Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home

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Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home Powered By Docstoc
 Tips on Saving
Energy & Money
    at Home
R    ight in your own home, you have the power to reduce
     energy demand, and when you reduce demand, you
cut the amount of resources, like coal and gas, needed to
make energy—that means you create less greenhouse gas
emissions, which keeps air cleaner for all of us… and saves
on your utility bills! Plus, reducing energy use increases
our energy security.

     1 Save Energy and Money Today
     2    Your Home’s Energy Use
     4    Insulation and Sealing Air Leaks
    10    Heating and Cooling
    16    Water Heating
    18    Windows
    20    Lighting
    22    Appliances
    29    Home Office and Home Electronics
    31    Driving and Car Maintenance
    32    Renewable Energy
    33    References
  This booklet shows you how easy it is to reduce your energy
  use at home and on the road. The easy, practical solutions for
  saving energy include tips you can use today, throughout your
  home—from the roof, walls, and insulation that enclose it to
  the appliances and lights inside. Please take a few moments to
  read the valuable tips in this booklet to start saving energy and
  money today.
  To learn more about U.S. Department of Energy programs
  in energy efficiency and renewable energy, visit the
  Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s web site
Save Energy and Money Today
D    id you know that the typical U.S.
     family spends about $1,900 a year
on home utility bills? Unfortunately, a
                                               Tips to Save Energy Today
                                                   Easy low-cost and no-cost
large portion of that energy is wasted.              ways to save energy.
And each year, electricity generated
                                             •	 Install	a	programmable	thermostat	
by fossil fuels for a single home puts
                                                to	keep	your	house	comfortably	
more carbon dioxide into the air than
                                                warm	in	the	winter	and	comfortably	
two average cars. And as for the road,
                                                cool	in	the	summer.	
transportation accounts for 67% of all
U.S. oil consumption. The good news          •	 Use	compact	fluorescent	light	bulbs	
is that there is a lot you can do to save       with	the	ENERGY	STAR®	label.
energy and money at home and in your         •	 Air	dry	dishes	instead	of	using	your	
car. Start making small changes today           dishwasher’s	drying	cycle.
(see sidebar). To cut your energy use up
                                             •	 Turn	off	your	computer	and	monitor	
to 25%, see the Long-Term Savings Tips
                                                when	not	in	use.
throughout this booklet.
                                             •	 Plug	home	electronics,	such	as	TVs	
The key to achieving these savings in           and	DVD	players,	into	power	strips;	
your home is a whole-house energy               turn	the	power	strips	off	when	the	
efficiency plan. To take a whole-house          equipment	is	not	in	use	(TVs	and	
approach, view your home as an energy           DVDs	in	standby	mode	still	use	
system with interdependent parts. For           several	watts	of	power).
example, your heating system is not just     •	 Lower	the	thermostat	on	your		
a furnace—it’s a heat-delivery system           hot	water	heater	to	120°F.
that starts at the furnace and delivers
heat throughout your home using a            •	 Take	short	showers	instead	of	
network of ducts. Even a top-of-the-            baths.
line, energy-efficient furnace will waste    •	 Wash	only	full	loads	of	dishes	and	
a lot of fuel if the ducts, walls, attic,       clothes.
windows, and doors are not properly
                                             •	 Drive	sensibly.	Aggressive	driving	
sealed and insulated. Taking a whole-
                                                (speeding,	rapid	acceleration	and	
house approach to saving energy ensures
                                                braking)	wastes	gasoline.
that dollars you invest to save energy are
spent wisely.                                •	 Look	for	the	ENERGY	STAR	label	
                                                                                            Save Energy and Money Today

                                                on	home	appliances	and	products.	
Energy-efficient improvements not only          ENERGY	STAR	products	meet	strict	
make your home more comfortable, they           efficiency	guidelines	set	by	the	
can yield long-term financial rewards.          U.S.	Department	of	Energy	and	the	
Reduced utility bills more than make up         Environmental	Protection	Agency.	
for the higher price of energy-efficient     •	 Visit	for	
appliances and improvements over their          more	energy-saving	ideas.
lifetimes. In addition, your home could
bring in a higher price when you sell.

                              Your Home’s Energy Use
                             T    he first step to taking a whole-
                                  house energy efficiency
                               approach is to find out which parts
                                                                                       • Check for open fireplace dampers.
                                                                                       • Make sure your appliances and heating
                                                                                         and cooling systems are properly
                               of your house use the most energy.                        maintained. Check your owner’s
                               A home energy audit will pinpoint                         manuals for the recommended
                               those areas and suggest the most                          maintenance.
                               effective measures for cutting your
                                                                                       • Study your family’s lighting needs
                               energy costs. You can conduct a
                                                                                         and use patterns, paying special
                               simple home energy audit yourself,
                                                                                         attention to high-use areas such as
                               contact your local utility, or call an
                                                                                         the living room, kitchen, and outside
                               independent energy auditor for a
                                                                                         lighting. Look for ways to use lighting
                               more comprehensive examination.
                                                                                         controls—like occupancy sensors,
                               For more information about home
                                                                                         dimmers, or timers—to reduce lighting
                               energy audits, including free tools and
                                                                                         energy use, and replace standard
                               calculators, visit www.energysavers.
                                                                                         (incandescent) light bulbs and fixtures
                               gov or
                                                                                         with compact or standard fluorescent
                                                Other                                  Formulating Your Plan
                                   Refrigeration 8%                                    After you have identified where your
                              Appliances                    Heating                    home is losing energy, assign priorities
                                  9%                                                   by asking yourself a few important
                             Computers &
                              Electronics                      Space
                                      Lighting        Water   Cooling                  • How much money do you spend on
                                         11%        Heating     12%                      energy?
                                                                                       • Where are your greatest energy losses?

                              How We Use Energy in Our Homes                           • How long will it take for an
                              Heating accounts for the biggest chunk of                  investment in energy efficiency to pay
                              a typical utility bill.                                    for itself in energy cost savings?
                              Source: 2007 Buildings Energy Data Book, Table 4.2.1.,
                              2005 energy cost data.
                                                                                       • Do the energy-saving measures
                                                                                         provide additional benefits that
                               Energy Auditing Tips                                      are important to you (for example,
                               • Check the insulation levels in your                     increased comfort from installing
                                 attic, exterior and basement walls,                     double-paned, efficient windows)?
                                 ceilings, floors, and crawl spaces.                   • How long do you plan to own your
Your Home’s Energy Use

                                 Visit for                          current home?
                                 instructions on checking your
                                 insulation levels.                                    • Can you do the job yourself or
                                                                                         will you need to hire a contractor?
                               • Check for holes or cracks around
                                 your walls, ceilings, windows,                        • What is your budget and how
                                 doors, light and plumbing fixtures,                     much time do you have to spend on
                                 switches, and electrical outlets                        maintenance and repair?
                                 that can leak air into or out of your
  Once you assign priorities to your energy
                                                           Tips for Finding a Contractor
  needs, you can form a whole house
  efficiency plan. Your plan will provide                  •	Ask	neighbors	and	friends	for	
  you with a strategy for making smart                       recommendations
  purchases and home improvements that                     •	Look	in	the	Yellow	Pages
  maximize energy efficiency and save the
                                                           •	Focus	on	local	companies
  most money.
                                                           •	Look	for	licensed,	insured	contractors
  Another option is to get the advice of
  a professional. Many utilities conduct                   •	Get	three	bids	with	details	in	writing
  energy audits for free or for a small                    •	Ask	about	previous	experience
  charge. For a fee, a professional                        •	Check	references
  contractor will analyze how well                         •	Check	with	the	Better	Business	Bureau
  your home’s energy systems work
  together and compare the analysis to
  your utility bills. He or she will use a
  variety of equipment such as blower                    effective energy improvements
  doors, infrared cameras, and surface                   and enhanced comfort and safety.
  thermometers to find leaks and drafts.                 A reputable contractor can also
  After gathering information about your                 calculate the return on your investment
  home, the contractor or auditor will give              in high-efficiency equipment
  you a list of recommendations for cost-                compared with standard equipment.

