Energy Saving Tips

Electronics

Computer

  • Turn off PCs, monitors, printers, copiers, and lights every night and when not being used. If you can' turn off the whole computer, turn off the monitor and printers.
  • If appropriate, use ink-jet printers - they consume 90% less energy than laser printers.
  • Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These "phantom" loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
  • Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.
  • Studies have shown that using rechargeable batteries for products like cordless phones and PDAs is more cost effective than throwaway batteries. If you must use throwaways, check with your trash removal company about safe disposal options.
  • An ENERGY STAR computer uses 70% less electricity than computers without this designation. If left inactive, ENERGY STAR computers enter a low-power mode and use 15 watts or less. Spending a large portion of time in low-power mode not only saves energy, but helps equipment run cooler and last longer.
  • To maximize savings with a laptop, put the AC adapter on a power strip that can be turned off (or will turn off automatically); the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop is not plugged into the adapter.
  • Common misconceptions sometimes account for the failure to turn off equipment. Many people believe that equipment lasts longer if it is never turned off. This incorrect perception carries over from the days of older mainframe computers.
  • ENERGY STAR computers and monitors save energy only when the power management features are activated, so make sure power management is activated on your computer.
  • There is a common misconception that screen savers reduce energy use by monitors; they do not. Automatic switching to sleep mode or manually turning monitors off is always the better energy-saving strategy.
  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Consider buying a laptop for your next computer upgrade; they use much less energy than desktop computers.

Kitchen

Dishwasher tips

  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120°F).
  • Scrape, don’t rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food.
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded, when you run it.
  • Don’t use the "rinse hold" on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.
  • Let your dishes air dry; if you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster.

    $ Long-Term Savings Tip: When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for the ENERGY STAR label to find a dishwasher that uses less water and 25% less energy than required by federal standards.

Refrigerator tips

  • Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same thing as an "anti-sweat" heater. Models with an anti-sweat heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature.
  • Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37° to 40°F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0°F.
  • To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don’t allow frost to build up more than one quarter of an inch.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you might consider buying a new unit.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Move your refrigerator out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils once a year unless you have a no-clean condenser model. Your refrigerator will use less energy with clean coils.

    $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Look for the ENERGY STAR when buying a new refrigerator. Select a new refrigerator that is the right size for your household. Top freezer models are more energy efficient than side-by-side models. Features like ice makers and water dispensers, while convenient, will increase energy use.

Other Kitchen Tips.

  • Be sure to place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it may never reach the faucet.
  • If you need to purchase a natural gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves natural gas because a pilot light is not burning continuously.
  • In natural gas appliances, look for blue flames; yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. Consult the manufacturer or your local utility.
  • Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
  • Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water; it's faster and it uses less energy.
  • Match the size of the pan to the heating element.
  • Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
  • Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens whenever it is convenient to do so. They will save energy by significantly reducing cooking time.

Laundry

Washer

  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
  • Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Look for the ENERGY STAR® and EnergyGuide labels. ENERGY STAR clothes washers clean clothes using 50% less energy than standard washers. Most full-sized ENERGY STAR washers use 18-25 gallons of water per load, compared to the 40 gallons used by a standard machine. ENERGY STAR models also spin the clothes better, resulting in less drying time.

Dryer

  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
  • Don't over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
  • Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
  • Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material, not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.
  • Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks. Air-drying is recommended by clothing manufacturers for some fabrics.
  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. Not only will this save energy, it will save wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.
  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: ENERGY STAR does not label clothes dryers because most of them use similar amounts of energy, which means there is little difference in energy use between models.

Lighting

Indoor Lighting Tips

  • Turn off the lights in any room you're not using, or consider installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
  • Use task lighting; instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it. For example, use fluorescent under-cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops under cabinets.
  • Consider three-way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary.
  • Use 4-foot fluorescent fixtures with reflective backing and electronic ballasts for your workroom, garage, and laundry areas.
  • Consider using 4-watt minifluorescent or electro-luminescent night lights. Both lights are much more efficient than their incandescent counterparts. The luminescent lights are cool to the touch.
  • Use CFLs in all the portable table and floor lamps in your home. Consider carefully the size and fit of these systems when you select them. Some home fixtures may not accommodate some of the larger CFLs.
  • Recessed downlights (also called recessed cans) are now available that are rated for contact with insulation (IC rated), are designed specifically for pin-based CFLs, and can be used in retrofits or new construction.
  • Take advantage of daylight by using light-colored, loose-weave curtains on your windows to allow daylight to penetrate the room while preserving privacy. Also, decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight.
  • If you have torchiere fixtures with halogen lamps, consider replacing them with compact fluorescent torchieres. Compact fluorescent torchieres use 60% to 80% less energy, can produce more light (lumens), and do not get as hot as the halogen torchieres. Halogen torchieres are a fire risk because of the high temperature of the halogen bulb.

