Home Energy Savings tips to help lower your electric bill

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By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer Published: May 16th, 2011


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- 101 Low-Cost / No-Cost Home Energy-Saving Measures for South Carolina
PDF version: English - En Español



- Energy Tips: Save energy and help lower your electric bill.


- Calculators to help evaluate a home's energy use and need for energy-efficient improvements from the US Department of Energy

- A home energy yard stick that compares a home’s energy use with others across the country and gives recommendations for improvement from Energy Star


101 Low-Cost / No-Cost Home Energy-Saving Measures for South Carolina

  • Water Heating

  • 1. Set water heater temperature no higher than 120° F.
    2. For households with 1 or 2 members, a 115°F setting may work fine.
    3. Install water-heater wrap per manufacturer’s instructions.
    4. Drain 1–2 gallons from bottom of water heater each year to reduce sediment build-up.
    5. Install heat traps on hot and cold water lines when it’s time to replace your water heater.
    6. Insulate exposed hot water lines.
    7. Limit shower length to 5–7 minutes.
    8. Install low-flow shower heads.
    9. Fix dripping faucets.
    10. Don’t let water run while you are shaving.
    11. Don’t let water run while brushing your teeth.
  • Laundry

  • 12.Wash clothes in cold water. Use hot water only for very dirty loads.
    13. Do only full laundry loads.
    14. If you must do smaller loads, adjust the water level in the washing machine to match the load size, especially when using hot water.
    15. Always use cold-water rinse.
    16. Use bath towels at least twice before washing them.
    17. Clean your dryer’s lint trap before each load.
    18. Make sure that the outdoor dryer exhaust door closes when dryer is off.
    19. Verify dryer vent hose is tightly connected to inside wall fitting.
    20. Check that the dryer vent hose is tightly connected to dryer.
    21. Make sure dryer vent hose is not kinked or clogged.
    22. Minimize clothes drying time; use moisture sensor on dryer if available.
    23. Dry consecutive loads to harvest heat remaining in dryer from last load.
    24. Consider using a “solar-powered” clothes dryer, an old-fashioned clothes line.
  • Kitchen

  • 25. Use your refrigerator’s anti-sweat feature only if necessary.
    26. Switch your refrigerator’s power-saver to “ON,” if available.
    27. Clean refrigerator coils annually.
    28. Set the refrigerator temperature to 34°– 37°F and freezer temperature to 0°– 5°F.
    29. Ensure gaskets around door seal tightly.
    30. Unplug unused refrigerators or freezers.
    31. Use microwave for cooking when possible.
    32.When cooking on the range, use pot lids to help food cook faster.
    33. If you are heating water, use hot tap water instead of cold.
    34. Remember to use the kitchen exhaust fan when cooking and turn it off after cooking.
    35. Let hot food cool before storing it in the refrigerator.
    36. Rinse dirty dishes with cold water before putting them into the dishwasher.
    37. Use cold water for garbage disposal.
    38. Only run dishwater when fully loaded.
    39. Use air-dry cycle instead of heat-dry cycle to dry dishes.
  • Lighting

  • 40. Replace any light bulb that burns more than one hour per day with its equivalent compact fluorescent bulb or LED bulb.
    41. Turn off unnecessary lighting.
    42. Replace outdoor lighting with its outdoor-rated equivalent compact fluorescent bulb.
    43. Use fixtures with electronic ballasts and T-8, 32-Watt fluorescent lamps.
    44. Use outdoor security lights with a photocell and/or a motion sensor.
  • Miscellaneous

  • 45. Turn computers and monitors off when not in use.
    46. Make sure electric blankets are turned off in the morning.
    47. Turn waterbed heater off when not needed.
    48. Turn large-screen TV’s off completely when not in use.
    49. Turn off stereos and radios when not in use.
    50. Remember to turn off hair curling irons and hot rollers.
    51. Turn off coffee makers when not in use.
    52. Turn off pool pump and/or heater when not needed.
    53. Verify livestock water tank heaters are off when not needed.
    54. Make sure heat tape is off when not needed.
    55. Unplug battery chargers when not needed.
    56. Ensure all new appliances you purchase are Energy Star-approved.
  • Heating & Air Conditioning