                                                                                                           Thermogram/photograph copyright 1997, Infraspection Institute, Inc., Shelburne, VT

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Your Home’s Energy Use

                     Cool                                                     Hot

Heat Loss from a House
A picture is this case, lost heating dollars. This thermal photograph shows heat leaking from
a house during those expensive winter heating months. The white, yellow, and red colors show heat
escaping. The red represents the area of the greatest heat loss.
                                       Insulation and Sealing Air Leaks
                                       C  hecking your home’s insulation is
                                          one of the fastest and most cost-
                                       effective ways to use a whole-house
                                                                                          First, check the insulation in your attic,
                                                                                          ceilings, exterior and basement walls,
                                       approach to reduce energy waste and                floors, and crawl spaces to see if it meets
                                       make the most of your energy dollars.              the levels recommended for your area.
                                       A good insulating system includes                  Insulation is measured in R-values—the
                                       a combination of products and                      higher the R-value, the better your
                                       construction techniques that protect               walls and roof will resist the transfer
                                       a home from outside hot or cold                    of heat. DOE recommends ranges of
                                       temperatures, protect it against air               R-values based on local heating and
                                       leaks, and control moisture. You can               cooling costs and climate conditions in
                                       increase the comfort of your home                  different areas of the nation. The map
                                       while reducing your heating and                    and chart on pages 6 and 7 show the
                                       cooling needs by investing in proper               DOE recommendations for your area.
                                       insulation and sealing air leaks.                  State and local code minimum insulation
                                                                                          requirements may be less than the DOE
                                                                                          recommendations, which are based on


Insulation and Sealing Air Leaks


                                                                           Crawl space

                                       Where to Insulate
                                       Adding insulation in the areas shown above may be the best way to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
                                       Insulate either the attic floor or under the roof. Check with a contractor about crawl space or basement
cost effectiveness. For more customized          Should I Insulate My Home?
insulation recommendations, visit our
site,, look for             Insulate your home when:
Insulation and check out the Zip Code            •	 You	have	an	older	home	and	
Insulation Calculator. This tool provides           haven’t added insulation. Only 20%
insulation levels for your new or existing          of homes built before 1980 are
home based on your zip code and other               well insulated.
basic information about your home.               •	 You	are	uncomfortably	cold	in	the	
Although insulation can be made from                winter or hot in the summer—
a variety of materials, it usually comes            adding insulation creates a more
in four types; each type has different              uniform temperature and increases
characteristics.                                    comfort.
                                                 •	 You	build	a	new	home,	addition,	or	
Rolls and batts—or blankets—are                     install new siding or roofing.
flexible products made from mineral
                                                 •	 You	pay	high	energy	bills.
fibers, such as fiberglass and rock wool.
                                                 •	 You	are	bothered	by	noise	from	
They are available in widths suited to              outside—insulation muffles sound.
standard spacings of wall studs and attic
or floor joists: 2x4 walls can hold R-13
                                                Insulation Tips
or R-15 batts; 2x6 walls can have R-19          • Consider factors such as your
or R-21 products.                                 climate, building design, and budget
Loose-fill insulation—usually made                when selecting insulation R-values
of fiberglass, rock wool, or cellulose in         for your home.
the form of loose fibers or fiber pellets,      • Use higher density insulation on
it should be blown into spaces using              exterior walls, such as rigid foam
special pneumatic equipment. The                  boards, in cathedral ceilings and on
blown-in material conforms readily to             exterior walls.
building cavities and attics. Therefore,        • Ventilation helps with moisture
loose-fill insulation is well suited for          control and reducing summer
places where it is difficult to install other     cooling bills. Attic vents can be
types of insulation.                              installed along the entire ceiling
Rigid foam insulation—foam insulation             cavity to help ensure proper airflow
typically is more expensive than fiber            from the soffit to the attic to make a
insulation. But it’s very effective in            home more comfortable and energy
                                                                                               Insulation and Sealing Air Leaks

buildings with space limitations and              efficient. Do not ventilate your
where higher R-values are needed. Foam            attic if you have insulation on the
insulation R-values range from R-4 to             underside of the roof. Check with a
R-6.5 per inch of thickness, which is up to       qualified contractor.
2 times greater than most other insulating      • Recessed light fixtures can be a
materials of the same thickness.                  major source of heat loss, but you
                                                  need to be careful how close you
Foam-in-place insulation—this type
                                                  place insulation next to a fixture
can be blown into walls and reduces air
                                                  unless it is marked IC—designed
leakage, if blown into cracks, such as
                                                  for direct insulation contact. Check
around window and door frames.
                                                  your local building codes for
                                                  recommendations. See Lighting
                                                  for more about recessed cans.
                                       • As specified on the product                              probably benefit by adding more. Most
                                         packaging, follow the product                            U.S. homes should have between R-30
                                         instructions on installation and wear                    and R-60 insulation in the attic. Don’t
                                         the proper protective gear when                          forget the attic trap or access door.
                                         installing insulation.                                   If your attic has enough insulation and
                                                                                                  your home still feels drafty and cold in
                                       $ Long-Term Savings Tip                                    the winter or too warm in the summer,
                                       • One of the most cost-effective
                                                                                                  chances are you need to add insulation to
                                         ways to make your home more
                                                                                                  the exterior walls as well. This is a more
                                         comfortable year-round is to add
                                                                                                  expensive measure that usually requires
                                         insulation to your attic.
                                                                                                  a contractor, but it may be worth the cost
                                       Adding insulation to the attic is                          if you live in a very hot or cold climate.
                                       relatively easy and very cost effective.                   If you replace the exterior siding on
                                       To find out if you have enough attic                       your home, you should consider adding
                                       insulation, measure the thickness of                       insulation at the same time.
                                       the insulation. If it is less than R-30
                                                                                                  You may also need to add insulation
                                       (11 inches of fiber glass or rock wool
                                                                                                  to your crawl space or basement. Check
                                       or 8 inches of cellulose), you could
                                                                                                  with a professional contractor.

                                                     U.S. Department of Energy Recommended* Total R-Values
                                                                  for New Wood-Framed Houses

                                         4                                                                                                     6

                                                       5                                                                 5

                                                               2                                                  3

Insulation and Sealing Air Leaks


                                       All of Alaska in Zone 7 except for the         Zone 1 includes Hawaii,
                                       following boroughs in Zone 8:                  Guam, Puerto Rico and the
                                                                                      Virgin Islands              How Much Insulation
                                       Bethel                   Northwest Arctic
                                       Dellingham               Southeast Fairbanks
                                                                                                                  Does My Home Need?
                                       Fairbanks N. Star        Wade Hampton                                      For insulation recommendations
                                       Nome                     Yukon-Koyukuk                                     tailored to your home, visit the DOE Zip
                                       North Slope                                                                Code Insulation Calculator at www.ornl.

                                       * These recommendations are cost-effective levels of insulation based on the best available information
                                         on local fuel and materials costs and weather conditions. Consequently, the levels may differ from
                                         current local building codes.
New Construction                                                                  Today, new products are on the
For new homes in most climates, you                                               market that provide both insulation
will save money and energy if you                                                 and structural support and should be
install a combination of cavity insulation                                        considered for new home construction
and insulative sheathing. Cavity                                                  or additions. Structural insulated panels,
insulation can be installed at levels                                             known as SIPs, and masonry products
up to R-15 in a 2 in. x 4 in. wall and                                            like insulating concrete forms are
up to R-21 in a 2 in. x 6 in. wall. The                                           among these. Some homebuilders are
insulative sheathing, used in addition to                                         even using an old technique borrowed
this cavity insulation, helps to reduce                                           from the pioneers: building walls using
the energy that would otherwise be                                                straw bales. Check online at www.
lost through the wood frame. The                                         for more information
table below shows the recommended                                                 on structural insulation.
combinations. For example, in Zone                                                Radiant barriers (in hot climates),
5, you could use either a 2x4 wall with                                           reflective insulation, and foundation
R-13 or a 2x6 wall with R-21. For either                                          insulation should all be considered for
of those two walls, you should also use                                           new home construction. Check with
an inch of insulative sheathing that has                                          your contractor for more information
an R-value of R-5 or R-6.                                                         about these options.

                                                                        Cathedral Ceiling
                                     Electric Furnace
              Heat Pump

                          Fuel Oil




  1                                                 R30 to R49   R22 to R38             R13 to R15     None          R13

  2                                                  R30 to R60   R22 to R38             R13 to R15     None          R13

  2                                                    R30 to R60   R22 to R38             R13 to R15     None        R19 - R25

  3                                                  R30 to R60   R22 to R38             R13 to R15     None          R25

  3                                                    R30 to R60   R22 to R38             R13 to R15   R2.5 to R5      R25

  4                                                  R38 to R60   R30 to R38             R13 to R15   R2.5 to R6    R25 - R30
                                                                                                                                       Insulation and Sealing Air Leaks

  4                                                    R38 to R60   R30 to R38             R13 to R15   R5 to R6      R25 - R30

  5                                                  R38 to R60   R30 to R38             R13 to R15   R2.5 to R6    R25 - R30

  5                                                    R38 to R60   R30 to R60             R13 to R21   R5 to R6      R25 - R30

  6                                                 R49 to R60   R30 to R60             R13 to R21   R5 to R6      R25 - R30

  7                                                 R49 to R60   R30 to R60             R13 to R21   R5 to R6      R25 - R30

  8                                                 R49 to R60   R30 to R60             R13 to R21   R5 to R6      R25 - R30

                                       Sources of Air Leaks in Your Home
                                       Areas that leak air into and out of your home cost you lots of money. Check the areas listed below.