Incandescent vs. Compact Fluorescent

Lumen Range Incandescent Watts Ave. KWh Cost KWh CFL Watt Range Ave. KWh Cost KWh Monthly Savings Yearly Savings
890 60 14.4 $1.32 13-18

3.2-4.3

$0.29-$0.39

$0.39- $1.03 $11.16-$12.36
1210 75 16.8 $1.54 18-22 4.3-5.3 $0.39-$0.49 $1.05-$1.15 $12.60-$13.80
1750 100 24 $2.20 23-28 5.5-6.7 $0.50-$0.62 $1.58-$1.70 $18.96-$20.40
2780 150 36 $3.31 30-38 7.2-9.1 $0.66-$0.84 $2.47-$2.65 $29.64-$31.80
*Average KWh is based on 8 hour daily usage for 30 days*
*Cost KWh is calculated with Sitka 9.2¢ KWh rate.*

Outdoor Lighting Tips

  • Use outdoor lights with a photocell unit or a motion sensor so they will turn on only at night or when someone is present. A combined photocell and motion sensor will increase your energy savings even more.
  • Turn off decorative outdoor natural gas lamps; just eight such lamps burning year-round use as much natural gas as it takes to heat an average-size home during an entire winter.
  • Exterior lighting is one of the best places to use CFLs because of their long life. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to buy a lamp with a cold weather ballast since standard CFLs may not work well below 40°F.
  • Also consider high-intensity discharge (also called HID) or low-pressure sodium lights.

Water Heating

  • Install a water heater inside your house.
    In Sitka's climate, some space heating is needed year round. Having your water heater inside the insulation envelope of your house will help heat your house.
  • Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.
  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 120°F provides comfortable hot water for most uses.
  • Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household.

    If your water heater is located outside the insulation envelope of your house:

  • Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Insulate your natural gas or oil hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the water heater's top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations; when in doubt, get professional help.
  • Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.
  • Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Some new water heaters have built-in heat traps.
  • Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer's advice.
  • Although most water heaters last 10-15 years, it's best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than 7 years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs.
  • If you are in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR® model to reduce hot water use.
  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Buy a new energy-efficient water heater. While it may cost more initially than a standard water heater, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance. Look for the EnergyGuide label.
  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Consider installing a drain water waste heat recovery system. A recent DOE study showed energy savings of 25% to about 30% for water heating using such a system.

  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Heat pump water heaters are very economical in some areas.

Heating

Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in your home. Typically, 56 percent of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling. What's more, heating and cooling systems in the United States together emit over a half billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, adding to global warming. They also generate about 24 percent of the nation's sulfur dioxide and 12 percent of the nitrogen oxides, the chief ingredients in acid rain.

No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system you have in your house, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy bills and your pollution output in half.

Heating

  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.
  • Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
  • Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
  • During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your southfacing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  • During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.
  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Select energy-efficient products when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. For furnaces, look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum is 78 percent AFUE, but there are ENERGY STAR models on the market that exceed 90 percent AFUE.

Ducts

One of the most important systems in your home, though it's hidden beneath your feet and over your head, may be wasting a lot of your energy dollars. Your home's duct system, a branching network of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings, carries the air from your home's furnace and central air conditioner to each room. Ducts are made of sheet metal, fiber glass, or other materials.

Unfortunately, many duct systems are poorly insulated or not insulated properly. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills. Insulating ducts that are in unconditioned spaces is usually very cost effective. If you are buying a new duct system, consider one that comes with insulation already installed.

Sealing your ducts to prevent leaks is even more important if the ducts are located in an unconditioned area such as an attic or vented crawl space. If the supply ducts are leaking, heated or cooled air can be forced out unsealed joints and lost. In addition, unconditioned air can be drawn into return ducts through unsealed joints. In the summer, hot attic air can be drawn in, increasing the load on the air conditioner. In the winter, your furnace will have to work longer to keep your house comfortable. Either way, your energy losses cost you money.

Although minor duct repairs are easy to do, ducts in unconditioned spaces should be sealed and insulated by qualified professionals using the appropriate sealing materials. Here are a few simple tips to help with minor duct repairs.

Duct Tips

  • Check your ducts for air leaks. First, look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.
  • If you use tape to seal your ducts, avoid cloth-backed, rubber adhesive duct tape, which tends to fail quickly. Researchers recommend other products to seal ducts: mastic, butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat approved tapes. Look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories logo.
  • Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating both.*
  • If your basement has been converted to a living area, hire a professional to install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms.
  • Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture buildup.
  • When doing ductwork, be sure to get professional help. Changes and repairs to a duct system should always be performed by a qualified professional.
  • Ducts that don't work properly can create serious, life-threatening carbon monoxide (CO) problems in the home. Install a CO monitor to alert you to harmful CO levels if you have a fuel-burning furnace, stove or other appliance, or an attached garage.
  • For new construction, consider placing ducts in conditioned space�space that is heated and cooled�instead of running ducts through unconditioned areas like the crawlspace or attic, which is less efficient.
  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: You can lose up to 60% of your heated air before it reaches the register if your ducts aren't insulated and they travel through unheated spaces such as the attic or crawl space. Get a qualified professional to help you insulate and repair ducts.

* Note: Water pipes and drains in unconditioned spaces could freeze and burst in the space if the heat ducts are fully insulated, because there would be no heat source to prevent the space from freezing in cold weather. However, using an electric heating tape wrap on the pipes can prevent this.

Other Heating Tips

Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are highly recommended in homes with fuel-burning appliances, such as natural gas furnaces, stoves, ovens, and water heaters, and fuel burning space heaters. An alarm signals homeowners if CO reaches potentially dangerous levels.

Programmable Thermostats

You can save as much as 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10-15 percent for 8 hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.

Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. As a result, the equipment doesn't operate as much when you are asleep or when the house or part of the house is not occupied. Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program. When shopping for a programmable thermostat, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR.

*Images and Information courtesy of Energy Star and US Department of Energy*

US Department of Energy

Energy Star

 

City and Borough of Sitka, Electric Department

105 Jarvis Street, Sitka, Alaska  99835
(907)747-4000, Emergency number (24 hours a day): 907-747-6634 Fax: 907-747-3208
Business Hours:  Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.