Resources

Efficiency Smart has put together a list of tools and tips you can use to save energy and learn about energy efficiency in your home. Are you using a lot of electricity in your home or do you have additional questions? Our Customer Support team would be happy to help. Call 877-889-3777 or email info@efficiencysmart.org for assistance.

Tools

A screenshot of the ENERGY STAR Choose a Light Guide  document

ENERGY STAR Choose a Light Guide

Looking to replace a lightbulb in your Home? Here's an interactive guide to help you select the right bulb for your home.

A screenshot of the Electric Usage Chart  document

Electric Usage Chart

Curious what your electric devices and appliances are costing you? View our electric usage chart for annual estimates of common products.

A screenshot of the Energy Saver 101 Infographic: Home Heating  document

Energy Saver 101 Infographic: Home Heating

Everything you need to know about home heating in one infographic

A screenshot of the Energy Saver 101: Home Cooling Infographic  document

Energy Saver 101: Home Cooling Infographic

Everything you need to know about home cooling in one infographic.

A screenshot of the Energy Saver 101: Water Heating Infographic  document

Energy Saver 101: Water Heating Infographic

Everything you need to know about water heating in one infographic.

A screenshot of the Breaker Test  document

Breaker Test

Instructions on how to go circuit by circuit on your breaker panel to discover which circuits are using the most energy, which can lead to finding the largest energy users in your home.

A screenshot of the LED Bulbs Made Easy  document

LED Bulbs Made Easy

Your best option for a high-quality, long-lasting and energy-saving bulb are ENERGY STAR® certified LED bulbs. From brightness to bulb type, here is more information on purchasing the right bulb for your need.

General

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR logo

    When purchasing new appliances and products for your home, look for the ENERGY STAR logo. This logo means that the item has been independently certified and has undergone extensive testing to ensure that it will save energy and perform as expected.

  • Use an advanced power strip to prevent phantom power

    Electronic devices can still pull electricity when turned off but plugged in. The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices that are “off.”  Unplug electronics devices such as computers, cell phone chargers, and small appliances when not in use or utilize an advanced power strip to completely disconnect the power supply from the source to avoid wasting energy.

  • Do you have a garage/workshop equipment, compressed air for tire filling, medical equipment such as oxygen tank, an Level 1 EV Charger, etc.?

    These can all add to your electric bill, and individual metering may help you better understand what each piece of equipment uses. Efficiency Smart offers a free meter loan program if you want to learn more about your equipment’s electricity usage.

HVAC General

  • Replace your air filter every three months

    A dirty air filter will prevent adequate airflow through the unit. This can make your system work harder, causing more electric use.  Change the filter when it is dirty, typically every three months or as frequently as recommended by the filter manufacturer. This will ensure that your system is working as intended and not costing you extra in energy costs.

  • Use a smart thermostat (Nest) or a programable thermostat

    If you haven’t already, consider purchasing a smart thermostat, or a programable thermostat and program it to automatically change the temperature at night, and around your occupancy habits. Efficiency Smart offers a rebate on certain models, which can be found on our website.

    If you have a smart of programmable thermostat, we recommend setting the temperature up four (or more) degrees in summer, and down four in the winter when no one is in the home (with the exception of Geothermal systems; keep these at a consistent set point “Set & Forget”).  Less energy is used to bring a home to the temperature that you are comfortable with, than to maintain that temperature throughout the day while you aren’t home.

  • Confirm that your thermostat was installed by a professional

    It might be wise to call for an HVAC technician to verify that your thermostat was installed correctly. An incorrectly installed thermostat could lead to additional use of emergency or auxiliary heating, which will have a large effect on your bills.

  • Use a ceiling fan in both summer and winter to save on HVAC costs

    Lower your AC by four degrees in the summer while using a ceiling fan with no change in comfort. In the winter, set the fan to turn clockwise, and let it run on a low speed. This will force warmer air back down to occupied spaces. Remember to turn the fans off after you have left a room. Fans circulate conditioned air, but they don’t cool it. Leaving fans on in an empty home just wastes energy.

  • Closing unused vents won’t save on energy costs

    Closing vents in unoccupied rooms will change the balance of your air conditioning and cause it to use more energy to regulate this balance. Central air units distribute air evenly, and changing this balance may cause pressure to build up and result in duct leaks and wasted energy

Air Conditioning

  • Have your AC system serviced regularly

    If it has been a few years since a technician last looked at the system, we recommend calling a professional HVAC company to inspect your system. They will be able to tell if the system has an adequate refrigerant charge and is working properly. Poorly maintained systems will typically run less efficiently over time, which is why regular preventative maintenance is encouraged.