                                       1   Dropped ceiling          5   Water and furnace flues          9 Window frames
                                       2   Recessed light           6   All ducts                       10 Electrical outlets and switches
                                       3   Attic entrance           7   Door frames                     11 Plumbing and utility access
                                       4   Sill plates              8   Chimney flashing
Insulation and Sealing Air Leaks

                                       Sealing Air Leaks                                    Tips for Sealing Air Leaks
                                       Warm air leaking into your home                      • First, test your home for air tightness.
                                       during the summer and out of your                      On a windy day, carefully hold a lit
                                       home during the winter can waste a                     incense stick or a smoke pen next
                                       lot of your energy dollars. One of the                 to your windows, doors, electrical
                                       quickest dollar-saving tasks you can                   boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical
                                       do is caulk, seal, and weatherstrip all                outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches,
                                       seams, cracks, and openings to the                     and other locations where there is a
                                       outside. You can save on your heating                  possible air path to the outside. If the
                                       and cooling bill by reducing the air                   smoke stream travels horizontally, you
                                       leaks in your home.                                    have located an air leak that may need
                                                                                              caulking, sealing, or weatherstripping.
• Caulk and weatherstrip doors and          Fans and Vents               Electric Outlets
  windows that leak air.                          4%                            2%
• Caulk and seal air leaks where                    Windows
  plumbing, ducting, or electrical                    10%                   Floors, Walls,
                                             Doors                           and Ceiling
  wiring penetrates through walls,                                               31%
  floors, ceilings, and soffits over
  cabinets.                                     Plumbing
                                              Penetrations                       Ducts
• Install foam gaskets behind outlet               13%        Fireplace          15%
  and switch plates on walls.                                    14%
• Look for dirty spots in your
  insulation, which often indicate
  holes where air leaks into and out           How Does the Air Escape?
  of your house. You can seal the holes        Air infiltrates into and out of your home through
  with low-expansion spray foam made           every hole and crack. About one-third of this
  for this purpose.                            air infiltrates through openings in your ceilings,
                                               walls, and floors.
• Look for dirty spots on your ceiling
  paint and carpet, which may indicate          • Replacing existing door bottoms
  air leaks at interior wall/ceiling joints       and thresholds with ones that have
  and wall/floor joists. These joints can         pliable sealing gaskets is a great way
  be caulked.                                     to eliminate conditioned air leaking
• Install storm windows over single-pane          out from underneath the doors.
  windows or replace them with more             • Fireplace flues are made from metal,
  efficient windows, such as double-              and over time repeated heating and
  pane. See Windows on page 18 for                cooling can cause the metal to warp
  more information.                               or break, creating a channel for hot
• When the fireplace is not in use, keep          or cold air loss. Inflatable chimney
  the flue damper tightly closed. A               balloons are designed to fit beneath
  chimney is designed specifically for            your fireplace flue during periods
  smoke to escape, so until you close it,         of non-use. They are made from
  warm air escapes—24 hours a day!                several layers of durable plastic and
• For new construction, reduce exterior           can be removed easily and reused
  wall leaks by installing house wrap,            hundreds of times. Should you
  taping the joints of exterior sheathing,        forget to remove the balloon before
  and comprehensively caulking and                making a fire, the balloon will
                                                                                                        Insulation and Sealing Air Leaks

  sealing the exterior walls.                     automatically deflate within seconds
• Use foam sealant around larger gaps             of coming into contact with heat.
  around windows, baseboards, and
  other places where warm air may be
  leaking out.
• Kitchen exhaust fan covers can
  keep air from leaking in when the
  exhaust fan is not in use. The covers
  typically attach via magnets for ease of

                           Heating and Cooling
                       H        eating and cooling your home
                                uses more energy and drains
                           more energy dollars than any other
                                                                      if in doubt about how to perform
                                                                      this task, call a professional.
                                                                    • Place heat-resistant radiator
                           system in your home. Typically, 43%        reflectors between exterior walls
                           of your utility bill goes for heating      and the radiators.
                           and cooling. What’s more, heating
                                                                    • Turn off kitchen, bath, and other
                           and cooling systems in the United
                                                                      exhaust fans within 20 minutes after
                           States together emit 150 million tons
                                                                      you are done cooking or bathing;
                           of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
                                                                      when replacing exhaust fans,
                           each year, adding to global climate
                                                                      consider installing high-efficiency,
                           change. They also generate about
                                                                      low-noise models.
                           12% of the nation’s sulfur dioxide and
                           4% of the nitrogen oxides, the chief     • During the heating season, keep the
                           ingredients in acid rain.                  draperies and shades on your south-
                                                                      facing windows open during the day
                           No matter what kind of heating,            to allow the sunlight to enter your
                           ventilation, and air-conditioning          home and closed at night to reduce
                           system you have in your house, you         the chill you may feel from cold
                           can save money and increase your           windows.
                           comfort by properly maintaining
                                                                    • During the cooling season, keep the
                           and upgrading your equipment. But
                                                                      window coverings closed during the
                           remember, an energy-efficient furnace
                                                                      day to prevent solar gain.
                           alone will not have as great an impact
                           on your energy bills as using the        $ Long-Term Savings Tips
                           whole-house approach. By combining       • Select energy-efficient products
                           proper equipment maintenance and           when you buy new heating and
                           upgrades with appropriate insulation,      cooling equipment. Your contractor
                           air sealing, and thermostat settings,      should be able to give you energy
                           you can cut your energy use for            fact sheets for different types,
                           heating and cooling, and reduce            models, and designs to help you
                           environmental emissions, from 20%
                           to 50%.
                                                                                                No Heating System
                           Heating and Cooling Tips                                                    1%
                           • Set your thermostat as low as is              Other
                             comfortable in the winter and                  9%
                             as high as is comfortable in the                                       Natural Gas
                             summer.                                                                   53%
                           • Clean or replace filters on furnaces             30%
Heating and Cooling

                             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.       Household Heating Systems
                                                                    Although several different types of fuels are
                           • Bleed trapped air from hot-water       available to heat our homes, more than half of us
                             radiators once or twice a season;      use natural gas.
  compare energy usage. For furnaces,        will have to work longer to keep your
  look for high Annual Fuel Utilization      house comfortable. Either way, your
  Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The             energy losses cost you money.
  national minimum is 78% AFUE, but          Although minor duct repairs are
  there are ENERGY STAR models on            easy to make, ducts in unconditioned
  the market that exceed 90% AFUE.           spaces should be sealed and insulated
• For air conditioners, look for a high      by qualified professionals using
  Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio           appropriate sealing materials. Here
  (SEER). The current minimum is 13          are a few simple tips to help with
  SEER for central air conditioners.         minor duct repairs.
  ENERGY STAR models are 14
  SEER or more.                              Duct Tips
                                             • Check your ducts for air leaks.
Air Ducts                                      First, look for sections that should
One of the most important systems in           be joined but have separated and
your home, though it’s hidden beneath          then look for obvious holes.
your feet and over your head, may be         • If you use tape to seal your ducts,
wasting a lot of your energy dollars.          avoid cloth-backed, rubber adhesive
Your home’s duct system, a branching           duct tape, which tends to fail
network of tubes in the walls, floors, and     quickly. Researchers recommend
ceilings, carries the air from your home’s     other products to seal ducts: mastic,
furnace and central air conditioner to         butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat-
each room. Ducts are made of sheet             approved tapes. Look for tape with
metal, fiberglass, or other materials.         the Underwriters Laboratories logo.
Unfortunately, many duct systems             • Remember that insulating ducts
are poorly insulated or not insulated          in the basement will make the
properly. Ducts that leak heated air           basement colder. If both the
into unheated spaces can add hundreds          ducts and the basement walls are
of dollars a year to your heating and          uninsulated, consider insulating
cooling bills. Insulating ducts that are       both. Water pipes and drains in
in unconditioned spaces is usually very        unconditioned spaces could freeze
cost effective. If you are buying a new        and burst in the space if the heat
duct system, consider one that comes           ducts are fully insulated, because
with insulation already installed.             there would be no heat source to
Sealing your ducts to prevent leaks is         prevent the space from freezing in
even more important if the ducts are           cold weather. However, using an
located in an unconditioned area such          electric heating tape wrap on the
as an attic or vented crawl space. If          pipes can prevent this. Check with a
the supply ducts are leaking, heated           professional contractor.
or cooled air can be forced out of
                                                                                            Heating and Cooling

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

                           Ducts—Out-of-Sight, Out-of-Mind
                           The unsealed ducts in your attic and crawlspaces lose air, and uninsulated ducts lose heat, wasting
                           energy and money.

                           • If your basement has been converted                 and repairs to a duct system should
                              to a living area, hire a professional              always be performed by a qualified
                              to install both supply and return                  professional.
                              registers in the basement rooms.                 • Ducts that don’t work properly can
                           • Be sure a well-sealed vapor                         create serious, life-threatening carbon
                              barrier exists on the outside of                   monoxide (CO) problems in the
                              the insulation on cooling ducts to                 home. Install a CO monitor to alert
                              prevent moisture buildup.                          you to harmful CO levels if you have
                           • When doing ductwork, be sure to                     a fuel-burning furnace, stove or other
                              get professional help. Changes                     appliance, or an attached garage.

