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Smart Energy is a new public awareness campaign to inform consumers about ways they can save money, save energy, and help keep energy prices down . Energy supply has become an issue in recent years, and public cooperation can help reduce this problem. With the demand for natural gas higher than current supply, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham urged all consumers to "focus on using  our natural gas resources wisely and to our own best benefit." 

The Department of Energy has launched this campaign by working with public power and investor-owned utilities on bill inserts, public service announcements and other methods to make consumers aware. They have also established a website full of tips on saving energy: www.energysavers.gov

The site includes resources you can use in an educational campaign. Similar resources can be found also at www.APPAnet.org

 

SOME TIPS TO HELP SAVE ENERGY

Creating and maintaining an energy efficient home can greatly reduce the cost of utility bills and benefit the environment by conserving our natural resources. 

National averages claim that 44% of the utility bill for the typical home is used for heating and cooling. Lighting, cooking and other appliances account for another 33% of usage. Water heating is responsible for 14% of the bill, and the refrigerator uses approximately 9%.

So, first of all, an overall evaluation of the home needs to be conducted to determine which parts of your house use the most energy. Find out where energy is being wasted and look for ways to start conserving. You can do this yourself or hire a professional to conduct an energy audit.

The following tips will help if you choose to do the evaluation yourself and will start you on your way to a more energy-efficient home and lower utility bills.

Poor insulation, drafty windows, frost buildup in the freezer, or dirty air filters on the furnace are just a few ways that energy might be wasted in your home.

TIPS

HEATING AND COOLING ENERGY TIPS

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The duct system in your home consists of a branched network of jointed tubes going through the ceiling, floor, and walls. This carries the air from the furnace or air conditioner to the different parts of the home. If the ducts are not properly insulated or sealed correctly, energy can be lost. Heated or cooled air can be forced out of leaking supply ducts through unsealed joints, or unconditioned air can be drawn into return ducts through unsealed joints. Insulating and sealing the ducts properly can prevent leaks and wasted energy.

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Clean or replace air filters on furnaces once a month or as needed. Keep the vents clean so air can flow freely.

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Set your thermostat as low as possible to remain comfortable in the winter and as high as possible in the summer. 

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Make sure furniture or other objects are not blocking air flow.

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Fireplaces are often a very inefficient heat source. The warm air literally goes up the chimney and escapes. As much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour is pushed outside. Cold air from outside replaces the lost air, which causes the central heating unit to work harder to warm the cold air. Consult a professional to see if there are ways to reduce heat loss.

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Use the proper size unit for the room. Using a bigger air conditioner is actually less efficient than using the smaller, properly sized unit.. The unit has to work harder when it is continually shutting on and off. Longer run times allow the unit to maintain a more constant room temperature.

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Programmable thermostats can adjust the temperature when you are away from home or at night when you are sleeping. The heater or air conditioner is pre-set to come on at certain times and programmed to shut off when you do not need it.

INSULATION AND PROTECTION FROM THE WEATHER

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Check to make sure you have enough insulation in the attic, exterior walls, crawl spaces, ceilings and floors, and basement walls. Insulation is measured in R-values--the higher the R-value, the less heat will be transferred through the walls or roof.

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The most cost-effective way to insulate your home is to insulate the attic. The recommended minimum for attics is about 12 inches (R38).

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Caulk, seal and weatherstrip every seam, crack or opening to the outside to reduce leaking air.

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Consider replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows with high performance glass to reduce heat loss. Make sure windows are sealed so no cracks or crevices allow air to escape.

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Blown insulation, if properly installed, is 30% more effective than batt insulation.

APPLIANCES

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When planning a purchase of a major appliance, remember to take into consideration the overall cost of operating the unit. Sometimes the more expensive appliance could end up saving you money long-term by using less energy.

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The federal government requires most appliances to display the bright yellow and black EnergyGuide label. Read the label.

Refrigerators and Freezers

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Keep the refrigerator and freezer frost free.

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Vacuum the condenser coils on the refrigerator to keep them free of buildup. Your refrigerator will run less with clean coils.

