Save at the pump. Go further on a gallon of gas by driving gently at the posted speed limit and avoiding jackrabbit starts. Keep tires properly inflated and aligned for improved gas mileage, longer tire life, and personal safety.
Listen to Mom and put on a sweater. Next time you feel cold, try adding an extra layer of clothing instead of turning up the thermostat. On a chilly night, throw an extra blanket on the bed, and turn the thermostat back to reduce the length of time the heating system operates and save energy dollars.
Let your LED lights shine. This holiday season, switch to LED Christmas lights that use 70% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Also, there are no moving parts, filaments or glass so LEDs are much more durable if you drop or step on them. How to recycle Christmas lights
Make that a cold one. Use cold water for washing clothes whenever possible. About 90% of the energy used to run a top-load washing machine is for heating the water. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half, and cold is even better.
Beware of phantom energy. Phantom energy is the term for electronics (such as cell phone chargers or computers) drawing energy even when they are turned off. Prevent wasted energy by plugging electronics into a surge protector. Click the surge switch off at night or when the items are not being used.
Tanks need blankets—even in the summer. When you go home tonight, touch your water heater. If it feels warm, you can save money by installing an insulation wrap (blanket). Insulation wraps are inexpensive ($10- $20 at local hardware stores) and easy to install.
Idling is getting you nowhere. Save fuel and reduce emissions by turning off your engine when you are parked or stopped (except in traffic) for more than a minute. Avoid idling at drive-thrus by walking inside.
Cook up some savings. Save time and energy in the kitchen by using the smallest appliance possible. Toaster ovens, microwaves, and slow cookers use less power than a conventional oven.
Set the mood for savings Dimmer controls save energy by allowing you to reduce lighting levels. The electric cost savings is nearly equal to the amount that you dim the lights. For example, you save about 20 percent of the electricity normally used when you dim a light by 25 percent. Some CFL or LED bulbs are not dimmable, so read the package label carefully when selecting bulbs.
Cruise to savings When driving on the highway, use your vehicle’s cruise control option to improve fuel efficiency by maintaining a consistent speed. According to Edmunds Inc., the average fuel savings for using cruise control is 7 percent, but you can save up to 14 percent depending on your vehicle.
Brighten up with light strips Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs are expensive to buy, but can last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. LED light strips work well for accent lighting such as under a kitchen cabinet or inside a curio cabinet. The strips are quiet (no fluorescent buzzing), easy to install and cool to the touch.
Use balls instead of sheets . Instead of using disposable dryer sheets or chemical fabric softeners, try reusable dryer balls. You can buy plastic or wool dryer balls that can be used countless times. By circulating around inside the dryer and separating the clothing, dryer balls can decrease drying time, soften fabric and reduce wrinkles.
Blow out your hot air. Make sure your dryer is vented to the outside to reduce the workload on your home air conditioner. While the dryer is operating, check the outside vent to make sure exhaust air is escaping. If not, the vent or exhaust duct may be blocked. If necessary, disconnect the exhaust duct from the dryer and remove the blockage.
Check out Kill-a-Watt. Borrow a Kill-a-Watt™ energy monitor from your local library for free. The monitor measures how much energy the devices in your home are using, whether on or off. Simply plug an electrical device into the monitor and view a reading of the energy usage. Use this data to make energy choices, such as determining if it’s time for a new refrigerator or if it is worthwhile to unplug your cell phone charger after use. Kill-a-Watt classes (free)
Save three ways. Select three-way light bulbs to reduce energy and increase your lighting options. With a multi-watt bulb, one living room lamp can provide low light for a social gathering, medium light for TV watching or high light for hand sewing. Save even more energy by purchasing compact fluorescent three-way bulbs.
Tune up your A/C. Contact a local heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor to schedule an annual inspection and cleaning. Running an inefficient system can result in higher monthly bills. Regular inspections can keep your system running properly and prevent small problems from ballooning into large expensive problems.
Cook with copper. For energy efficiency, select copper-bottomed pots and pans. Copper cookware tends to heat up faster and retain heat more effectively than other types of cookware. Also, most copper cookware is long lasting and may end up being passed down from one generation to the next.
Run a laundry marathon. A warm dryer uses less energy. Wash and dry several loads in a row to take advantage of retained heat in the dryer. Also avoid opening the dryer door unnecessarily during the cycle since this lets warm air escape and extends the drying time.
Cook like Grandma. Although pressure cookers may sound old-fashioned, today’s models are safe, versatile, energy-saving devices that cook significantly faster than a conventional oven. A pressure cooker can transform inexpensive items such as tough cuts of meat or dried beans into a delicious meal. The shorter cooking time also retains more of the vitamins and nutrients.