                                                                               $ Long-Term Savings Tip
                            Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector                 • You can lose up to 60% of your heated
                                                                                 air before it reaches the register if
Heating and Cooling

                             Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are
                             highly recommended in homes with                    your ducts aren’t insulated and travel
                             fuel-burning appliances, such as natural            through unheated spaces such as the
                             gas furnaces, stoves, ovens, and water              attic or crawlspace. Get a qualified
                             heaters, and fuel-burning space heaters.            professional to help you insulate
                             An alarm signals homeowners if CO                   and repair ducts.
                             reaches potentially dangerous levels.

Heat Pumps                                   the same house that does not include
Heat pumps are the most efficient form       passive solar design.
of electric heating in moderate climates,    Passive solar design can also help reduce
providing three times more heating than      your cooling costs. Passive solar cooling
the equivalent amount of energy they         techniques include carefully designed
consume in electricity. There are three      overhangs, windows with reflective
types of heat pumps: air-to-air, water       coatings, and reflective coatings on
source, and ground source. They collect      exterior walls and the roof.
heat from the air, water, or ground
outside your home and concentrate it for     A passive solar house requires careful
use inside. Heat pumps do double duty        design and site orientation, which
as a central air conditioner. They can       depend on the local climate. So, if you
also cool your home by collecting the        are considering passive solar design for
heat inside your house and effectively       new construction or a major remodeling,
pumping it outside. A heat pump can          you should consult an architect familiar
trim the amount of electricity you use for   with passive solar techniques.
heating by as much as 30% to 40%.            Solar Tips
Heat Pump Tips                               • Keep all south-facing glass clean.
• Do not set back the heat pump’s            • Make sure that objects do not block
  thermostat manually if it causes the         the sunlight shining on concrete slab
  electric resistance heating to come on.      floors or heat-absorbing walls.
  This type of heating, which is often
  used as a backup to the heat pump,         Natural Gas and Oil Heating
  is more expensive.                         If you plan to buy a new heating system,
                                             ask your local utility or state energy
• Clean or change filters once a month       office for information about the latest
  or as needed, and maintain the             technologies available to consumers.
  system according to manufacturer’s         They can advise you about more
  instructions.                              efficient systems on the market today.
                                             For example, many newer models
$ Long-Term Savings Tip                      incorporate designs for burners and
• If you use electricity to heat your        heat exchangers that result in higher
  home and live in a moderate climate,       efficiencies during operation and reduce
  consider installing an energy- efficient   heat loss when the equipment is off.
  heat pump system.                          Consider a sealed combustion furnace;
Solar Heating and Cooling                    they are both safer and more efficient.
Using passive solar design techniques to     Check the shopping guide in the back
heat and cool your home can be               of this booklet for additional information
both environmentally friendly and            on how to understand heating system
cost effective. Passive solar heating        ratings.
                                                                                             Heating and Cooling

techniques include placing larger,           $ Long-Term Savings Tip
insulated windows on south-facing walls      • Install a new energy-efficient furnace
and locating thermal mass, such as a           to save money over the long term.
concrete slab floor or a heat-absorbing        Look for the ENERGY STAR and
wall, close to the windows. In many            EnergyGuide labels.
cases, your heating costs could be more
than 50% lower than the cost of heating
                                                Hot Winter Tip
                                           Using a programmable
                                thermostat, you can automatically
                                   turn down your heat at night or
                                       when you are not at home.

                                                                                Cool Summer Tip
                                                                                In the summer, you can save
                                                                                money by automatically turning
                                                                                your air-conditioning up at night or
                                                                                when you are at work.

                           Programmable Thermostats                   conditioner that’s too big for the area
                           You can save as much as 10% a year         it is supposed to cool will perform less
                           on your heating and cooling bills by       efficiently and less effectively than a
                           simply turning your thermostat back        smaller, properly sized unit.
                           10% to 15% for 8 hours. You can do         Sizing is equally important for central
                           this automatically by installing an        air-conditioning systems, which need to
                           automatic setback or programmable          be sized by professionals. If you have
                           thermostat.                                a central air system in your home, set
                           Using a programmable thermostat, you       the fan to shut off at the same time as
                           can adjust the times you turn on the       the cooling unit (compressor). In other
                           heating or air-conditioning according      words, don’t use the system’s central fan
                           to a preset schedule. As a result, the     to provide circulation, but instead use
                           equipment doesn’t operate as much          circulating fans in individual rooms.
                           when you are asleep or when the            Cooling Tips
                           house, or a part of it, is not occupied.   • Whole-house fans help cool your home
                           Programmable thermostats can store           by pulling cool air through the house
                           and repeat multiple daily settings           and exhausting warm air through the
                           (six or more temperature settings a          attic.
                           day) that you can manually override        • Set your thermostat as high as
                           without affecting the rest of the daily      comfortably possible in the summer.
                           or weekly program. When shopping for         The smaller the difference between the
                           a programmable thermostat, be sure to        indoor and outdoor temperatures, the
                           look for the ENERGY STAR label.
Heating and Cooling

                                                                        lower your overall cooling bill will be.
                                                                      • Avoid setting your thermostat at a
                           Air Conditioners                             colder setting than normal when you
                           Buying a bigger room air-conditioning        turn on your air conditioner. It will
                           unit won’t necessarily make you feel         not cool your home any faster and
                           more comfortable during the hot              could result in excessive cooling and,
                           summer months. In fact, a room air           therefore, unnecessary expense.

Buildings and Trees—Natural Partners
Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides will help keep your house cool in the summer and
allow sun to shine in the windows in the winter.

• Consider using an interior fan in                      of this booklet will help you find the
  conjunction with your window air                       right size unit for your needs.
  conditioner to spread the cooled air                 • Consider installing a whole-
  more effectively through your home                     house fan or evaporative cooler if
  without greatly increasing your power                  appropriate for your climate. Check
  use.                                                   out for more
• Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near                    information on efficient cooling.
  your air-conditioning thermostat.
  The thermostat senses heat from                      Landscaping
  these appliances, which can cause                    Landscaping is a natural and beautiful
  the air conditioner to run longer than               way to keep your home cool in
  necessary.                                           summer and reduce your energy bills.
                                                       A well-placed tree, shrub, or vine
• Plant trees or shrubs to shade air
  conditioning units but not to block the              can deliver effective shade, act as a
  airflow. Place your room air conditioner             windbreak, and reduce your energy
  on the north side of the house. A unit               bills. Carefully positioned trees can
  operating in the shade uses as much as               save up to 25% of the energy a typical
  10% less electricity than the same one               household uses for energy. Research
  operating in the sun.                                shows that summer daytime air
                                                       temperatures can be 3° to 6° cooler
                                                                                                              Heating and Cooling

$ Long-Term Savings Tips                               in tree-shaded neighborhoods than in
• If your air conditioner is old, consider             treeless areas.
  purchasing a new, energy-efficient                   A lattice or trellis with climbing
  model. You could save up to 50% on                   vines, or a planter box with trailing
  your utility bill for cooling. Look for              vines, shades the home’s perimeter
  the ENERGY STAR and EnergyGuide                      while admitting cooling breezes to the
  labels. The shopping guide in the back               shaded area.
                     Water Heating
                           ater heating is the third largest
                           energy expense in your home.
                           It typically accounts for about
                     12% of your utility bill.
                     There are four ways to cut your water
                     heating bills: use less hot water, turn
                     down the thermostat on your water
                     heater, insulate your water heater, or
                     buy a new, more efficient model.

                     Water Heating Tips
                     • 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.
                     • 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             Keep Your Energy Bills Out of Hot Water
                                                                  Insulate your water heater to save energy and money.
                       heater’s top, bottom, thermostat,
                       or burner compartment. Follow the
                       manufacturer’s recommendations;
                       when in doubt, get professional help.      • Install heat traps on the hot and cold
                                                                    pipes at the water heater to prevent
                     • Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and
                                                                    heat loss. Some new water heaters
                       cold water pipes connected to the
                                                                    have built-in heat traps.
                       water heater.
                                                                  • Drain a quart of water from your
                     • If you are in the market for a new
                                                                    water tank every 3 months to remove
                       dishwasher or clothes washer,
                                                                    sediment that impedes heat transfer
                       consider buying an efficient,
Water Heating

                                                                    and lowers the efficiency of your
                       water-saving ENERGY STAR
                                                                    heater. The type of water tank you
                       model to reduce hot water use. See
                                                                    have determines the steps to take, so
                       Appliances on page 22 for more
                                                                    follow the manufacturer’s advice.

