Enery-efficient improvements not only make your home more comfortable, they can yield long-term financial rewards.

Reduced utility bills more than make up for the higher price of energy-efficient appliances and improvements over their lifetimes. In addition, your home could bring in a higher price when you sell.

Four things you can do immediately:

  1. Bag It
    Get reusable cloth bags for your grocery store purchases and anything that would normally be bagged.

    Fact: More than 100 Billion Plastic Bags are thrown away every year

  2. Stop Junk Mail
    Every year 100 million trees are chopped down for junk mail just in America! Think about the statistics for the entire planet!

  3. Shut Down
    The Average Computer left on all day uses nearly 1,000 kilowat hours of electricity a year producing more than 1 ton of carbon emissions. So, turn off your computer any time you are not on it and eliminate the screen saver function which uses more energy than the sleep mode.

  4. A Mug of Your Own
    Every year in America alone, consumers throw away 25 billion polystyrene cups and 25 billion individual water bottles, most of which end up in land fills. Again, think of the world wide consumption rates! Instead, buy a reusable To-Go mug and a bottle that you can refill with water.

Tips To Save Energy Today

Easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy.

  • Install a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer.

  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs with the Energy Star label.

  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.

  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.

  • Plus home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips off when the equipment is not in use (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still ise several watts of power).

  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 F.

  • Take short showers instead of baths.

  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

  • Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gasoline.

  • Look for the Energy Star label on home appliances and products. Energy Star products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protecting Agency.

Water Heating Tips

Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home.

  • Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.

  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.

  • Lower thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 120 F provides comfortable hot water for most uses.

  • Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

  • Insulate your natural gas or oil hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the water heater's top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment. Follow the manufacture's recommendations; when in doubt, get professional help.

  • Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.

  • If you are in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving Energy Star model to reduce hot water use.

  • Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Some new water heaters have built-in heat traps.

  • Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer's advise.

Average Hot Water Use

ActivityGallons per Use
clothes washing32
automatic dishwashing12
preparing food5
hand dishwashing4

Locating Air Leaks

First, make a list of obvious air leaks. The potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward.

Check for indoor air leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring and at junctures or the walls and ceiling.

Check to see if air can flow through these places:

  • Electrical Outlets

  • Switch Plates

  • Window Frames

  • Baseboards

  • Weather Stripping Around Doors

  • Fireplace Dampers

  • Attic Hatches

  • Wall - or Window-Mounted Air Conditioners


Heat loss through the ceiling and walls in your home could be very large if the installation levels are less than the recommended minimum. When your house was built, the builder likely installed the amount of insulation recommended at that time. Given today's energy prices (and future prices that will probably be higher), the level of insulation might be inadequate, especially if you have an older home.

Consumer Appliances - annual kilowatt hour usage

Highest energy consuming equipment in the U.S. in order of usage: electric ovens, microwaves, central air conditioning. Electric oven kilowatt hour consumption is twice that of air conditioning. Fastest growing consumer product: computers.

  • A 12 cubic feet refrigerator uses about 800 kilowatt hours per year.

  • A 500 watt portable heater uses about 150 kilowatt hours per year.

  • A 3 ton central air conditioning system uses about 2500 kilowatt hours per year (assuming 5 months summer usage)

  • A clothes dryer (4 hours per week) uses about 1000 kilowatt hours per year.

  • A 10 gallon fish tank with light and heater uses 400 kilowatt hours per year.

  • Lighting for 5 rooms uses about 1000 kilowatt hours.

  • A 100 watt light bulb (for 5 hours a day) uses 180 kilowatt hours a year. Fluorescent lights use about 1/4 of the energy of a regular light bulb.

  • A color TV (3 hours a day) uses 600 kilowatt hours a year.

  • A TV (3 hours a day) uses 200 kilowatt hours.

  • A video recorder (3 hours a day) uses 75 kilowatt hours.

  • A personal computer (10 hours a week) uses 150 kilowatt hours. A small laser printer uses 90 - 100 watts while printing and 5 watts when electricity connected, but not printing.

How To Read Residential and National Gas Meters

Digital Meters
The basic unit of measure of electric power is the watt. One thousand watts are called kilowatt. If you use one thousand watts of power in one hour you ahve used a kilowatt-hour (kWh). Your electric utility bills you by the kWh.

The standard electric power meter is a clock-like device driven by the electricity moving through it. As the home draws current from the power lines, a set of small gears inside the meter move. The number of revolutions is recorded by the dials that you can see on the face of the meter. The speed of the revolutions depends on the amount of current drawn: the more power consumed at any one instant, the faster the gears will rotate.

When reading an electric meter, read and write down the numbers as shown on the dials from right to left. When the pointer is directly on a number, look at the dial to the right. If it has passed zero, use the next higher number. If it has not passed zero, use the lower number. Record the numbers shown by writing down the value of the dial to your extreme right first and the rest as you come to them. Should the hand of a dial fall between two numbers, use the smaller of the two numbers.

Natural Gas Meters
Natural gas is commonly measured by the cubic foot, and you are billed by the thousands of cubic feet (MCF) or hundreds of cubic feet (CCF). You may also be billed by the Therm, which is about the same as a CCF or 100 cubic feet. To measure the amount of electricity or gas that you use, the utility installs a meter between the incoming electric power or gas lines and the point of distribution at the house.

A gas meter is driven by the force of the moving gas in the pipe, and also turns faster as the flow increases. Each time the dial with the lower value makes one complete revolution, the pointer on the next higher value dial moves ahead one digit.

When reading a gas meter, read and write down the numbers as shown on the dials from left to right (opposite of an electric meter). It is important to note that on both types of meters, the hands of adjacent dials turn in opposite directions to each other.

Digital Meters
Note that some newer electric and gas meters use digital displays instead of dials. The difference between one month's reading and the next is the amount of energy units that have been used for that billing period.


Energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of your electric bill. Examine the wattage size of the light bulbs in your house. You may have 100-watt (or larger) bulbs where 60 or 75 watts would do. You should also consider compact fluorescent lamps for areas where lights are on for hours at a time. Your electric utility may offer rebates or other incentives for purchasing energy-efficient lamps.


Solar maps provide monthly average daily total solar resource information on grid cells. The insolation values represent the resource available to a flat plate collector, such as a photovoltaic panel, oriented due south at an angle from horizontal to equal to the latitude of the collector location. This is typical practice for PV system installation, although other orientations are also used.