Energy Saving Tips

Want to reduce your energy use and your electric bill? There are many things you can do to make your home more energy efficient. Here are a few ideas:

Locate and fix air leaks. The potential energy savings from reducing air leaks may range from 5% to 30% per year. Check for gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring, and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Check to see if air can flow through electrical outlets, switch plates, window frames, and baseboards. Inspect your doors and window frames. If you detect air flow or can see daylight around any of these, seal these air leaks with caulking or weather stripping.

Make sure insulation is adequate. Heat loss through the ceiling and walls in your home could be significant if the insulation levels are less than the recommended minimum. Determine whether openings for items such as pipes, ductwork, and chimneys are sealed. Any gaps should be sealed with an expanding foam caulk or some other permanent sealant.

Inspect heating equipment annually. Inspect your heating equipment annually or as recommended by the manufacturer. If the unit is more than 15 years old, you should consider replacing it with one of the newer, energy efficient units. This could considerably reduce your energy consumption, especially if the existing equipment is in poor condition.

Use lower wattage lights when possible. Energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of your electric bill. Examine the wattage size of the light bulbs in your house. You may have 100 watt (or larger) bulbs where 60 or 75 watts would do.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFs). Now you can buy a CF bulb for about $2. Not only do they last many times longer than regular bulbs, but they also use only 20% of the electricity. If you replace 10 65W bulbs with 13W CFs, you’ll get the same amount of light and, if each one is on an average of only 6 hours a day, you will save 94 kWh a month! At 50 cents a kWh, that’s $47 every month!

Upgrade to newer appliances. If you have a refrigerator or freezer that’s more than 10 years old, it might be using twice as much electricity as it should! A new appliance could pay for itself in one or two years. Look for appliances with the government’s Energy Star® label. Be sure to throw the appliance away in the landfill; salvaging it because it still works is not a good idea — these are just energy hogs that could be costing an extra $40+ a month to run!

Use cold water to wash clothes. If you have a washing machine at home, wash everything in cold water and save on your water-heating energy. Water temperature makes no difference to how clean your clothes get — that’s up to the type of laundry soap you use.

Put lights on a timer. Christmas lights, and even the little white lights can drain your electricity. The medium C7 bulbs usually come 25 to a string and if left on for 12 hours a day will use 63 kWh a month. Ten strings will use 630 kWh a month — that’s more than $300 a month! A single 100-light string of little white lights will use 18 kWh — $9 a month— if left on all day. So either go easy on the lights or put them on a timer to reduce the total time they use electricity.

Want more no cost or low-cost ideas? Visit the Energy Star and Alliance to Save Energy websites and read the “Energy Savers Tips for Alaska” booklet (PDF).