                                                     Average Hot Water Use
• Although most water heaters last
                                                    Activity        Gallons per Use
  10–15 years, it’s best to start shopping
  now for a new one if yours is more           Clothes washing             32
  than 7 years old. Doing some research        Showering                   20
  before your heater fails will enable
                                               Bathing                     20
  you to select one that most
  appropriately meets your needs.              Automatic                   12
$ Long-Term Savings Tips                       Preparing food               5
• Buy a new energy-efficient water
                                               Hand dishwashing             4
  heater. While it may cost more initially
  than a standard water heater, the          Source: ACEEE
  energy savings will continue during
  the lifetime of the appliance. Look for
  the ENERGY STAR and EnergyGuide            More than 1.5 million homes and
  labels.                                    businesses in the United States
• Look for the ENERGY STAR label on          have invested in solar water heating
  efficient water heaters in the following   systems, and surveys indicate that
  categories: high efficiency gas non-       more than 94% of these customers
  condensing, gas condensing, electric       consider the systems a good
  heat pump, gas tankless, and solar.        investment. Solar water heating
                                             systems are also good for the
• Consider installing a drain water waste    environment. Solar water heaters
  heat recovery system. A recent DOE         avoid the greenhouse gas emissions
  study showed energy savings of 25%         associated with electricity production.
  to about 30% for water heating using       During a 20-year period, one solar
  such a system.                             water heater can avoid more than 50
• Consider natural gas on-demand or          tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
  tankless water heaters. Researchers        When shopping for a solar water
  have found savings can be up to 30%        heater, look for the ENERGY STAR
  compared with a standard natural gas       label and for systems certified by
  storage tank water heater.                 the Solar Rating and Certification
• Heat pump water heaters can be very        Corporation or the Florida Solar
  cost-effective in some areas.              Energy Center.

                                             $ Long-Term Savings Tip
Solar Water Heaters                          • Visit the Database of State Incentives
If you heat water with electricity,            for Renewables & Efficiency Web
have high electric rates, and have an          site ( to see if
unshaded, south-facing location (such          you might qualify for tax credits
as a roof) on your property, consider          or rebates for buying a solar water
installing an ENERGY STAR qualified            heater.
solar water heater. The solar units are
environmentally friendly and can now be
                                                                                             Water Heating

installed on your roof to blend with the
architecture of your house.

           W          indows can be one
                      of your home’s most
                      attractive features.
               Windows provide views,
               daylighting, ventilation, and
               solar heating in the winter.
               Unfortunately, they can also
               account for 10% to 25% of
               your heating bill. During the
               summer, your air conditioner
               must work harder to cool
               hot air from sunny windows.
               Install ENERGY STAR
               windows and use curtains
               and shade to give your air
               conditioner and energy bill
               a break. If you live in the      Cold-Climate Windows Keep Heat In                  02477413m
               Sun Belt, look into low-e        Double-pane windows with low-e coating on the glass reflect
               windows, which can cut the       heat back into the room during the winter months.
               cooling load by 10% to 15%.
               If your home has single-                    Cold-Climate Window Tips
               pane windows, as many U.S. homes            • You can use a heavy-duty, clear plastic
               do, consider replacing them with              sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic
               new double-pane windows with                  film to the inside of your window
               high-performance glass (e.g., low-e           frames during the cold winter months.
               or spectrally selective). In colder           Remember, the plastic must be sealed
               climates, select windows that are gas         tightly to the frame to help reduce
               filled with low emissivity                    infiltration.
               (low-e) coatings on the glass to reduce     • Install tight-fitting, insulating window
               heat loss. In warmer climates, select         shades on windows that feel drafty
               windows with spectrally selective             after weatherizing.
               coatings to reduce heat gain. If you are    • Close your curtains and shades at
               building a new home, you can offset           night; open them during the day.
               some of the cost of installing more         • Keep windows on the south side of your
               efficient windows because they                house clean to let in the winter sun.
               allow you to buy smaller, less
               expensive heating and cooling               • Install exterior or interior storm
               equipment.                                    windows; storm windows can reduce
                                                             heat loss through the windows by 25%
               If you decide not to replace your             to 50%. Storm windows should have
               windows, the simpler, less costly             weatherstripping at all movable joints;
               measures listed here can improve their        be made of strong, durable materials;

               performance.                                  and have interlocking or overlapping
                                                             joints. Low-e storm windows save
                                                             even more energy.
                                                      Efficient windows may have two
                                                      or more panes of glass, warm-
                                                      edge spacers between the window
                                                      panes, improved framing materials,
                                                      and low-e coating(s), which are
                                                      microscopically thin coatings
                                                      that help keep heat inside during
                                                      the winter and outside during the

                                                       Shopping Tips for Windows
                                                       • Look for the ENERGY STAR
                                                       • Check with local utilities to see
                                                         what rebates or other financial
Warm-Climate Windows Keep Heat Out                       incentives are available for window
In the summertime, the sun shining through your          replacement.
windows heats up the room. Windows with low-e          • High-performance windows have
coatings on the glass reflect some of the sunlight,      at least two panes of glass and a
keeping your rooms cooler.                               low-e (low emissivity) coating.
                                                      • Remember, the lower the U-factor,
• Repair and weatherize your current                     the better the insulation. In colder
  storm windows, if necessary.                           climates, focus on finding a low
Warm-Climate Window Tips
                                                      • Low solar heat gain coefficients
• Install white window shades, drapes,
                                                         (SHGCs) reduce heat gain. In
  or blinds to reflect heat away from
                                                         warm climates, look for a low
  the house.
• Close curtains on south- and west-
  facing windows during the day.                      • In temperate climates with both
• Install awnings on south- and west-                    heating and cooling seasons, select
  facing windows.                                        windows with both low U-factors
• Apply sun-control or other reflective                  and low SHGCs to maximize
  films on south-facing windows to                       energy savings.
  reduce solar gain.                                  • Look for whole-unit U-factors
                                                         and SHGCs, rather than center-
$ Long-Term Savings Tip                                  of-glass, or COG, U-factors and
• Installing, high-performance windows                   SHGCs. Whole-unit numbers
  will improve your home’s energy                        more accurately reflect the energy
  performance. While it may take many                    performance of the entire product.
  years for new windows to pay off in                 • Have your windows installed
  energy savings, the benefits of added                  by trained professionals. Be
  comfort and improved aesthetics and                    sure they’re installed according
  functionality may make the investment                  to manufacturer’s instructions;
  worth it to you. Many window                           otherwise, your warranty may be

  technologies are available that are                    void.
  worth considering.

            Lighting                                                 than incandescent bulbs initially, over
                                                                     their lifetime they are cheaper because

                                                                     of how little electricity they use. CFL
                      aking improvements to your                     lighting fixtures are now available
                      lighting is one of the fastest                 that are compatible with dimmers and
                ways to cut your energy bills. An                    operate like incandescent fixtures.
                average household dedicates 11% of
                its energy budget to lighting. Using                 Indoor Lighting Tips
                new lighting technologies can reduce                 • Be sure to buy ENERGY STAR
                lighting energy use in your home by                    qualified CFLs.
                50% to 75%. Advances in lighting                      - They will save you about $30 or more
                controls offer further energy savings                   in electricity costs over each bulb’s
                by reducing the amount of time lights                   lifetime.
                are on but not being used.                            - Producing about 75% less heat, they
                                                                        are safer to operate and can cut home
                                                                        cooling costs.
                                                                      - Visit to find the
                                                                        right light bulbs for your fixtures. They
                                                                        are available in sizes and shapes to fit
                                                                        in almost any fixture.
                                                                      - They provide the greatest savings in
                                                                        fixtures that are on for a long time
                                                                        each day. The best fixtures to use
                                                                        qualified CFLs in are usually found in
                                                                        your family and living rooms, kitchen,
                                                                        dining room, bedrooms, and outdoors.
                                                                      • Consider purchasing ENERGY STAR
                Compact Fluorescent Bulbs—                              qualified fixtures. They are available in
                A Bright Idea!                                          many styles including table, desk and
                                                                        floor lamps — and hard-wired options
                ENERGY	STAR	qualified	lighting	provides	bright,	        for front porches, dining rooms,
                warm light and uses about 75% less energy
                                                                        bathroom vanity fixtures, and more.
                than standard lighting, produces 75% less heat,
                and lasts up to 10 times longer.

                Indoor Lighting
                Use linear fluorescent tubes and energy
                efficient compact fluorescent light
                bulbs (CFLs) in fixtures throughout
                your home to provide high-quality and
                high-efficiency lighting. Fluorescent
                lamps are much more efficient than
                incandescent (standard) bulbs and last
                about 6 to 12 times longer.
                Today’s CFLs offer brightness and
                color rendition that is comparable to              CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed

                incandescent bulbs. Although linear                within the glass tubing. Many retailers are offering
                fluorescent and CFLs cost a bit more               free recycling services for consumers at their stores.