  • 57. Set thermostats to 78°F in summer, 68°F in winter.
    58. Run ceiling paddle fans on medium, blowing down in summer.
    59. Run ceiling paddle fans on low, blowing up in winter.
    60. Change HVAC filters monthly.
    61.When installing new air filters, make sure they are facing in the correct direction. (Look for arrow on side of filter.)
    62.When heating or cooling, keep windows locked.
    63. Insulate electric wall plugs and wall switches with foam pads.
    64. Caulk along baseboards with a clear sealant.
    65. Close fireplace dampers when not burning a fire.
    66. Caulk around plumbing penetrations that come through walls beneath bathroom and kitchen sinks.
    67. Caulk electrical wire penetrations at the top of the interior walls.
    68. Close shades and drapes at night to keep heat in during the winter.
    69. Make sure drapes and shades are open to catch free solar heat in the winter.
    70. Close shades and drapes during the day to help keep heat out during summer.
    71. Ensure attic access door closes tightly.
    72. Insulate attic access door.
    73. Make sure insulation in your attic does not block soffit vents.
    74. Do not close off unused rooms that are conditioned by forced-air systems.
    75. Do not close supply air registers.
    76. Ensure return air grilles are not blocked by furniture or bookcases.
    77. Ensure windows and doors are properly weather-stripped.
    78. Make sure outside soffit vents are not blocked.
    79. Do not use roof-top power ventilators for attic exhaust as they may evacuate conditioned air from your home.
    80. Have your HVAC system serviced once per year by a NATE-certified technician.
    81. Monitor your home’s relative humidity in the summer. If it consistently stays in the 60-percent range or higher, ask your HVAC technician about lowering your central air conditioning unit’s indoor fan speed.
    82. Ensure window A/C units are weather-stripped.
    83. Ensure windows with window mounted A/C units have weather-stripping between the middle of the top and bottom pane.
    84. Remove and clean window A/C filter monthly.
    85. Keep “fresh-air” vents on window A/C units closed.
    86. Minimize use of electric space heaters.
    87.When using the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening damper in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly.
    88. Caulk around basement windows.
    89. In a basement, seal the sill and band joist with durable caulking or foam sealant.
    90. Ensure floor registers are not blocked with rugs, drapes or furniture.
    91. Ensure your outdoor heat pump / air conditioning unit is kept clean and free of debris.
    92. Outside your home, caulk around all penetrations including telephone, electrical, cable, gas, water spigots, dryer vents, etc.
    93. Caulk around storm windows.
    94. Use heavy-duty, clear sheets of plastic on the inside of windows to reduce the amount of cold air entering your home.
    95. Verify your supply air duct “boots” (behind supply air registers) are caulked to your ceiling or wall sheetrock or flooring.
    96. If in unconditioned space, verify your ducts are tightly connected to your HVAC equipment.
    97. Verify all outdoor doors (including storm doors) close and seal tightly.
    98. In two-story homes serviced by one HVAC system, a paddle fan at the top of the stairs can push down hot, second-floor air.
    99. Install 15 minute, springwound timers on bathroom ventilator fans.
    100. Always run your HVAC system fan on “AUTO.” Running it on “ON” uses more electricity and can decrease your air conditioner’s ability to remove moisture.
    101. Keep your garage door down. A warmer garage in the winter and cooler garage in the summer will save energy.

Energy Tips

Here are some tips from Aiken Electric Cooperative to help you save energy for heating, cooling, lighting and cooking at your home.

You and your neighbor can live in homes that are exactly alike, yet depending on how you use energy in your home, one of you could be spending twice as much as the other each month.

In the average American home, space heating makes up about 49% of energy use, appliances and lighting about 28%, and water heating about 16%.This is according to research by the Edison Electric Institute.

If you’re a homeowner or a renter, we hope some of these tips will increase your comfort and enjoyment of your home, as well as help save energy and the environment!


• Insulate your home as much as you can. That makes a big difference, whether for heating or cooling.

• Set your air-conditioning thermostat at the highest temperature setting at which you’re comfortable. Cooling costs can be reduced by about five percent for every two degrees higher you set your unit. Keep heat-producing items like televisions and lamps away from thermostats.