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Make sure the doors seal tight. If they aren't airtight, the seals may need replaced or the latch may need adjustment.

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Don't keep your refrigerator/freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are between 37*F to 40*F for the fresh food compartment and 5*F for the freezer.

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Refrigerators with the freezer on top are generally more efficient than with the freezer on the side.

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Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control.

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Cover liquids and foods when you place them in the refrigerator. They release moisture, therefore they make the refrigerator work harder.

Dishwasher

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Set the water heater to a lower temperature. Most of the energy used in a dishwasher is for heating the water.

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Wash full loads of dishes. Partial loads waste energy.

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Scrape dishes before placing them in the dishwasher to remove food pieces.

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Don't overload the dishwasher.

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During the summer, run the dishwasher in the morning or evening instead of the heat of the day to avoid putting extra heat and humidity in your home.

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The quick rinse cycle on some dishwashers can use up to 3-7 gallons of hot water each time you use it. Rinse the dishes under the faucet instead.

Washing Machine and Dryer

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Wash and dry full loads, or adjust the water level for the appropriate size load.

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Wash in cold or warm water instead of hot water. Heating the water consumes the most energy in a washing machine.

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Clean the lint filter after each load in the dryer. Make sure dryer vent is not blocked and preventing air flow. These will help prevent a fire and conserve energy.

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Hang clothes to dry if possible. Only use the dryer when necessary. Set the dryer on the shortest setting necessary to dry the clothing.

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Gas dryers cost less to operate than electric dryers.

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If purchasing a new dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that shuts off when the clothes are dry.

Stove

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Match the size of the pan to the burner.

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Use the microwave or a pressure cooker instead of the stove or oven. They reduce cooking time.

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Keep burners and reflectors clean.

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When boiling water, cover the pan. The water will boil faster and use less energy.

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Turn the stovetop burners or oven off before the food finishes cooking. The heating element will stay hot long enough to finish the cooking process.

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Use a toaster oven instead of the conventional oven. It uses a third to one-half the energy.

LIGHTING

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Turn off the lights when you aren't in the room.

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Focus the light where you need it most instead of lighting an entire room.

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Use 3-way lamps on lower setting when bright light is not needed.

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Compact fluorescent bulbs use less energy than incandescent bulbs.

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Utilize daylight by opening the shades during the sunshine.

WINDOWS

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Reduce heat loss by installing storm windows with weather stripping at all moveable joints.

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Make sure your windows consist of strong, durable materials.

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Repair and weatherize your current storm windows, if necessary.

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Close your curtains and shades at night, and open them during the day.

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Keep windows on the south side of your home clean for solar purposes.

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White window shades or curtains reflect heat away from the house. Use these in the summer.

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Awnings can help eliminate the heat from the sun coming in through the windows.

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Reflective film applied to windows can also reduce heat from the sun.

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When purchasing new windows, look for the type that suits your climate.

LANDSCAPING

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Trees provide shade, windbreak, and help reduce energy bills.

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Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides of your home provide shade through the summer and let the sun shine through in the winter.

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Landscape strategies depend on the climate where you live.

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Fences, walls, or other buildings help to provide a windbreak from the winter chill.

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Pavement reflects or absorbs heat, depending on whether it is light or dark in color.

WATER HEATING

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Water heating accounts for about 14% of your energy bill.

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The typical U.S. homeowner uses 37% of their hot water for showers. Cut down on this usage by using low-flow nonaerating shower heads and faucets, and take a lukewarm shower instead of a hot shower.

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Turn down the temperature settings on the washing machine cycles. Wash in cool water or warm.

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Turn down the temperature setting on the water heater.

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Consider purchasing a more efficient water heater. Solar heating conserves energy.

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Leave the faucet in the cold position when using small amounts of water. The hot position will draw water from the water heater, but it may never reach the faucet.

Properly maintain and upgrade your equipment, purchase energy efficient appliances, shut things off when not in use, insulate and weatherize.

You will save on your energy bills and help the environment and conserve our natural resources.

 

 

Updated September 02, 2016 .

 

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