                                                 Outdoor Lighting
                                                 Many homeowners use outdoor
                                                 lighting for decoration and security.
                                                 When shopping for outdoor lights,
                                                 you will find a variety of products,
                                                 from low-voltage pathway lighting
                                                 to motion-detector floodlights. Light
                                                 emitting diodes, or LEDs, thrive in
                                                 outdoor environments because of
                                                 their durability and performance in
                                                 cold weather. Look for ENERGY
                                                 STAR LED products such as pathway
                                                 lights, step lights, and porch lights for
                                                 outdoor use.
                                                 Outdoor Lighting Tips
ENERGY	STAR	qualified	CFLs	are	available	in	     • Because outdoor lights are usually
sizes and shapes to fit in almost any fixture.     left on a long time, using CFLs
                                                   in these fixtures will save a lot of
• ENERGY STAR qualified fixtures                   energy. Most bare spiral CFLs can be
  distribute light more efficiently and            used in enclosed fixtures that protect
  evenly than standard fixtures and they           them from the weather.
  deliver convenient features such as            • CFLs are also available as flood
  dimming on some indoor models.                   lights. These models have been tested
• Controls such as timers and photo                to withstand the rain and snow so
  cells save electricity by turning lights         they can be used in exposed fixtures.
  off when not in use. Dimmers save                Most though, cannot be used with
  electricity when used to lower light             motion detectors.
  levels. Be sure to select products that        • Look for ENERGY STAR qualified
  are compatible with CFL bulbs; not all           fixtures that are designed for outdoor
  products work with CFLs.                         use and come with features like
• When remodeling, look for recessed               automatic daylight shut-off and
  downlights, or “cans”, that are rated for        motion sensors.
  contact with insulation (IC rated).
• Take advantage of daylight by using
  light-colored, loose-weave curtains            LED—A New Kind of Light
  on your windows to allow daylight to
                                                  Light emitting diodes, or LEDs, offer
  penetrate the room while preserving
                                                  better	light	quality	than	incandescent	
  privacy. Also, decorate with lighter            bulbs, last 25 times as long, and use
  colors that reflect daylight.                   even less energy than CFLs. Look for
• If you have torchiere fixtures with             ENERGY	STAR	qualified	LED	products	at	
  halogen lamps, consider replacing them          home improvement centers and lighting
  with compact fluorescent torchieres.            showrooms.
  Compact fluorescent torchieres use
  60% to 80% less energy and do not get
  as hot as halogen torchieres.

                  Appliances                                      and 28 lists some of the major appliances
                                                                  that carry the ENERGY STAR label and
                                                                  provides helpful information on what to

              A        ppliances account for about
                       17% of your household’s energy
                  consumption, with refrigerators,
                                                                  look for when shopping for an appliance.

                                                           To help you figure out whether an
                  clothes washers, and clothes dryers at   appliance is energy efficient, the federal
                  the top of the consumption list.         government requires most appliances
                                                           to display the bright yellow and black
                  When you’re shopping for appliances, EnergyGuide label. Although these
                  think of two price tags. The first one   labels will not tell you which appliance
                  covers the purchase price—think of       is the most efficient, they will tell you
                  it as a down payment. The second         the annual energy consumption and
                  price tag is the cost of operating the   operating cost for each appliance so
                  appliance during its lifetime. You’ll be you can compare them yourself. The
                  paying on that second price tag every    American Council for an Energy-
                  month with your utility bill for the     Efficient Economy lists the energy
                  next 10 to 20 years, depending on the    performance of top-rated energy- saving
                  appliance. Refrigerators last an average appliances on its web site: www.aceee.
                  of 14 years; clothes washers about 11    org.
                  years; dishwashers about 10 years; and
                  room air conditioners last 9 years.      Dishwashers
                                                           Most of the energy used by a dishwasher
                  When you do shop for a new               is for water heating. The EnergyGuide
                  appliance, look for the ENERGY           label estimates how much power is
                  STAR label. ENERGY STAR products needed per year to run the appliance and
                  usually exceed minimum federal           to heat the water based on the yearly cost
                  standards by a substantial amount. The of natural gas and electric water heating.
                  appliance shopping guide on pages 27

                  What’s the Real Cost?
                  Every appliance has two price tags—the purchase price and the operating cost. Consider both when
                  buying a new appliance.

                                                    • Let your dishes air dry; if you don’t
  What’s a kilowatt?
                                                      have an automatic air-dry switch,
  When you use electricity to cook a pot of           turn off the control knob after the
  rice for 1 hour, you use 1000 watt-hours of         final rinse and prop the door open
  electricity!	One	thousand	watt-hours	equals	        slightly so the dishes will dry faster.
  1	kilowatt-hour,	or	1	kWh.	Your	utility	bill	
  usually shows what you are charged for the
  kilowatt-hours you use. The average residential
                                                    $ Long-Term Savings Tip
  rate is 9.4 cents per kWh. A typical U.S.         • When shopping for a new
  household consumes about 11,000 kWh per             dishwasher, look for the ENERGY
  year, costing an average of $1,034 annually.        STAR label to find a dishwasher that
                                                      uses less water and 41% less energy
                                                      than required by federal standards.
Dishwasher Tips
• Check the manual that came with your
  dishwasher for the manufacturer’s                 Refrigerators
  recommendations on water                          The EnergyGuide label on new
  temperature; many have internal                   refrigerators tells you how much
  heating elements that allow you to                electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh) a
  set the water heater in your home                 particular model uses in one year. The
  to a lower temperature (120°F).                   smaller the number, the less energy
• Scrape, don’t rinse, off large                    the refrigerator uses and the less it
  food pieces and bones. Soaking                    will cost you to operate. In addition
  or prewashing is generally only                   to the EnergyGuide label, don’t forget
  recommended in cases of burned-on                 to look for the ENERGY STAR label.
  or dried-on food.                                 A new refrigerator with an ENERGY
• Be sure your dishwasher is full, but              STAR label uses at least 20% less
  not overloaded, when you run it.                  energy than required by current
• Avoid using the “rinse hold” on your              federal standards and 40% less energy
  machine for just a few soiled dishes.             than the conventional models sold in
  It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each          2001.
  time you use it.

                                                    How to Read the
                                                    EnergyGuide Label
                                                    The EnergyGuide label gives you two
                                                    important pieces of information you can
                                                    use to compare different brands and
                                                    models when shopping for a new refrigerator:
                                                    •	Estimated	yearly	operating	cost	based	on	
                                                      the national average cost of electricity.
                                                    •	Estimated	energy	consumption	on	a	scale	
                                                      showing a range for similar models

                  Refrigerator/Freezer Energy Tips          • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored
                  • Look for a refrigerator with              in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods
                    automatic moisture control.               release moisture and make the
                    Models with this feature have been        compressor work harder.
                    engineered to prevent moisture
                    accumulation on the cabinet exterior
                                                            $ Long-Term Savings Tip
                                                            • Look for the ENERGY STAR label
                    without the addition of a heater.
                                                              when buying a new refrigerator. Select
                    This is not the same thing as an
                                                              a new refrigerator that is the right
                    “anti-sweat” heater. Models with an
                                                              size for your household. Top freezer
                    anti-sweat heater will consume 5%
                                                              models are more energy efficient than
                    to 10% more energy than models
                                                              side-by-side models. Features like
                    without this feature.
                                                              icemakers and water dispensers, while
                  • Don’t keep your refrigerator or           convenient, will increase energy use.
                    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.                      ENERGY STAR Refrigerators Are Cool!

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

Other Energy-Saving Kitchen Tips                or cold water setting on your machine
• Be sure to place the faucet lever on the      will generally do a good job of
  kitchen sink in the cold position when        cleaning your clothes. Switching your
  using small amounts of water; placing         temperature setting from hot to warm
  the lever in the hot position uses            can cut a load’s energy use in half.
  energy to heat the water even though it
  may never reach the faucet.                   Laundry Tips
                                                • Wash your clothes in cold water
• If you need to purchase a natural gas           using cold-water detergents
  oven or range, look for one with an             whenever possible.
  automatic, electric ignition system.
  An electric ignition saves natural gas        • Wash and dry full loads. If you
  because a pilot light is not burning            are washing a small load, use the
  continuously.                                   appropriate water-level setting.
• In natural gas appliances, look for           • Dry towels and heavier cottons in
  blue flames; yellow flames indicate             a separate load from lighter-weight
  the gas is burning inefficiently and an         clothes.
  adjustment may be needed. Consult the         • Don’t over-dry your clothes. If your
  manufacturer or your local utility.             machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
• Keep range-top burners and reflectors         • Clean the lint filter in the dryer
  clean; they will reflect the heat better,       after every load to improve air
  and you will save energy.                       circulation.
• Use a covered kettle or pan to boil           • Use the cool-down cycle to allow
  water; it’s faster and it uses less energy.     the clothes to finish drying with the
• Match the size of the pan to the heating        residual heat in the dryer.
  element.                                      • Periodically inspect your dryer vent
• Use small electric pans or toaster ovens        to ensure it is not blocked. This will
  for small meals rather than your large          save energy and may prevent a fire.
  stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a            Manufacturers recommend using
  third to half as much energy as a full-         rigid venting material, not plastic
  sized oven.                                     vents that may collapse and cause
• Use pressure cookers and microwave
  ovens whenever it is convenient               • Consider air-drying clothes on
  to do so. They will save energy by              clothes lines or drying racks. Air-
  significantly reducing cooking time.            drying is recommended by clothing
                                                  manufacturers for some fabrics.
About 90% of the energy used for                $ Long-Term Savings Tips
washing clothes in a conventional               • Look for the ENERGY STAR and
top-load washer is for heating the water.         EnergyGuide labels. ENERGY
There are two ways to reduce the amount           STAR clothes washers clean clothes
of energy used for washing clothes—use            using 50% less energy than standard
less water and use cooler water. Unless

                                                  washers. Most full-sized ENERGY
you’re dealing with oily stains, the warm

                  How Much Electricity Do Appliances Use?
                  This chart shows how much energy a typical appliance uses per year and its corresponding cost
                  based on national averages. For example, a refrigerator uses almost five times the electricity the
                  average television uses. Visit for instructions on calculating the electrical
                  use of your appliances.