• Light bulbs produce heat. Keep them off during the day as much as you can. Drapes, blinds and shades should be closed during the hottest hours.

• Humidity is a factor. Take baths and wash dishes early in the morning or in the evening instead of during the day. Use an outside clothesline to avoid adding heat to your house during the hottest months.

• If you have a powered roof ventilator, turn it off. Experts have learned there are more negative effects than positive benefits of their use. In the warm months, it draws cooled air from inside your home into the hot attic and can cause humidity to be drawn into the home.

• Use an air-conditioner with an efficiency rating of 13 or higher. Window units are rated by their Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER), while central systems use a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). Use the proper size because bigger is not always better.

• Maintain cooling systems properly. Clean or replace filters regularly. Window units generally have filters behind the front panel, and they need to be cleaned with soap and water. Use a brush to clean the coils on outside heat exchangers.


• Microwave ovens use less than half the power of a conventional oven. So do electric skillets and toaster ovens.

• Don’t preheat the oven unless it’s necessary. Many foods don’t require it. And no peeking! Each time you open the door, you lower the temperature by 25 to 50 degrees.

• Use cold water in the garbage disposal. It’s better for the unit and uses less energy.

• A dishwasher is more energy efficient than washing by hand. Open the door and let the load air dry to save electricity. Wash only full loads!

• For the refrigerator and freezer, the most efficient settings are 40 degrees and 0 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. A full refrigerator or freezer uses less energy.

• Refrigerator and freezer doors need to be airtight. Replace the gaskets if they are cracking or drying out.

• It’s more energy efficient to let food cool slightly before putting it in the refrigerator. Don’t put uncovered liquids in the refrigerator because it will work harder to remove the moisture.

• Keep your dryer lint filter clean and have the exhaust duct cleaned annually. This saves energy and reduces fire hazard.

• Wash clothes with cool water when possible and always rinse in cold water. If you can’t set your washing machine for the size of load, wait until you have a full load.

• The soak cycle saves energy. Don’t over-wash; ten minutes is usually enough for even the dirtiest of clothes.


• Sodium vapor lights are a good option for outdoor use. They consume less energy for the same light output as incandescent bulbs and they last longer.

• Landscaping also can make a difference. A line of fast-growing trees, like poplars, or tall shrubs can serve as a windbreak. Planting evergreen trees on the north side and deciduous trees on the south side of a home can block winter winds and summer sun. Shrubs along the house can help, too, but don’t let them interfere with heat pumps or air conditioners.

• Make sure shrubs and weeds don’t interfere with outside heat pump or furnace units, which should be hosed down periodically to remove leaves, grass clippings, dust and dirt. Be aware that fire ants can damage outside heat pumps and air-conditioning units.


• It does not save money to close registers in unused rooms with central heating and ductwork. Your system was designed to work its best when warm air flows unimpeded throughout the house. (And cool air, too, if you have a heat pump.) Also, make sure furniture, appliances or drapes do not block return registers.

• Place lamps in corners to reflect light from two walls instead of one. Light-colored walls reflect more light than dark walls, so less light is needed. Use task lighting, focused where you need it rather than lighting an entire room.

• Fluorescent bulbs far outlast incandescent bulbs and can be found to fit most standard fixtures. If you use them in places where you use bulbs that operate four or more hours a day, your investment in the more expensive fluorescent bulbs will more than pay for itself in a couple of years.

• Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are four times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.

• Turn off incandescent bulbs when you leave a room, they produce heat and burn out faster. But leave on fluorescent bulbs if you’re going to be gone 15 minutes or less. It takes more energy to turn them on than it does to just let them run, and it wears out the bulb faster.

• Keep your oven top, pots and pans spic and span. Shiny reflector pans under your stove burners help focus the heat more efficiently. Tight-fitting lids produce results faster by not letting heat escape, allowing you to use less heat and less water. You can turn the heat off earlier, since it’s retained longer.

• Computer equipment is the fastest-growing category of electricity use in the home. Consider turning off computer and home entertainment equipment if you’re not going to be using it for a while.

• Set water heaters at 120-140 degrees. Insulate pipes when possible. In large homes, consider using smaller heaters in different areas.