How to Increase Energy Efficiency and Save Energy
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 achieve energy conservation 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:
Energy Efficient 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 4-6 PM. 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 plugin not only uses household electricity, but it also 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 room air conditioner resulting in longer life.
Energy Efficient Windows:
Control the direct sunlight in the summer.
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 sunlight 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.
Seal air leaks.
Make sure you have adequate weather stripping on your windows and doors, and keep them closed when running your hvac system.
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.
Properly used, a programmable thermostat can save 10-20% of your energy use. Run your HVAC system on automatic rather than running it continuously. In summer, set your smart 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 will increases energy usage by 6% to 8%.
Check air filters once a month and replace them at least once every three months as dirty filters make your system run and work harder than necessary. As debris collects, less of the cold 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 provide up to 40% more energy efficiency than older models.
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 light bulbs do not exceed the recommended wattage indicated on the light socket.
Directed light, such as for reading, provides more energy efficiency than brightly lighting an entire room. Do not place lamps or televisions near your thermostat. The heat emitted from them can keep your air conditioner running longer than it is necessary.
Hot Water Heater
Turn your hot water heater temperature down to 120 degrees. Drain your hot water tank regularly to remove sediment. Consider a tank-less water heater: they are 35% to 45% more efficient, and you will never run out of hot water.
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 will save energy and water.
Wash clothes in cold water wherever possible. Also only running clothes washers when fully loaded. This will save energy and water.
Shorter showers are more energy-efficient than baths.
Repair leaking faucets
Warm-water leaks should be given immediate attention because they can raise your energy bill rapidly.
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.
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, make the compressor work harder, and increase energy costs.
To make the most efficient use of your dryer, dry the 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.
Turn it off
Computers do not last long 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.
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 for greater energy savings.
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 help with saving energy by running cooler and thus reduce the need for air-conditioning.