                    STAR washers use 15 gallons of
                    water per load, compared to the
                    32.5 gallons used by a new standard
                    machine. ENERGY STAR models
                    also spin the clothes better, resulting
                    in less drying time.
                  • 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 the wear and tear on
                    your clothes caused by over-drying.              Save Energy and More with ENERGY STAR
                                                                     ENERGY	STAR	clothes	washers	use	50%	less	
                  • ENERGY STAR does not label                       energy to wash clothes than standard washing
                    clothes dryers because most of                   machines.
                    them use similar amounts of energy,
                    which means there is little difference

                    in energy use between models.

Major Appliance
Shopping Guide
This easy-to-read guide may help you
understand how appliances are rated for
efficiency, what the ratings mean, and what to
look for while shopping for new appliances.

  Appliances                      Rating                             Special Considerations
  Natural          Look for the FTC (Federal Trade           Bigger is not always better! Too large a
  Gas and Oil      Commission) EnergyGuide label with        system costs more and operates inefficiently.
  Systems          an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization          Have a professional assess your needs and
                   Efficiency) rating for natural gas- and   recommend the type and size of system you
                   oil-fired furnaces and boilers. The       should purchase.
                   AFUE measures the seasonal or annual
                   efficiency.	ENERGY	STAR	furnaces	
                   have a 90 AFUE or higher.

  Air-Source       Look for the EnergyGuide label that       If you live in a cool climate, look for a heat
  Heat Pumps       lists the SEER (Seasonal Energy           pump	with	a	high	HSPF.	ENERGY	STAR	heat	
                   Efficiency Ratio) and HSPF (Heating       pumps are about 20% more efficient than
                   Seasonal Performance Factor) for heat     standard models. Contact a professional for
                   pumps. The SEER measures the energy       advice on purchasing a heat pump.
                   efficiency during the cooling season
                   and HSPF measures the efficiency
                   during	the	heating	season.	The	ENERGY	
                   STAR minimum efficiency level is
                   13 SEER or higher.

  Central Air      Look for the EnergyGuide label with       Air	conditioners	that	bear	the	ENERGY	
  Conditioners     a SEER for central air conditioners.      STAR label may be 25% more efficient than
                   The	ENERGY	STAR	minimum	efficiency	       standard models. Contact a professional for
                   level is 13 SEER.                         advice on sizing a central air system.

  Room Air         Look for the EnergyGuide label with an    What size to buy?
  Conditioners     EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) for room    Area in          Btu/       Two major factors
                   air conditioners. The higher the EER,     square feet      hour       should guide your
                   the	more	efficient	the	unit	is.	ENERGY	                               purchase: correct
                   STAR units are among the most energy-      100 to 150       5,000     size and energy
                   efficient products.                        150 to 250       6,000     efficiency. If the
                                                              250 to 350       7,000     room is very sunny,
                                                              350 to 450       9,000     increase capacity
                                                              400 to 450      10,000     by 10%. If the unit
                                                              450 to 550      12,000     is for a kitchen,
                                                              550 to 700      14,000     increase the

                                                             700 to 1,000     18,000     capacity by 4,000
                                                                                         Btu per hour.

                                        Appliances                     Rating                            Special Considerations
                                       Programmable    For	minimum	ENERGY	STAR	efficiency,	        Look	for	a	the	ENERGY	STAR	label	and	
                                       Thermostats     thermostats should have at least two        a thermostat that allows you to easily
                                                       programs, four temperature settings         use two separate programs, one that
                                                       each, a hold feature that allows users      can be programmed to reach the desired
                                                       to temporarily override settings, and the   temperature at a specific time, and a
                                                       ability to maintain room temperature        hold feature that temporarily overrides
                                                       within 2ºF of desired temperature.          the setting without deleting the preset

                                       Water Heaters   Look for the EnergyGuide label that         If you typically need a lot of hot water at
                                                       tells how much energy the water             once, the FHR will be important to you.
                                                       heater uses in one year. Also, look for     Sizing is important—call your local utility
                                                       the FHR (first hour rating) of the water    for advice.
                                                       heater, which measures the maximum
                                                       hot water the heater will deliver in the
                                                       first	hour	of	use.	ENERGY	STAR	labeled	
                                                       water heaters available January 2009.
                                       Windows         Look for the NFRC (National                 Look at the Climate Region Map on the
                                                       Fenestration Rating Council) label that     ENERGY	STAR	label	to	be	sure	that	the	
                                                       provides U-values and SHGC (solar heat      window, door, or skylight you have selected
                                                       gain coefficient) values. The lower the     is appropriate for where you live.
                                                       U-value, the better the insulation.

                                       Refrigerators   Look for the EnergyGuide label that         Look for energy-efficient refrigerators and
                                       and Freezers    tells how much electricity, in kWh, the     freezers. Refrigerators with freezers on top
                                                       refrigerator will use in one year. The      are more efficient than those with freezers
                                                       smaller the number, the less energy it      on the side. Also look for heavy door hinges
                                                       uses.	ENERGY	STAR	refrigerators	use	at	     that create a good door seal.
                                                       least	20%	less	energy	than	required	by	
                                                       federal standards.

                                       Dishwashers     Look for the EnergyGuide label that         Look for features that will reduce water
                                                       tells how much electricity, in kWh, the     use, such as booster heaters and smart
                                                       dishwasher will use in one year. The        controls. Ask how many gallons of water
                                                       smaller the number, the less energy it      the dishwasher uses during different
                                                                                                                                                  Major Appliances Shopping Guide
Major Appliances Shopping Guide

                                                       uses.	ENERGY	STAR	dishwashers	use	at	       cycles. Dishwashers that use the least
                                                       least	41%	less	energy	than	required	by	     amount of water will cost the least to
                                                       federal standards.                          operate.

                                       Clothes         Look for the EnergyGuide label that         Look for the following design features that
                                       Washers         tells how much electricity, in kWh, the     help clothes washers cut water usage:
                                                       clothes washer will use in one year. The    water level controls, “suds-saver” features,
                                                       smaller the number, the less energy is      spin cycle adjustments, and large capacity.
                                                       uses.	ENERGY	STAR	clothes	washers	          For	double	the	efficiency,	buy	an	ENERGY	
                                                       use less than 50% of the energy used        STAR unit.
                                                       by standard washers.

Home Office and Home Electronics
I  n the U.S., nearly 4.2 million
   people worked from home in 2000,
up from 3.4 million in 1990. Working
                                                           Shop for ENERGY STAR
                                                            Products for Offices
from home saves energy and time by                           •	 Computers
cutting out the commute, but it may                          •	 Copiers
increase your home energy bills a lot                        •	 Fax	Machines
unless you use energy-saving office                          •	 Monitors
equipment.                                                   •	 Multifunction	Devices
ENERGY STAR labeled office                                      (fax, scanner, copier)
equipment is widely available: it                            •	 Printers
provides users with dramatic savings,                        •	 Scanners
as much as 90% savings for some
products. Overall, ENERGY STAR
labeled office products use about half                  machines when they are not in
the electricity of standard equipment.                  use can result in enormous energy
Along with saving energy directly,                      savings.
this equipment can reduce air-                       • An ENERGY STAR labeled
conditioning loads, noise from fans                    computer uses 70% less electricity
and transformers, and electromagnetic                  than computers without this
field emissions from monitors.                         designation. If left inactive,
                                                       ENERGY STAR labeled desktop
Home Office Tips                                       computers enter a sleep mode and
• Selecting energy-efficient office                    use 4 watts or less.
  equipment—personal computers
  (PCs), monitors, copiers, printers,
  and fax machines—and turning off

                                                                                                 Home Office and Home Electronics

Keep Your Home Office Efficient with ENERGY STAR
Home	offices	are	increasingly	popular.	Be	sure	to	use	ENERGY	STAR	
office	equipment	to	save	electricity.

