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energy saving tips

At Spark Energy, we are proud to bring our customers the energy resources they need at the best possible price. However, energy is precious and powerful. So, we want to help you take steps to lower your energy usage and benefit your budget as well as the health and well-being of the environment.

There are many ways to conserve energy without sacrificing too much comfort or convenience. It not only saves money, it also saves valuable resources.

We have outlined a few ways for you to save on energy consumption. Some you may already know about. Others may be new ideas for you.

Browse our energy saving tips in the following categories:

Appliances

When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags:

  • What you pay for it
  • What you pay for the energy and/or water it uses

ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. The money you save on your utility bills can more than make up for the cost of a more expensive but more efficient ENERGY STAR model.

Time of Day

Use energy at night.

Peak energy usage is between 4-6PM. Running dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers later at night will reduce strain on the power grid and keep the house cooler in summer.

OFF is your friend.

Anything you plug in not only uses electricity, it generates heat. So get in the habit of turning off lights, TVs, and other devices when you leave a room, especially in warmer weather. An added benefit - it will put less strain on your air conditioner resulting in a longer life.

Windows

Control the summer sun.

Keep curtains and drapes drawn during the day in the warm months to block out the sun’s heat. White blinds and/or draperies will also do a better job of reflecting the sun light from your windows.

Use the sun in winter.

During colder months, open south and west facing blinds/draperies to let in radiant sunlight and take a load off your furnace.

No leaks.

Make sure you have adequate weather stripping on your windows and doors, and keep them closed when running your AC or furnace.

Air

Fans

Use fans to remain cool instead of lowering your thermostat. Fans move the air and make the room feel four to six degrees cooler, and will use much less energy than the air conditioner. Just be sure to turn them off when you leave the room. They can’t cool you if you aren’t there. Whole-house fans help keep your home cooler in summer by pulling cool air through your home and exhausting warm air through the attic.

Turn off the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms twenty minutes after you finish bathing or cooking.

Don't leave bathroom or kitchen ventilation fans running longer than necessary; they replace inside air with outside air.

Ducts, Vents, & Openings

Check your ducts for air leaks. Use heat approved tapes rather than cloth-backed duct tape to seal your ducts. Make sure radiators, baseboard heaters, warm-air registers, and A/C vents aren’t blocked by furniture or curtains.

Keep the dampers on your fireplace closed when you are not using it.

Programmable thermostats.

Properly used, a programmable thermostat can save 10-20% of your energy use. Run your HVAC on automatic rather than running it continuously.

In summer, set your thermostat as high as is comfortable. Try it at 78°F. Program your thermostat to raise the temperature during the day when you're not home, and cool the house down before you arrive home. And remember, setting your thermostat at a lower temperature than desired does not make your home cool faster.

In winter, set your thermostat to 68°F. Also set it to cool down your house during the day and heat it back up before you get home.

Every extra degree of cooling or heating increases energy usage 6% to 8%.

Air conditioning

Check air filters once a month and replace at least once every three months as dirty filters make your system run and work harder than necessary. As debris collects, less of the cool air is entering your home.

Make sure your air-conditioner is clean. Washing the outside coils and clearing high grass and debris will prevent blockage of the air-flow. Outside air conditioning units, or condensers, should also be shaded.

If your air-conditioner is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model that can use up to 40% less energy than older models.

Lighting

Bulbs

Clean light bulbs regularly.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use 75 percent less electricity and produce 90% less heat.

One larger wattage bulb is more efficient than two smaller wattage bulbs.

Make sure your bulbs do not exceed the recommended wattage indicated on the light socket.

Lamps

Directed light, such as for reading, is more efficient than brightly lighting an entire room.

Don’t place lamps or televisions near your thermostat. The heat emitted from them can keep your air conditioner running longer than is necessary.

Water

Hot Water Heater

Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees.

Drain your hot water tank regularly to remove sediment.

Consider a tankless water heater: they are 35% to 45% more efficient, and you will never run out of hot water.

Dishwasher

Use the air-dry setting on your dishwasher. Using the heat-dry setting can also heat the kitchen, causing the air conditioner to run more.

Don’t use the “rinse hold” option on your dishwasher. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.

Make sure your dishwasher is full but not overloaded. This saves water and electricity.

Clothes washer

Wash clothes in cold water wherever possible. Also only run clothes washers when fully loaded. This will save water in addition to electricity.

Bathing

Shorter showers are more energy efficient than baths.

Repair leaking faucets

Warm-water leaks should be given immediate attention because they can raise your electric consumption rapidly.

Refrigerator

Temperatures

Don’t set refrigerator and freezer temperatures too low. Your unit will work harder than it needs to. The recommended temperatures are 37 to 40 degrees for your refrigerator and 5 degrees for your freezer.

Moisture

Don’t allow frost to build up in your freezer. Frost build-up reduces the efficiency of your freezer.

Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. These have been manufactured to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior eliminating the need for the addition of a heater.

Make sure your refrigerator doors seal airtight. Cover liquids and wrap foods in your refrigerator. Uncovered foods emit moisture into the refrigerator and make the compressor work harder.

Efficiency

Minimize opening and closing your refrigerator and freezer. Every time you open it, cool air will rush out and be replaced with warm air, causing the refrigerator to run more to stay cool.

Keep it full. Refrigerators and freezers actually operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible (with bottles of water if nothing else).

Keep condenser coils on the back of your refrigerator and freezer clean.

Clothes Dryer

To make most efficient use of your dryer, dry lighter clothing in separate loads from towels and other heavy materials. Dry loads back-to-back if possible, but remember to clean the lint screen between each load. It helps move moisture away from clothes faster. Don’t over dry your clothing.

Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.

Consider air-drying your clothing on clothes racks or lines.

Do not overfill the dryer and use the automatic setting if available.

Electronics

Turn it off

Computers do not last longer if you leave them on. This misconception was only applicable on the old mainframe computers. Turn off your computer, monitors, copiers, fax machines, etc. when you are not using them.

Outlet drain

When plugged into a wall outlet, electronic and other home office equipment can continue to consume electricity after it is turned off. Use power strips. Shutting off power at a power strip will eliminate this standby electricity consumption.

Sleep saves

Screensavers do not save energy. Use power management tools instead. Set monitors and computers to switch to sleep mode when idle for more than a few minutes. This will not only use less energy, but will run cooler and reduce the need for air-conditioning.

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