Get an accurate reading. Buy an oven thermometer to determine if your oven’s built-in sensor is accurate. If not, you can make a service call, or simply factor the difference into your cooking. For example, if your oven runs 25 degrees hot, you can set the temperature 25 degrees lower. Use a meat thermometer to determine when meat, such as a roast, is done..
Reward the savings. Get the whole family involved in saving energy by keeping track of the dollars spent monthly on electricity or gas. Children can help with tasks such as turning off the lights, computer or TV when not in use. Reward family members for energy savings with a treat such as dinner out or a movie night.
Start with the top five. Save over $65 per year in energy costs by replacing your five most frequently used incandescent light bulbs in your house with Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs. CFLs provide the most savings for lights that are on for at least two hours a day. Move incandescent bulbs to an area that is lit only briefly, such as a closet.
Limit preheating. Avoid preheating the oven longer than necessary. Recipes often suggest turning on the oven first, which may be a waste of energy if it’s a complicated recipe. Experiment with your oven, but 10 or 15 minutes is usually sufficient for the oven to reach temperature. Turning the temperature higher than needed will not make the oven reach temperature faster.
Keep it covered. Cover food prior to storing it in the refrigerator to limit moisture evaporation. Your refrigerator won’t have to work as hard, and—as an added bonus—it will smell better. Divide large items, such as a pot of soup or a whole chicken, into covered containers or airtight bags before refrigerating for more efficient cooling.
Dry dishes with air instead of heat. Most new dishwashers offer an “Air-Dry” setting to dry dishes with circulating air rather than an electric heating element. This feature can cut your dishwasher’s energy use by 15 to 50 percent. If you don’t have this setting, turn the dishwasher off after the final rinse, and open the door to air dry the dishes. Use a rinse aid to reduce spotting on glasses.
Think before opening car windows. When driving slowly around town, turn off the air conditioner and roll down the windows to save energy. However, open windows create drag on a fast-moving vehicle, so when driving 40 mph or more, you can save fuel by rolling the windows up and running the A/C. The car’s fresh air vents are an energy-wise option to keep cool at any speed.
Keep your freezer stocked. A freezer full of food uses less energy than an empty one because it reduces temperature fluctuations. If you don’t have enough food on hand, you can fill unused spaces in your freezer with plastic containers of water to minimize the loss of cold air when the door is opened. If you have a power outage, the frozen containers will help keep the food chilled.
Resist the urge to peek. Avoid opening the oven door repeatedly to check on food while it’s cooking. Each time you open the door, the temperature can drop by 25 degrees, requiring additional energy to reheat the oven. Instead, turn on the interior light and look through the window of the oven door.
Keep conserving while on vacation. Continue your home energy-saving habits when on vacation by turning off hotel lights, appliances and air conditioner/heating units when not needed. This is a good way to keep family members on track with sustainable practices. Also, in the long run, the hotel’s energy bills will be passed on to guests like you.
Keep air vents flowing. Do a walk-through of your house to check each air vent. Move any furniture, drapes or other items that are blocking air vents. Also check for obstructions if you use baseboard heating units or radiators. Free air flow is necessary for efficient heating and cooling.
Light up the night. Use solar lighting if possible. Fluorescent light bulbs are another good option to save energy with outdoor lighting. You can utilize motion sensors so the lights will only turn on when someone is present. For example, instead of leaving a porch light turned on for hours, a sensor can automatically flip the light on when you arrive home after dark. More info (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Reduce dry time. Avoid over-drying your clothes which wastes energy and can create static or wrinkling. Some clothes dryers offer a moisture sensor which automatically shuts off the machine when clothes are dry, or you can use a timer as a reminder to remove clothes promptly. Cut drying time by selecting a high spin speed or extended spin option on the washing machine to reduce the moisture left in the clothes.
Fight wall drafts. Stop losing energy through air leakage in your wall switches and outlets located on exterior walls. Foam inserts are inexpensive and easy to install. Simply remove the electrical switch or outlet plate, insert a precut insulator and replace the plate.
Close the gap. Door sweeps don’t actually “sweep” anything, but they can save you money. Doors are constructed with a gap at the bottom to allow for smooth motion. To prevent air conditioning or heat from escaping through the gap, install a sweep at the base of the door. If you feel air entering or see light under the door, a sweep will definitely save energy.
Check the EPEAT rating. When buying a new computer, look for an EPEAT rating. The EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) system evaluates computers according to three tiers of performance—Bronze, Silver and Gold—based on 51 environmental criteria, including energy efficiency, product longevity, materials selection, packaging and recycled content.
