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Residential Energy-Saving Tips The following are great tips to save on energy costs, some of them are easy and low cost and any homeowner with a hammer and screwdriver can do in a weekend or less to start saving on costly utility bills.

  • Replace and recycle your old refrigerator and purchase energy-efficient models. Units that are only 10 years old can use twice as much as electricity as a new ENERGY STAR® labeled model.
  • Insulate ceilings to at least R-30 standards if your attic has less than R-19.
  • Caulk around windows and doors and anywhere air leaks in or out, especially around outlets and other openings like plumbing pipes. Be careful not to caulk around exhaust vents, pipes or other things of this nature like you find with a gas hot water heater or furnace. There is a special fire-resistant caulk available for these applications.
  • Weatherstrip around windows and doors and other openings.
  • Wrap heating and cooling ducts with duct wrap, or use mastic sealant.
  • Install energy-saver showerheads. This is can be a very easy, fast and cheap DYI (Do it yourself) project to cut costs, especially if you have kids!
  • When buying new appliances, be sure to purchase energy-efficient ENERGY STAR® labeled models.

  • Set the furnace thermostat at 68 degrees or lower during cold weather, and the air-conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees or higher when it's hot. Three to five percent more energy is used for each degree the furnace is set above 68 degrees and for each degree the air conditioner is set below 78 degrees.

  • If your old air conditioner is on its way out replace it with ENERGY STAR® labeled energy-efficient model. For central air, be sure to have timely maintenance checks done and that the system is not overcharged or undercharged with refrigerant. Most of us use HVAC or heating and cooling contractors that handle this, but keeping an eye on what they are doing is recommended. There is a tag on your unit that specifies how much refrigerant, in pounds, should be in the unit. This amount plus consideration for length of the lines is the idea here. Too much refrigerant and your compressor is overworked and fails prematurely. Not enough and the whole system has to work longer to cool your house. So the correct amount is imperative here, DON'T be afraid to watch and ask questions. If your HVAC contractor is disatisified with your involvment, you have the wrong contractor anyway.

  • Use compact fluorescent lamps. You can lower your lighting bill by converting to energy-efficient low-wattage compact fluorescent lighting and fixtures.

  • Replace old windows with new high performance dual pane windows. Be sure to observe the "Low-E" rating or inquire to your contractor that he is using windows that utilize low-e.

  • Clean or replace furnace and air-conditioner filters regularly, following manufacturer's instructions.

  • Set the water heater thermostat at 140 degrees or "normal." If you have a dishwasher. Otherwise, set it at 120 degrees or "low".

  • Fix bad plumbing or dripping faucets. A single dripping hot water faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of water a month. That not only increases water bills, but also increases the gas or electric bill for heating the water.

  • Wash only full loads in a dishwasher and use the shortest cycle that will get your dishes clean. If operating instructions allow, turn off the dishwasher before the drying cycle, open the door and let the dishes air dry.
  • Defrost refrigerators and freezers before ice buildup becomes 1/4 inch thick.

  • Install shades, awnings or sunscreens on windows facing south and/or west to block summer light. In winter, open shades on sunny days to help warm rooms.

  • Close the damper when the fireplace is not being used. Try not to use the fireplace and central heating system at the same time.

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