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Energy and Water Conservation

Good planning and thoughtful every day habits can conserve significant amounts of energy and water. In the process of conserving, you also save money as an additional benefit. Keep these hints in mind as you select and use your home’s features:

Heating and Cooling

  • Maintain all your home’s systems in clean and good working order to prevent inconvenience and maximize efficiency. Arrange for a professional to service heat and air conditioning systems a minimum of once every two years.
  • Keep filters clean or replace them regularly.
  • Learn how to use your day/night thermostat for comfort and efficient energy use.
  • If you have a zoned system (more than one furnace and separate controls), think through operating schedules and temperature settings to maximize comfort and minimize energy consumption.
  • During cold days, open window coverings to allow the sun to warm your home. Close them when the sun begins to set.
  • Limit the use of your fireplace in extremely cold or windy weather when the chimney draft draws room air out at an extreme rate.
  • During the winter, humidifying the air in your home allows the air to retain more heat and is a general health benefit. Note: If condensation develops on your windows, you have taken a good thing too far and need to lower the setting on the humidifier. Avoid the use of the humidifier when you are using your air conditioner.
  • Ceiling fans cost little to operate, and the moving air allows you to feel comfortable at temperatures several degrees higher.
  • On hot days, close all windows and the window coverings on windows facing the sun to minimize solar heating and reduce demands on your air conditioner.
  • Whole house fans draw cooler outside air into the home through open windows, often creating a comfortable temperature. Avoid running a whole house fan at the same time as air conditioning.
  • Plan landscaping elements that support efficient energy use:
    - Deciduous trees provide shade during the summer and permit solar warming in winter.
    - Evergreen trees and shrubs can create a windbreak and reduce heating costs.
    - Position trees to shade the roof and still allow good airflow around the home.
    - Plant shrubs and trees to shade the air conditioner without obstructing airflow around the unit.
  • Keep the garage overhead doors closed.

Water Conservation and Water Heater

  • Set your water heater at 120 degrees if your dishwasher has a water booster heater. If not, set the water heater at 140 degrees.
  • Follow the steps outlined in the manufacturer’s directions for draining water from your water heater to remove accumulated hard-water scale that builds up inside the tank. Timing will depend on the nature of your water supply.
  • Correct plumbing leaks, running toilets, or dripping faucets ASAP.
  • Keep aerators clean.
  • If you have a swimming pool, consider using solar heating power.

Appliances

  • In selecting your home’s appliances, compare the information on the (yellow and black) Energy Guide sticker. Sometimes spending a bit more upfront can reduce operating costs over the appliance's life, conserving energy simultaneously.
  • Use cold water when operating your disposal. This not only saves hot water you pay to heat, but it also preserves the disposal motor.
  • When baking, preheat your oven just five minutes before you use it. When possible, bake several items at the same time or at least consecutively. Turn the oven off a few minutes before baking time is done.
  • Microwave rather than using the range when possible, especially during hot weather.
  • Run the dishwasher when it has a full load and use the air-dry cycle. Avoid regular use of the rinse and hold cycle.
  • Turn electric burners off a few minutes before cooking is complete.
  • Refrigerators with the freezer on top generally use significantly less energy than side-by-side models. Select an appropriate size for your needs; two small refrigerators use more energy than one large one.

Energy Conservation and Electrical

  • Use LED, compact fluorescent bulbs, or fluorescent tubes where possible. Incandescent bulbs are the least efficient source of light.
  • Turn lights and other electric items off when you finish using them or leave the room.

Maintenance

  • Caulk in dry weather when temperatures are moderate. Check all locations, such as:
    - Foundation penetrations (electrical, phone, water, cable tv, and gas line entrances)
    - Around fans and vents
    - Joints between door or window frames and siding
  • Check weatherstripping on all exterior doors and adjust as needed. Ensure those door thresholds are a good fit—most are adjustable.
  • After any activity in the attic, check that the insulation is evenly distributed.