DIY Tips

Quick and Easy Ways You Can Save Energy at Home

Our Energy Coaches have seen some common problem while visiting homes in search of energy efficiency troubles. While you’ll see the biggest energy savings by working with a trained contractor to properly test and install major upgrades – like replacing your furnace, water heater or installing insulation -- there are also some quick and easy things that anyone can do themselves to reduce energy use. 

Power Down Electronics and Appliances
Many of your appliances still draw power even when in “sleep” mode or the power switch is turned off. These little menaces drive up your utility bills and waste resources. Luckily, they’re easy to take care of. Plugging these devices into an advanced power strip and turning the strip off when appliances aren’t in use or just unplugging them completely will eliminate this energy drain.

Choose Your Appliances Wisely
Another way to reduce the drain of appliances is to buy products that are more energy-efficient and use less standby power like those with the ENERGYSTAR label.  Also, if you have a second refrigerator or freezer, get rid of it. It might be costing you hundreds of dollars per year to keep just a few items cool. Some utilities will pay you to pick up your old fridge/freezer.

Bright Ideas for Lighting
Getting more for less is always a good thing.  By replacing incandescent bulbs with more efficient options like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) you get the same amount of light for less money.  Talk about a win-win.   Today’s LED bulbs can be more than six times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and cut energy use by more than 80 percent.  LEDs may be a bit more expensive but they last 25 times longer so you won’t have to replace them as often.  Plus, many retailers carry LEDs that are discounted by your local utility company.

Cool It on the Water
Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home but there’s a lot you can do to improve efficiency here. Most water heaters come from the manufacturer set to 140 degrees, but you can reset the thermostat to 120 degrees and still get comfortable hot water.  Insulating the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater will also help keep water warm and reduce standby heat loss.  Draining a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months removes sediment that impedes heat transfer. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's directions.  Installing low flow showerheads and faucet aerators will help you save water and energy.

Seal It Up
Any crack or gaps in your home -- small or large -- can waste a lot of energy and money over time due to air leaks. These leaks are usually found in or around windows, doors and walls. They let warm air in or cool air out, disrupting the regulation of temperature in your home. The simple solution is to seal up these leaks with weather-stripping or caulk.  This will keep your indoor temperature constant and keep out pollen and dust. Caulking tools and weather stripping can be bought at your local hardware store, where they can usually give you some tips on installation. For whole house air sealing, you’ll need to hire a trained contractor.

Tune Up Your Temperature
Heating and cooling accounts for nearly half of the energy used by homes, but not everyone needs or can afford a new, more efficient system.  However, there are inexpensive things you can do to cut costs like changing air filters regularly and installing a programmable thermostat. At a minimum, filters need to be changed every 3 months. A system with a dirty filter has to work harder.  Programmable thermostats are an easy way to regulate your home’s temperature when you’re at home, asleep or away.  Just program the thermostat to turn off or set back the temperature when you’re gone or don’t need as much conditioned air.

Get Informed and Get involved

  • Sign onto your online utility account to view your energy use over the last year. Most people have a smart meter that lets you can see how much electricity you use on an hourly or daily basis. PG&E/SCG/SCE 
  • Use a wattmeter to see how much power individual appliances use 
  • Attend an upcoming emPower event to learn more