Attic, Garage and Unconditioned Spaces
There are many unconditioned spaces in your home – attic, garage, utility room, etc. – which often get overlooked for energy-efficient and conservation measures. Let’s see what we can dig up!
Office and Electronics
In this digital age, electronics are found in every room of the house and many of them have energy-efficient settings. Check out our list below for more information.
Even while you sleep, your home can still use energy. Below we have outlined some tips on saving electricity and staying comfortable without breaking the bank.
This may not be a hot spot for energy efficiency, but there are ways to conserve energy without sacrificing comfort. Check those out below.
From lighting to windows to your thermostat, the living room is a great place to make the most out of home energy savings. Read on to see how to reduce electricity bills in your main living space.
There are many more ways you can save energy that don’t necessarily fit into one particular room. We have you covered with more tips below.
Even with energy-efficient appliances, you can still learn how to save money on electric bills with the helpful tips you’ll find below.
HVAC – Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
The majority of your energy usage comes from your HVAC system. Below we have outlined numerous tips to help you stay comfortable and maintain your system while lowering your utility bills.
A PLAN TO CONSERVE ENERGY AND LOWER UTILITY BILLS CAN START ANYWHERE, ANYTIME
As your trusted energy partner, OPPD wants to help you to take control of your energy use. This interactive floor plan lets you to choose where you would like to start your journey toward a more energy-efficient way of living – and a lower electricity bill.
Attic, Garage and Unconditioned Spaces
Wondering how to save money on electricity bills? It starts with insulation throughout your home – especially in the attic. Insulation is measured by R-value: The higher the value, the better the insulation is at preventing the flow of heat from space to space. Follow these tips for conserving energy and watch this video to learn more.
- Blown-in, loose-fill insulation is best for attics. The insulation should pile up high enough to cover the tops of the ceiling joists (on the “floor” of the attic) plus a few inches.
- Polyethylene- or neoprene-foam pipe sleeves are commonly used to insulate the cold and hot water pipes coming off the water heater. This can reduce the loss of convective heat through the hot and cold pipes near the tank.
- Be sure to insulate rim joists using batt or rigid foam board insulation.
- Insulate the attic hatch by using batt insulation and by adding weatherstripping where the hatch meets the frame.
- Install weatherstripping on windows and exterior doors, including the door to an attached garage.
- Consider installing plastic window covering on drafty windows.
- Apply caulk to band joists and rim joists (the area that goes around the top perimeter of your basement) and other structural component gaps.
- Install outlet and switch plate foam gasket seals for outlet and switch panels on exterior walls to help slow the flow of heat from those openings in the walls.
Don't let utility bill costs go down the drain! Keep these energy savings tips in mind when in the bathroom.
- Setting your Water Heater’s temperature from 140 to 120 degrees can lower your water heating cost by 5-10%.
- When switching multiple bulbs to LEDs in the bathroom, look for bulbs with a lower Kelvin [K] temperature. The lower the Kelvin – 3,000 K is about the color of an incandescent bulb – the yellower the light. Take into consideration the lumens (brightness) of the bulbs. The higher the lumens the brighter the light.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. This can save as much as 5 gallons of water each time you brush your teeth (or as much as 150 gallons a month).
- Low-flow showerheads and faucets are energy-efficient ways to save on water usage and water-heating without a loss of comfort.
- Newer, more efficient showerheads can reduce the water use from approximately 5 gallons per minute to 2.5 gallons per minute.
- Bathroom exhaust fans are designed to remove unwanted moisture out of the room and out of the home. Use them when showering or doing any activity that adds moisture to the bathroom.
- Exhaust fans should vent out of the home. If they vent into an unconditioned space (e.g. attic), this can cause significant moisture problems in the future and should always vent outside of the home.
Your home consumes energy around the clock. Learn how to save on your electric bill even while you’re sleeping.
- Fans cool people, not rooms. Consider raising the temperature of the thermostat in the summer and using a fan to help cool you off as you sleep.
- In the colder months, a ceiling fan spinning clockwise and on low can help distribute warm air more evenly in a room that may otherwise have cold spots.
- Blackout curtains can not only help you sleep better, they can also help block the heat from the sun in the summer, keeping your bedroom cooler.
- Close any doors that attach to the bedroom such as a closet or bathroom. This reduces the size of the space needed for heating or cooling.
- In summer, stay cooler with breathable linens; then, in the winter, switch to a heavier style of linens and comforter. Any opportunity to cool off or warm up before touching the thermostat is a movement towards saving energy.
- Electronic devices such as computers, monitors and even televisions can add heat to your bedroom causing a potentially uncomfortable temperature. Consider removing any electronic devices from your bedroom to help maintain the temperature.
Office and Electronics
The use of technology might be increasing, but with new technologies and efficiencies you can continue to reduce your energy usage.
- Instead of turning off your PC or monitor(s), use the Power Management features that come with each item. This can help reduce any unnecessary energy usage when you’re not using your PC or monitor(s).
- Use a surge strip to protect your electronic devices (PC, monitor, speakers, printer, etc.). Or, for full protection in your home, consider signing up for our Residential Surge Guard Protection.
- Smart strips are a convenient way to conserve energy from electronics that are used sparingly. These strips can automatically turn off power to those electronics when they’re not in use, reducing phantom load.
- Smart strips, outlets and smart plugs can help alleviate the effects of Phantom Load. While it may not amount to a lot in the short term (monthly), it could add up over time (e.g. multiple customers and yearly). For more information on Phantom Load, check out our video here Phantom Load.
- Instead of leaving a gaming system, TV or electronic device on idle, switch it to the power-saving mode, which consumes considerably less energy.
