Energy Efficiency Tips

How We Use Energy
Energy Saving Tips
Residential Energy Efficiency Programs


This chart shows how we use energy in our homes. Note that the majority of energy is used by heating.   This chart shows you how much energy is used by different types of appliances.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, AEO2014 Early Release Overview.
Source: Department of Energy


Misconception #1: “Now that I have solar, it doesn’t matter how much electricity I use because it’s all free.”
Truth: Solar panels will only produce a certain amount of electricity. If you use more electricity than the solar panels produce, you’ll pay for any additional electricity you use.

Misconception #2: “Now that I have solar, I’ll save money by switching to an electric dryer and heater.”
Truth: Heating (air or water) with electricity can be expensive. Your system was designed based on your current electricity usage, so any additional usage will be taken from the grid and billed by your utility.

Misconception #3: "Leaving my air conditioning set at 78 or 80 degrees when the house is empty costs less than leaving it turned off, and then cooling the house down when I get home." 
Truth: Turning off your air conditioning when you are not at home saves the most money.

Misconception #4: “I shouldn’t use compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) because they have mercury.”
Truth: CFLs do contain small amounts of mercury, which is toxic. However, the amount of mercury emissions that a CFL will offset during its life is greater than the amount of mercury in the CFL. If you use CFLs, it is important to dispose of them properly. Recycle bulbs at your local hardware store and handle broken bulbs with care (ventilate the area and do not directly touch broken pieces). A safer and better value for your money is to use LED light bulbs, which are non-toxic and more affordable than CFLs. See the Lighting section for a chart comparing different kinds of light bulbs.

Misconception #5: “When I switch off an appliance no more electric power is being used.”
Truth: Many electronic devices and appliances are designed to draw some power even when switched off or in a standby mode. This type of electric consumption is called phantom load. Phantom load can cost the average home $200 per year. (Source:$100-or-more.html)

Devices that draw power when turned off include phone chargers, computers, microwaves, TVs, DVD players, game consoles, printers, and coffee makers.

Phantom load can be stopped by unplugging these devices when not in use. Even easier, you can plug these appliance into a power strip and turn off the power strip. Make the process even more efficient by separating the frequently-used electronics from seldom-used ones.

Other ways to stop or reduce phantom load:

  • Unplug electronics when you’re away for vacations or business trips. Even this occasional savings can add up.
  • Unplug your highest energy consuming appliances (see chart below).

Kichen Gas Range 1.13 W $1.14
  Coffee Maker 1.14 W $1.15
  Microwave 3.08 W $3.11
  Audio Minisystem 8.32 W $8.39
Living Room TV 6.6 W $6.65
  DVD/VCR 5.04 W $5.08
  Audio Reciever 2.92 W $2.94
  Subwoofer 10.7 W $10.79
  CD Player 5.94 W $5.08
  Set-top Box DVR 36.68 W $36.98
  Set-tip Box Digital Cable 17.5 W $17.64
  Game Console 1.10 W $1.02
Bedroom Air Conditioner 0.9 W $0.91
  Mobile Phone Charger 0.26 W $0.26
  Clock Radio 2.01 W $2.03



Space Heating

  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as recommended.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Eliminate trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; contact a professional if you need help.
  • During winter, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to keep the heat in.
  • When purchasing a furnace, look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum is 78% AFUE, but there are ENERGY STAR® models on the market that exceed 90% AFUE.

Water Heating

  • Reduce water heater temperature to 130° F to save energy and money on heating water.
  • Wrap the water storage tank in a specially-designed blanket to retain the heat.
  • Wash clothes in cold water to save $63 a year.


  • Consider unplugging or recycling secondary refrigerators.
  • Consider replacing old refrigerators to save around 25% on refrigeration energy costs. The current refrigerator standards represent a 25% energy savings relative to previous models. 




  • During summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to block the sun's heat.
  • Avoid placing appliances that give off heat, such as lamps or TVs, near a thermostat.
  • Get a programmable thermostat and set it to 78°F when you are at home and higher when out of the house. For every degree you increase your heating and cooling, you increase your energy use by around 5 to 10%.
  • When purchasing an air conditioner, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The current minimum is 13 SEER for central air conditioners. ENERGY STAR models are 14.5 SEER or more.


  • Turn off all lights, appliances and electronics when not in use. A power strip can help turn off multiple items at once.
  • Use low-flow faucets, shower heads, and take shorter showers to save on energy and water bills.
  • For dishwashers and washing machine: run full loads, be mindful of temperature settings and try air drying dishes and clothes when possible.  

Department of Energy:
Alliance to Save Energy -




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