                                          Spending a large portion of time
                                          in low-power mode not only saves
                                                                                       Shop for ENERGY STAR
                                          energy, but helps equipment run                Home Electronics
                                          cooler and last longer.                   •	 Cordless	Phones	
                                                                                    •	 Televisions	
                                        • To maximize savings with a laptop,
                                          put the AC adapter on a power strip       •	 VCRs	and	DVD	Players
                                          that can be turned off (or will turn      •	 Combination	Units	(TV/VCR;		
                                          off automatically); the transformer        	 TV/DVD)	
                                          in the AC adapter draws power             •	 Home	Audio	
                                          continuously, even when the laptop        •	 Set-Top	Boxes	
                                          is not plugged into the adapter.
                                        • Common misconceptions sometimes
                                                                                   kitchen appliances. These phantom
                                          account for the failure to turn off
                                                                                   loads can be avoided by unplugging
                                          equipment. Many people believe
                                                                                   the appliance or using a power strip
                                          that equipment lasts longer if it is
                                                                                   and using the switch on the power strip
                                          never turned off. This incorrect
                                                                                   to cut all power to the appliance.
                                          perception carries over from the
                                          days of older mainframe computers.     • Unplug battery chargers when the
                                                                                   batteries are fully charged or the
                                        • ENERGY STAR labeled computers            chargers are not in use.
                                          and monitors save energy only when
                                                                                 • Studies have shown that using
                                          the power management features
                                                                                   rechargeable batteries for products
                                          are activated, so make sure power
                                                                                   like cordless phones and PDAs is
                                          management is activated on your
                                                                                   more cost effective than throwaway
                                                                                   batteries. If you must use throaways,
                                        • There is a common misconception          check with your trash removal
                                          that screen savers reduce energy use     company about safe disposal options.
                                          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
Home Office and Home Electronics

                                          next computer upgrade; they use
                                          much less energy than desktop
                                        Home Electronics Tips
                                        • Look for energy-saving ENERGY
                                          STAR labeled home electronics.
                                        • 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     Smart power strips help save wasted energy.

Driving and Car Maintenance
T  ransportation accounts for 67% of
   U.S. oil use—mainly in the form of
gasoline. Luckily, there are plenty of
                                          Car Maintenance Tips
                                          • Use the grade of motor oil
                                            recommended by your car’s
ways to improve gas mileage.                manufacturer. Using a different
                                            motor oil can lower your gasoline
Driving Tips
                                            mileage by 1% to 2%.
• Idling gets you 0 miles per gallon.
  The best way to warm up a vehicle is    • Keep tires properly inflated and
  to drive it. No more than 30 seconds      aligned to improve your gasoline
  of idling on winter days is needed.       mileage by around 3.3%.
  Anything more simply wastes fuel        • Get regular engine tune-ups and car
  and increases emissions.                  maintenance checks to avoid fuel
• Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid       economy problems due to worn
  acceleration, and hard braking)           spark plugs, dragging brakes, low
  wastes gas. It can lower your             transmission fluid, or transmission
  highway gas mileage 33% and               problems.
  city mileage 5%.                        • Replace clogged air filters to
• Avoid high speeds. Above 60 mph,          improve gas mileage by as much
  gas mileage drops rapidly.                as 10% and protect your engine.
• Clear out your car; extra weight        • Combine errands into one trip.
  decreases gas mileage by 1% to 2% for     Several short trips, each one taken
  every 100 pounds.                         from a cold start, can use twice as
                                            much fuel as one trip covering the
• Reduce drag by placing items inside
                                            same distance when the engine is
  the car or trunk rather than on roof
  racks. A roof rack or carrier
  provides additional                          $ Long-Term Savings Tip
  cargo space                                    • Consider buying a highly
  and may                                         fuel-efficient vehicle. A fuel-
  allow you to                                     efficient vehicle, a hybrid
  buy a smaller                                    vehicle, or an alternative
  car. However,                                     fuel vehicle could save you
  a loaded                                           a lot at the gas pump and
  roof rack can                                       help the environment. See
  decrease your                                        the Fuel Economy Guide
                                                                                           Driving and Car Maintenance

  fuel economy                                          (
  by 5% or more.                                         for more on buying a
                                                          new fuel-efficient car or
• Check into
  carpooling and
  public transit to
  cut mileage and car
  maintenance costs.

                    Renewable Energy
                    Y       ou have many options for using
                            renewable energy at home—from
                        solar-powered outdoor lights to buying
                                                                     and a good solar resource, you might
                                                                     want to consider generating your
                                                                     own electricity using PV cells. New
                        renewable energy from your utility           products are available that integrate
                        to even producing solar electricity at       PV cells with the roof, making them
                        home with photovoltaic (PV) cells.           much less visible than older systems.

                        Renewable Energy Tips                      If the following conditions apply, you
                        • A new home provides the best             might want to do more research to see
                          opportunity for designing and            if investing in PV is right for you:
                          orienting the home to take advantage     • Your site has adequate solar resources.
                          of the sun’s rays. A well-oriented
                          home admits low-angle winter sun         • A grid connection is not available in
                          to reduce heating bills and rejects        your area or can be made only through
                          overhead summer sun to reduce              an expensive power line extension.
                          cooling bills. See the Heating and
                          Cooling section for more about using
                          passive solar energy in your home.
                        • Many U.S. consumers buy electricity
                          made from renewable energy sources
                          like the sun, wind, water, plants, and
                          Earth’s internal heat. This power is
                          sometimes called “green power.”
                          Buying green power from the utility
                          is one of the easiest ways to use
                          renewable energy without having to
                          invest in equipment or take on extra
                        • Another use of solar power is for
                          heating water. Solar water heating is
                          covered in the Water Heating section
                                                                   Solar-Powered Outdoor Lighting
                          on page 16. If you have a swimming       Installing solar lighting around your home and garden
                          pool or hot tub, you can use solar       is	quick	and	easy	with	an	added	bonus—no	wires	or	
                          power to cut pool heating costs.         electricity costs!
                          Most solar pool heating systems are
                          cost competitive with conventional       • You are willing to pay more up front
                          systems. And solar pool systems            to reduce the environmental impact of
                          have very low operating costs. It’s        your electricity use.
                          actually the most cost-effective use     • Your power provider will connect your
Renewable Energy

                          of solar energy.                           system to the electricity grid and buy
                                                                     any excess power you produce.
                        $ Long-Term Savings Tip
                                                                   • Your state, city, or utility offers
                        • If you’ve made your home as
                                                                     rebates, tax credits, or other incentives.
                          energy efficient as possible, and
                                                                     Visit to find out
                          you have very high electricity bills
                                                                     about financial incentives in your area.
American Council for an                              ENERGY SAVERS
Energy-Efficient Economy                   
                                                     ENERGY STAR®
Census Bureau Press Release,               
Information on Home Workers
October 20, 2004. CB04-183.                          Home Energy Magazine
DOE Building America                              Rocky Mountain Institute
                                                     Home Energy Briefs
DOE Building Technologies Program          
                                                     Wilson, Alex; Thorne, Jennifer; Morrill, John.
DOE Building Technologies Program,                   Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings,
2007 Buildings Energy Databook                       8th Edition. 2003. Washington, D.C.: ACEEE
DOE Consumer Guide to Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy
DOE/EPA Fuel Economy Guide
DOE Energy Information Administration
Residential Energy Consumption Survey 2005

NOTICE: This booklet was prepared by an agency
of the United States government. Neither the
United States government nor any agency thereof,
nor any of their employees, makes any warranty,
express or implied, or assumes any legal liability
or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness,
or usefulness of any information, apparatus,
product, or process disclosed, or represents that
its use would not infringe privately owned rights.
Reference herein to any specific commercial
product, process, or service by trade name,
trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not
necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement,
recommendation, or favoring by the United States

government or any agency thereof. The views
and opinions of authors expressed herein do not
necessarily state or reflect those of the United
States government or any agency thereof.

                to order booklets, download the PDF, and view the booklet online.

        A Strong Energy Portfolio for a Strong America               For more information contact:
      Energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy will mean a EERE Information Center
   stronger economy, a cleaner environment, and greater energy 1-877-EERE-INF (1-877-337-3463)
   independence for America. Working with a wide array of state,
community, industry, and university partners, the U.S. Department
   of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
             invests in a diverse portfolio of energy technologies.

               Produced for the
               U.S. Department of Energy,
               Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
               1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20585
               by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a DOE National Laboratory

               May 2009
               Printed with renewable-source ink on paper containing at least 50% wastepaper,
               including 10% postconsumer waste. Inside illustrations © 1998 Greening America
               Printing paid for by the partner organization identified on the back cover.

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