- Smart devices like plugs, bulbs and outlets, are great for saving energy via the ability to schedule turning lights on/off from anywhere on your phone.
- An office full of electronics will be warmer than the average room. Take this into consideration before changing the thermostat. These electronics can raise the temperature of the room by as much as 5-7 degrees.
Live comfortably while you save money! Find out how to lower electricity bills in this busy area of the home.
- LED bulbs use 80-90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and 20-30% less than CFLs.
- LED bulbs come in a variety of sizes, brightness (lumens), colors (measured in Kelvin – the higher the whiter, the lower the yellower) and applications (flood, dimmable, etc.).
- All CFL bulbs should be properly recycled. You can use this How to Recycle CFLs link to learn how to properly recycle and dispose of an old CFL bulb.
- Turn off lights in rooms that aren’t occupied. Consider using natural sunlight as much as possible.
- Windows are an expensive upgrade with a long payback period. Consider any other improvements that can be made to the window (weather stripping, plastic sheeting) before replacing them in full.
- If you do upgrade and replace your windows, consider gas-filled windows, double- or triple-paned, with a low-e coating.
- If you decide to replace your windows, look for those with a Solar Heat-Gain Coefficient [SHGC] of 0.40 or lower.
- Installing a programmable or smart thermostat can help in saving energy by programming temperature changes and schedules and more.
So many appliances, so much electricity! Here are ways to save energy and money in your kitchen.
- Use heat-generating appliances (dishwasher, clothes dryer, oven, etc.) during the cooler part of the day/evening.
- Look for the Energy Star label when purchasing TVs, refrigerators, washers, dryers and small appliances. This shows the estimated annual cost and other helpful information about the efficiency of the item.
- Consider two price tags when shopping for appliances: one being the price of the appliance and the other being its lifetime operation cost. Use the EnergyGuide label on the appliance to determine if both costs are beneficial for you.
- Keeping appliances clean for added longevity, efficiency and safety. This includes ovens, stovetops, refrigerator coils and even toasters.
- The use of low-flow faucets can help save you up to 60% on water consumption and waste.
- Keep your refrigerator between 30-40 degrees and your freezer between 0-5 degrees. Having a thermometer inside shows the precise setting of your refrigerator.
- Keep the seal (gaskets) on the doors of your refrigerator and freezer clean. A dirty gasket can cause a leak leading to your refrigerator or freezer running too often or not cooling/freezing as it should.
- Air drying your dishes after a dishwasher cycle saves a considerable amount of energy (as much as 15% each time) versus using the drying cycle on the dishwasher.
- Washing dishes by hand uses more water and more energy to heat that water. Most newer dishwashers have heaters inside that aid in warming up the water.
- Avoid rinsing dishes off before putting them in the dishwasher. Scrape off any bigger pieces of food, then simply put it in the dishwasher.
- If you have to wash dishes by hand, it is recommended to use gloves as the water will need to be hot enough to adequately sanitize (roughly 140-145 degrees).
HVAC – Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning
This is the area where tips on saving electricity really matter because most of your home energy consumption happens through your HVAC system. Watch these videos to learn more about airflow, insulation, and sealing ductwork. Here are some tips from ENERGY STAR® on duct sealing.
- If you're in the market for a new HVAC system, insist the contractor performs HVAC Manual Residential Load Calculations to ensure the components you get are the proper size for your home.
- Seal your ductwork using aluminum duct tape or duct mastic paste on all joints. This will help prevent air leakage and assist in better airflow from your HVAC system.
- Have a licensed professional inspect your HVAC system twice a year – before summer and before winter.
- Check or replace your furnace filter at least once a month. While the airflow may seem adequate, a dirty filter can cause components of the furnace or A-coil (inside the furnace) to become dirty or malfunction.
- Changing your thermostat by as little as one degree can amount to an increase/decrease in energy usage by 1-5%, depending on your system.
- Use dampers on the ductwork to balance the airflow in your home (i.e. if one room is colder/warmer than another). Closing registers should be a last resort if dampers are not available.
- Consider the position of the thermostat. If it is near sources of heat (i.e., bathroom, kitchen, window, etc.), try to limit the movement of air against the thermostat so as not to affect the natural air temperature of your home.
- The most expensive filter is not necessarily the best filter for your system. Filters can be too efficient in that they will slow the flow of air which can damage your HVAC system. A MERV (Minimum Efficiency Rating Value) Rating of 11 or 13 is generally a good fit for most homes.
- Keep your supply and return registers clean of dust, dirt, pet hair, etc. It is best to check them each time you replace your filter.
There are many ways to conserve energy throughout your home, including these final tips. Watch these videos to learn more about other causes of high-energy usage, how to use a space heater safely, get spring and summer tips, and fall and winter tips.
- Use the Energy Usage Calculator or check out a Watt Detector from your public library to better understand the energy use in your home.
- In the summer, closed blinds and curtains can reduce a room’s temperature by as much as 7 degrees. In the winter, open those blinds and curtains to create a passive solar-heating effect in your home.
- Use cold water to wash clothes whenever possible.
- Install a door sweep on any exterior doors to help prevent any airflow from entering or leaving the home.
- Tall trees providing coverage for the roof and direct, sun-exposed windows, bushes, hostas or similar plants near the foundation of a home are all excellent ways of using landscaping as an energy-efficient measure.
- Trees can also slow the flow of wind which diminishes the wind chill effect on the home in the winter.
- A plant-covered trellis can help cool your home by creating a shaded barrier between the sun and your home or outside space.
- Be sure your dryer vent is hooked up properly to the outside. It should never vent into a home. This can cause a considerable increase in humidity and problems with air quality in the home.
- Check for any plumbing leaks. Excess water can add moisture to the home. In the right conditions, this can lead to mold.