There are so many everyday things you can do to save energy in your home.
Read the practical tips below to help you save money on electricity or gas used for summer air conditioning and cooling, lighting, cooking, refrigeration, and doing laundry.
Summer Air Conditioning and Cooling Tips
Consider window fans, ceiling fans and whole-house fans, which use much less electricity than air conditioners.
Close your blinds, shades or draperies during the hottest part of the day.
Set air conditioners to the highest comfortable setting during the day.
Turn off your air conditioner when you leave home for an extended period of time.
Air conditioners work to remove humidity from the air, so wait to do moisture-making jobs like dishwashing, laundry and bathing either early in the morning or late at night.
If you are buying a new central air conditioning system or room air conditioner, make sure to check its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) or its Energy Efficiency Rating (EER). Central air conditioning units are graded using SEER and window units by (EER). The higher the ratio or rating the more efficient the unit. Look for an 11.0 or higher ratio or rating.
Make sure your window air conditioner is sized properly. Window air conditioners are designed to cool one room only. An oversized unit will not dehumidify the room properly and will use more energy than necessary.
When figuring the size you need, a rule of thumb is about 20 BTU per square foot of room.
Shade the outdoor air conditioning unit if possible. A unit in the sun will use up to 5 percent more energy than one in the shade.
In homes with central air conditioning, don't block air registers with furniture or drapes.
Keep heat-producing appliances such as lamps and televisions away from the thermostat.
Clean or replace the central air-conditioning filter monthly. Clean the filter in the window units as well. Its behind the front panel.
Turn off lights when you leave a room or when they are not needed. Much of the energy used is given off as heat.
Install energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. They give off less heat and use as much as 75 percent less energy than regular bulbs.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are available in a variety of creative shapes, color temperatures and brightnesses. Some are dimmable and can respond to motion sensors. A typical CFL outlasts 8 equivalent incandescent bulbs.
Keep bulbs and lighting fixtures clean for maximum lighting.
Pull the plug on instant-on appliances (such as televisions) when you don't plan to use them for a few days or more. They draw current even when switched off.
Use task lighting directed at a specific area instead of overhead or general lighting.
Use pots and pans with flat bottoms the same size as the burners. This prevents heat from escaping.
Covered pots or pans will boil or steam faster, allowing for lower temperature settings.
Turn off the surface element or oven a few minutes before cooking time is up. Electric stoves stay hot for a few minutes after they're turned off.
On a surface unit, start with high heat and lower the setting when the food starts to bubble or boil.
Make sure reflector pans beneath the stove's heating elements are bright and clean. They reflect heat onto the bottom of the cookware.
For cooking, use small appliances like a toaster oven or electric skillet. On average, they use half the energy of a full-size oven.
Cook outdoors, use a microwave oven or prepare cold meals to avoid heating up the kitchen and adding moisture to the air. Microwaves use less than half the power of a conventional oven and cook food in about one-fourth the time.
Don't line the oven racks with foil. It blocks heat flow and makes the oven work harder to cook food.
Do your heavy summer cooking in the early-morning or evening hours. Try to use the range top more, the oven less.
It takes energy to heat water so use as little as possible. Most frozen or fresh vegetables can be cooked in a quarter cup of water. Even eggs will cook in this reduced amount if the pan has a tight-fitting lid.
In the oven, cook as many dishes as possible at one time. Foods with cooking temperatures within 25 degrees can be cooked simultaneously at the same temperature.
Preheat the oven only when necessary. Many foods don't require it.
Don't peek into the oven. Each time the door is opened the temperature drops 25 to 50 degrees. Use a pressure cooker. It cuts cooking time to one-third that of conventional methods.
Refrigerators and Freezers
Refrigerators and freezers operate most efficiently when full but not overcrowded. Arrange contents in a way that allows air to circulate.
Make sure refrigerator and freezer doors fit tightly. If they don't, adjust or replace gaskets.
Don't open the doors unnecessarily.
If you're going away, remove perishable food from the refrigerator and turn the thermostat up a few degrees.
Don't put uncovered liquids in the refrigerator. They force the unit to work harder to remove the moisture.
Cool cooked food to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator.
Don't put foil on refrigerator shelves. It blocks cold airflow and makes the unit work harder to cool.
Don't locate the refrigerator or freezer near the stove, dishwasher or other heat-producing appliances.
Don't locate refrigerator in direct sunlight.
Set your refrigerator thermostat at 40 degrees and your freezer at 0 degrees.
If your refrigerator has an "efficiency" setting, make sure it is on. This will reduce the number of hours the unit needs to run.
Defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator.
Clean dust from refrigerator coils.
Don't store paper bags or anything else behind the refrigerator. They can cut airflow, making the refrigerator work harder.
Do laundry either early in the morning or at night. Try to avoid washing and drying clothes between 2 and 6 p.m.
Most of the energy in a washing machine is used to heat the water. Use warm or cold water when possible, and always rinse with cold water.
Don't use more detergent than you need. Too many suds may require extra rinsing.
Don't over wash. An 8-minute cycle is usually enough for even very soiled clothes.
Set the washing machine water level for the size of the load. If the machine doesn't have variable levels, wait until you have a full load.
Use the soak cycle. It can save energy and money.
Put full loads in the dryer, but don't overload. Overloading makes the machine less efficient and more costly to operate.
Use warm or cold settings to dry, especially for permanent press clothes.
Always keep the lint filter clean.
Don't over-dry clothes.
The dryer will run most efficiently when drying clothes of the same thickness.