Saving Energy

Here are some things to consider doing. Some items may not be applicable to you.

  • Turn off lights, appliances, equipment, etc. when they’re not needed
  • Turn computers, printers and other peripherals off at the power strip when they’re not needed (if they’re plugged into a power strip, switch off the power strip after shutting down your computer)
  • Put computers, etc. on the energy-saver mode
  • Unplug electronic devices and chargers with block-shaped transformer on the plug when they’re not needed

Cold Weather:

  • Install a clock thermostat or set-back thermostat to automatically change thermostat settings at certain times of the day, e.g., set your clock thermostat off or no higher than 55 degrees for the night and when you’re not in the house, and, no higher than 68 degrees for the time right before you awake (heat pumps should only be set back five degrees to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heater)
  • Turn off heating to rooms/areas which don’t need it or close the heating vents
  • Keep warm indoors by wearing warm clothing, especially several lightweight layers
  • If you often use one room, consider using a portable electric heater instead of central heating
  • Seal (e.g., with rope caulk, weather-stripping) the largest air leaks in your home (the ones that feel drafty or whistle on windy days), e.g.:
    • leaky windows and doors
    • around pipes, ducts, fans and vents that go through walls, ceilings and floors from heated to unheated spaces (do not caulk around water heater and furnace exhaust pipes)
    • gaps around chimneys
    • recessed lights in insulated ceilings
    • unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets
  • Put towels or rugs against the bottom of doors to the outside or unheated rooms
  • Insulate windows with clear plastic sheets or film covers
  • Install storm or thermal (replacement) windows, preferably with super-efficient low-emissivity glazing
  • Seal off electric receptacles and switch boxes with foam gaskets or fiberglass insulation
  • Install proper ceiling/attic insulation to at least R-30 standards
  • Insulate walls, floors and heating ducts
  • Get your ducts tested for air leakage
  • Check your furnace/heat pump periodically to improve air flow and allow more efficient operation:
    • turn off the power source
    • visually inspect the furnace
    • vacuum away lint, dirt or other obstructions
    • clean/replace the filters as necessary
  • When using your heater, crack open a window so it has enough air to operate
  • Have a professional clean, lubricate and adjust your furnace
  • Turn your heater(s) off when you’re using your fireplace
  • Close the damper when you’re not using the fireplace

During the day:

  • Open drapes/shutters/blinds on windows facing the sun

At night:

  • Close drapes/shutters/blinds to retain indoor heat

Warm Weather:

  • Turn off your air conditioner when no one is home and at night, and, set it at 78 degrees or higher when you’re at home
  • When feasible, turn off your air conditioner and provide air flow by open windows on opposite sides of your house (if it won’t increase risk of someone breaking into your house)
  • Install a clock thermostat or set-back thermostat to automatically set your thermostat to 85 degrees at night and when you are away
  • Use room fans
  • Turn off your furnace pilot light during the non-heating season
  • Use exterior shading devices (e.g., awnings, overhangs, patio cover) or deciduous plants to shade your home, windows and air conditioning condenser from the sun

During the Day:

  • Close shutters/drapes/blinds on windows facing the sun

Around Your Home:

  • When heating or cooling, ensure windows and doors are closed
  • Consider replacing your furnace, heat pump, air conditioner and other appliances with energy-efficient models
  • Seal any leaks in your heating/cooling system(s) ducts and in water/steam heat pipes with duct wrap or mastic sealant
  • Insulate attic access and basement trap doors with R-19 insulation
  • Install and use ceiling fans – they cool rooms during hot weather and push warm air down to where you need it during cold weather
  • Unplug and recycle your extra refrigerator/freezer
  • Use low-wattage light bulbs
  • Use dimmer switches or timers on lights
  • Clean or replace furnace and air-conditioner filters regularly
  • Fix defective plumbing or dripping faucets
  • Install low-flow shower heads and faucets or install flow restrictors
  • Turn off all landscape lights
  • Request a free energy audit from your utility company
  • Consider having your home converted to use solar energy

Water Heater:

  • Reduce the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees F (or 140 degrees F if your dishwasher needs it)
  • Install an insulating blanket around your water heater, especially if it’s in an unheated area of your home


  • Use the energy-saving settings on your washer and dryer
  • Only do full loads
  • Use cold water settings on the washer when feasible
  • Clean your dryer’s lint trap before/after each use
  • Line-dry clothes (especially towels) when feasible


  • Use the energy-saving settings on your refrigerator and dishwasher
  • Put a thermometer in your refrigerator/freezer to check the temperature
  • Keep refrigerator/freezer doors closed as much as feasible
  • Keep refrigerator coils (on the back or the bottom of the appliance) clean
  • Defrost your refrigerator/freezer before ice buildup becomes 1/4-inch thick
  • Only preheat your oven if necessary
  • Use the smaller of the two ovens if you have a dual unit
  • Cook complete meals of several dishes simultaneously in the oven
  • Cook on range top burners when practical instead of in the oven
  • Use a lid when boiling water, etc.
  • To reheat food or to cook small amounts of food, use your microwave
  • Only wash full loads in the dishwasher
  • Air-dry your dishes instead of using the dishwasher’s heater
  • When hand washing dishes, rinse with cold water

Swimming Pool:

  • Reduce pool water temperature and the number of months you heat your pool
  • Use a pool cover – 70% of pool heat loss is by evaporation
  • Shorten the operating time for your swimming pool filter and automatic cleaning sweep
  • Switch the pool filter and sweeper operations to off-peak hours (between 6 p.m. and noon)
  • Keep pool cleaning and heating equipment clean and lubricated
  • Consider replacing pool pumps and motors with updated, more efficient equipment


  • Cover your waterbed with bedspreads or quilts as soon as you get up
  • Put a layer of cardboard between the bed and the frame or use an insulation kit designed for waterbeds – to reduce heat loss


  • Walk, ride a bike, use public transit or car pool instead of driving when feasible
  • Plan ahead to combine trips
  • Work out of your home as much as feasible (e.g., tele-commute, go to workplace for fewer days but longer hours)
  • Use your most efficient vehicle when feasible
  • Keep your vehicle in good operating condition (tuned up, emissions system checked, tires properly inflated) or buy a new fuel-efficient vehicle (e.g., electric)
  • Avoid quick starts
  • Drive slower
  • Avoid idling your vehicle for long periods


  • Buy the most energy-efficient models when buying appliances, e.g., refrigerator, washer, dryer
  • Buy compact fluorescent lamps to replace incandescent bulbs


  • Shut off or turn down automatic appliances such as your water heater and furnace/air conditioner

College students:

  • How Colleges and Their Students Are Boosting Sustainability:


  • Ask your local officials to take actions to save energy (e.g., install energy-efficient street lights, ensure businesses to turn off lights when closed)


Thanks for reading!