy, but light bulbs emit heat, which can make your air conditioner or cooler work harder.
A few more for good measure
96. Heating and cooling appliances should not be placed next to one another. Each makes the other work harder.
97. Many blow dryers draw as much power as an electric toaster and are used for longer periods of time. Try towel drying as an energy-saving alternative. In any case, avoid overly drying hair. Not only does it waste energy, it can damage your hair.
98. Many people with swimming pools tend to use their filtering system longer than necessary. Check the water more frequently and run the filter just long enough to maintain clarity.
99. Make sure the television is off if nobody is watching it.