Go portable. For your next computer upgrade, consider buying a laptop instead of a desktop PC. Laptops save energy by utilizing the most efficient displays, adapters, hard disks and central processing units available. Although laptops cost more than desktop units, they generally offer a lower total cost of ownership over the average product life of five years.
Keep bulbs bright. Dust off light bulbs and fixtures periodically. Over time, dirt accumulates and reduces illumination while the lamp continues to draw full power. Be sure the bulb is turned off and cool to the touch before wiping it gently with a damp rag to prevent the bulb from shattering. Vacuuming lamp shades also helps boost the light level in a room.
Get the lint out. Take a moment to clean the dryer’s lint screen after every load of laundry. This small task improves air circulation and boosts your dryer’s efficiency. Also, excessive lint can block air flow, causing heat buildup that could result in a fire. Clean the lint screen periodically with a small amount of detergent, nylon brush or toothbrush, and hot running water.
Double up when cooking. Save time and energy by cooking more than one meal at a time. Before using the oven, plan ahead so you can cook several meals at once. Check your recipes to ensure that both dishes bake at about the same temperature. Another idea is to double a recipe, eat one, and freeze the other. Weekends are a great time to cook ahead for the week.
Get regular tune-ups. Invest in an annual tune-up for your vehicle to prevent costly repairs and boost gas mileage. Tune-ups increase mileage by an average of four percent, but detection of a serious maintenance problem such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage up to 40 percent. In addition to an engine tune-up, it’s important to change oil and filters regularly.
Grill out. Grill food outdoors instead of using the oven. The heat of your oven can force your air conditioning unit to work harder and raise your cooling bill, particularly on a hot summer day. Plus, cooking on a gas or charcoal grill is a great way to enjoy being outside!
Give your water heater a vacation too. Next time you go on vacation, turn your water heater down or off. For a gas heater, don’t turn off the pilot light; simply adjust the temperature control to the lowest level or “vacation” setting if available. For an electric heater, turn the unit off at the circuit breaker or fuse box. The longer you are away from home, the more you will save.
Pull the plug on your second fridge. Think about getting rid of the energy-hogging refrigerator in your hot garage. Unless you keep the refrigerator full, the electric cost of running a second refrigerator is rarely worth the storage benefits. Refrigerators have gotten much more efficient, and an old refrigerator may use up to 60% more energy than a new model. Refrigerator disposal
Save energy with pots and pans. Match your pot size to the stove’s burner size. Heat is lost when small pots are used on large burners, For example, a 6" pot on an 8" burner wastes over 40% of the burner's heat. Also, use tight-fitting covers on pots and pans to shorten cooking time.
Don’t fool your thermostat. Keep heat-generating devices, such as a television or lamp, away from the thermostat. Your thermostat can sense heat from these appliances and register the room temperature as warmer than it actually is, causing your air conditioner to work harder than is necessary.
Keep the home fires burning (efficiently). Close your fireplace damper unless you have a fire going. Otherwise, the warm air in your room will be lost up the chimney. You can make your fireplace more efficient by installing glass doors or a heat-air exchange system to blow warm air into the room. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. Tips to save energy in winter (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Get energy tax credits. Install energy-efficient windows, doors, insulation, air conditioners, heat pumps, or water heaters; and you can deduct some of the cost. Federal tax credits are available at 30 percent of the cost up to $1,500. More info (Environmental Protection Agency)
Test your refrigerator seal. A leaky refrigerator seal can waste energy. The seal is the molded rubber gasket on the door designed to keep heat out. Test the seal by closing the door on a protruding dollar bill. Pull the bill out slowly; there should be a slight drag on the bill. If you can easily remove the dollar bill while the door is closed, you may need to replace the seal.
Plan more, drive less. Combine errands to reduce driving time. For example, return books to the library on the way to the grocery store. If possible, park in one spot and walk between destinations that are near one another. A little extra planning before getting in your vehicle can save gas and money.
Sign up for EnergyWise. Save up to $145 annually with Progress Energy’s EnergyWise Program (888-282-9757). A small device is installed that reduces your home’s energy consumption during peak demand. The device adjusts your water heater and heating/cooling system. Most participants never notice the brief, infrequent cycles.
Lighten your load. Increase fuel economy by removing excess weight. Every 100 pounds of extra weight decreases gas mileage by about 2%. Clean out your trunk, and remove a roof rack that is not being used. Also, try to store items inside a vehicle—instead of using a roof rack—since the drag of a loaded roof rack can decrease fuel economy by 5%.
