Tips for saving energy
The information in this article is taken from the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network of the U.S. Department of Energy.
In the United States, Daylight Saving Time begins for those participating at 2:00 A.M. on the second Sunday of March. At 2:00 A.M. on the first Sunday of November, most of the U.S. reverts to Standard Time.
Why Daylight Saving Time?
One of the biggest reasons we change our clocks to Daylight Saving Time is because it saves energy. Energy use and demand for electricity for lighting our homes is directly connected to when we go to bed and when we get up. When we go to bed, we generally turn off the lights, VCR, radio, stereo, and TV.
In the average home, 25 percent of all the electricity is used for lighting and small appliances. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, we can cut the amount of electricity we consume each day. The U.S. Department of Transportation says that our country’s electricity usage is trimmed by about one percent (10,000 barrels of oil) each day with Daylight Saving Time.
In the winter, the afternoon Daylight Saving Time advantage is offset by the morning’s need for more lighting. So, in the pre-winter (late fall), winter, and post-winter (early spring) months, we can return to Standard Time, giving additional morning light when most needed.
As we approach the time of the year when the energy advantage provided by Daylight Saving Time begins to lose its effectiveness, we need to look at other energy-saving steps.
There are a number of conservation measures that energy-cautious homeowners can take to reduce energy costs. The following are the 30 tips recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy.
1. Check all outside doors for air leaks. Use sealer tape to seal leaks, and caulk around windows. Check for holes and cracks around light fixtures, outlets, and walls. Fill with caulk, sealer tape, or spackling compound.
2. Change heat and air conditioning system filters regularly.
3. Maintain heat and air conditioning systems regularly.
4. Check levels of insulation in walls, ceilings, attics, crawlspace, heat and air conditioning ducts, and basement. Attic insulation should be at least six inches deep.
5. Add storm windows, storm doors, and double-pane windows.
6. Keep thermostats set at 68 degrees or lower in winter and 74 degrees or higher in summer. This could save 40 percent in summer and 15 percent in winter.
7. Reduce heating and cooling systems when your home is vacant for more than eight hours.
8. Use a timer-operated thermostat.
9. Have your local power company perform a free energy survey. Ask them about low-cost community programs to insulate your house.
10. Stop the dishwasher after the wash cycle, or use the economy cycle. The warmth from the wash cycle should dry most of the dishes.
11. Change vacuum cleaner bags regularly. It saves electricity and improves efficiency.
12. Use your main oven for large food items only. Bake as many dishes at once as possible. Use crockpots, toaster ovens, and pressure cookers instead of the oven.
13. Use self-cleaning oven feature only when energy usage is at a minimum, such as in the fall or spring when neither all day air conditioning nor heating is needed.
14. Clean dust from refrigerator and freezer coils.
15. Buy energy saving appliances.
16. Reduce heat and use blankets at night. Do not use electric blankets.
17. Close fireplace damper when not in use.
18. Reduce heat and wear a sweater in the house.
19. Keep lint filter clean in your dryer.
20. Dry clothes outside during summer. Wash and dry no more than twice weekly during winter months.
21. If you are not using it, turn it off.
22. Use automatic timers to control lights when not at home. Use timers to control outside Christmas lights. Do not leave lights on all night.
23. Set hot water heater to 120 degrees. This is hot enough to wash clothes and dishes but not hot enough to cause burns.
24. Wrap hot water heater with insulation. Periodically drain heater from the bottom to remove sediment and allow for more efficient operation.
25. Buy a water-restricted shower head.
26. Use dishwashers, washers, and dryers only when full.
27. Use cold water for laundry when possible. Very few times is hot water absolutely necessary.
28. Fix leaky hot water faucets. One hot water faucet leak can waste 1,300 gallons of hot water per year.
29. Take a quick shower instead of a bath. This can save up to 50 percent of the total hot water in the home.
30. Turn off the hot water heater if you will be gone from your home for more than three days.
A typical U.S. family spends over $3,000 per year on home utility bills. Unfortunately, a large portion of this energy is wasted. In fact, the amount of energy wasted just through poorly insulated windows and doors is about as much energy as we get from the Alaskan pipeline each year. Energy efficient improvements not only make homes more comfortable, they also yield long-term financial rewards in the form of less operating and energy consumption costs.
Originally posted 4/5/13.