Close your shades. Window shades are one of the simplest ways to save energy. During hot weather, keep your shades closed to block the sun’s rays from heating up your home. Shades should be mounted as close to the window glass as possible to create a sealed air space. More info (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Caulk your leaks. On a windy day, stand inside your house and use your hand to feel around a window or door to detect air leaks. Also try the “paper test” by shutting a door or window on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you have a leak. Caulk and weather-strip any leaky windows or doors thoroughly. More info (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Use Mother Nature’s air conditioners. Cut cooling costs by planting trees or shrubs on the sunny side of your house to create shade. A single tree can reduce air temperature up to nine degrees. Using vegetation to shade your air conditioning unit can increase efficiency up to 10%. More info (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Set your thermostat to save. A good rule of thumb is: 68 or 78. Raise your thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer. During the winter when heat is needed, reduce your thermostat to 68 degrees. Save up to 10% in heating and cooling costs for every degree of adjustment above 78 or below 68. More info (Progress Energy)
Dust your refrigerator. Keep your refrigerator running efficiently by dusting the condenser coils, located under or behind the unit. Use the narrow nozzle on your vacuum or buy a coil cleaning brush at an appliance parts store. Clean the coils twice a year or more often if you have pets. Before cleaning the refrigerator, be sure to unplug it.
Get a free checkup. Progress Energy offers a free Home Energy Check to identify ways you can save energy. Utilize their Web-based energy check questionnaire, or request a walk-through home inspection. Rebates are available for home improvements such as new insulation or windows. To sign up, call 1-800-700-8744 or click here. Lower My Bill Toolkit (Progress Energy) Home Energy Saver (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Keep your pipes warm. Insulate your hot water pipes to increase energy efficiency. Start by insulating the pipes closest to the water heater; then, if possible, insulate all accessible hot water pipes. You can find pipe insulation materials, such as foam sleeves, at a local hardware store. More info (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Turn off your screen saver. Screen savers are not energy savers. The best way to prolong the life of your monitor and save energy is to turn off your monitor screen when it’s not in use—such as when you go to lunch or to a meeting. Also, don’t believe the myth that leaving your computer on makes it last longer. Turn off your computer if you’re not going to use it for more than two hours. More info (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Hang out. Save energy and prolong the life of your clothes by hanging laundry instead of using a dryer. Hanging racks are widely available, or you can use a clothesline. A bonus of hanging clothes or sheets outside is the fresh, clean smell.
Insulate your attic. Go up in your attic, and look around. A good rule of thumb is that you need more insulation if you can see the floor joists. If you can’t see the joists (because the insulation is well above them), you probably have enough insulation. The recommended level for attics is up to R-38 or about 10-14 inches, depending on insulation type. More info (US EPA Energy Star)
Lighten up. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use up to 75% less energy and can be screwed into a regular light socket. Just one CFL bulb can save you $30 over its lifetime since they last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. CFLs are available in a variety of shapes (not just “squiggly”) for indoors or outdoors. How to dispose of fluorescent bulbs
Is your refrigerator running (too cold)? Better catch it now to save money! Set the thermostat in your refrigerator to 37 or 38 degrees. The freezer section should be set at zero to 5 degrees. If you have an older refrigerator with a number dial such as 1-5 (instead of a digital thermostat), you can use a thermometer to check the temperature. More info (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Tell your hot water to cool it. Turn the temperature on your water heater down to 120 degrees to save energy. Many manufacturers set the thermostats at 140 degrees, which wastes energy and poses a safety hazard for possible scalding. More info (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Look for “low-e” windows. When replacing windows, select double-paned ones with “low-e” (low emissivity) glass. These highly efficient windows save energy and block UV rays to protect your furniture and rugs from sun damage. More info (EPA)
Make your home an Energy Star. Next time you buy electronics or appliances (such as a TV, computer, or refrigerator), look for the Energy Star® label. This label identifies high efficiency products that use 10-50% less energy (and save you money). Energy Star product list
Don’t pollute when you commute. Stop driving alone to work every day. Save money on gas and reduce air pollution by carpooling, walking, biking, or taking a bus to work (even just once a week). Visit www.tampabayrideshare for carpool information.
Is dirt costing you money? Dirty air conditioning filters restrict airflow and waste energy. Replace your filters monthly. Pick a day, such as the last day of the month, and mark it on your calendar so you won’t forget.
Be fanatical. Use ceiling fans year-round to increase your comfort level and reduce your power bill. A fan’s breeze makes you feel cooler in the summer so you can raise the thermostat 3-4 degrees. In the winter, run fans in the opposite direction (clockwise) to push the warm air down. Progress Energy tips on fans
Flick the switch. Turn the lights off when you leave a room. Keeping lights off when they are not needed saves energy, and can help make rooms cooler—a welcome benefit in the summertime! Also turn off electronics such as TVs, radios, and DVD players when not in use.