  • Check the age of your air conditioner

    Air conditioning is the largest driver of electricity use in the hot summer months. The older the unit, the more likely it is using more energy to provide cooling, and things like filter replacement and preventative maintenance become more important (although both should be done regardless of unit age).

    New technology has allowed for much better control and efficiency, and if comfort is not being met than consider upgrading your AC unit if your unit is older than ten years old. There have been significant improvements over the past decade in efficiency levels of HVAC units. COP, SEER/EER/IEER, HSPF, AFUE are all efficiency ratings (the higher the better). A contractor will be able to assist them and verify that the selected unit meets those standards.  They can call Efficiency Smart if they have efficiency questions about a specific HVAC model or unit when they are ready to purchase.

  • Improve the performance of window AC units

    If you have window AC units, make sure it has been properly installed and maintained. Clean the air filter, prevent conditioned air from leaking out by sealing any gaps around the unit, and verify the unit’s air intake is not obstructed. If you need to purchase a new unit, consider an Energy Star unit.

  • Window shades and drapes

    Close window shades and drapes in the summer to keep the heat out.

  • Lowering the thermostat won’t cool a home faster

    Most HVAC systems run at a fixed speed and supply a fixed rate of cooling. This means that if you set your thermostat to 60 degrees or 70 degrees in the summer, the rate in which the HVAC unit cools the home remains the same, but much more energy will be used to make the home cooler at the 60 degree set point. Simply set the unit to the desired temperature or install an advanced thermostat and program it to begin cooling before you arrive home.

Heating

  • Check your home’s heating source (Gas-natural gas or propane, or Electric-heat pump or electric baseboards)

    Heating is the largest energy user during winter months, and your fuel source (gas or electric) can make a big difference in your energy costs. Gas units are overall cheaper and more efficient to operate, but have a higher upfront cost to install, and require a home to be connected to gas lines. Electric units are cheaper to install (and heat pump technology is improving), but more expensive to run in the long-term.

    If you have a gas unit, please note that Efficiency Smart only offers incentives and services that focus on electric savings.  We recommend you also contact your gas provider for information on any potential programs, incentives that may be available to you. 

  • Electric Resistance Heating/ Space Heaters

    Electric Resistance Heating is one of the most expensive ways to heat a home, as space heaters can add an additional $20 a month to your electric bill.

    We would recommend you contact an HVAC company to come by and review your heating system and recommend cost-effective alternatives. In the meantime, turn the temperature down as low as you comfortably can to save on your electric usage. Also, consider sealing around windows and doors to prevent heated air from leaking out of your home.

  • Take advantage of the sun

    Keep drapes open during winter daylight hours and then closed at night during cold weather.

Fridges/Freezers

  • Do you have multiple freezers/refrigerators?

    Old freezers or coolers can consume a lot of energy, especially if they have been poorly maintained or are in an unconditioned area. If replacement is not an option, make sure coils are kept clean and the unit defrosted. If you are barely using it, you can save up to $150 annually by no longer running an old fridge or freezer.

    Efficiency Smart offers a free appliance recycling program which allows you to schedule a free pickup and receive cash back for recycling an older refrigerator or freezer. Visit www.efficiencysmart.org and select your community to see if your community is eligible.

  • Follow these best practices for your fridge

    • Place your fridge in a cool place
      Position your refrigerator away from a heat source such as an oven, a dishwasher, or direct sunlight from a window.
    • Allow air circulation behind the fridge
      Leave a few inches between the wall and the refrigerator, and keep the condenser coils clean if you have an older model. Read the user’s manual to learn how to safely clean coils. Coil cleaning brushes can be purchased at most hardware stores.
    • Check the door seals
      Make sure the refrigerator seals around the door are airtight. If not, replace them.
    • Keep the door closed
      Minimize the amount of time the refrigerator door is open.

Water Heating

  • General water heating tips

    Consider low flow shower heads and faucet aerators, as these items lower the amount of water that is used. This can lower the amount of water your tank has to keep warm. 

    You should also lower the temperature set point on your water heater to 120 degrees. Manufacturers often set it higher than necessary, but at 120 degrees your water is still at a safe temperature to prevent bacteria from growing, while also reducing your electric costs.

  • Do you have a heat pump water heater?

    If your heat pump water heater is aging or not providing an adequate amount of hot water, consider calling a professional to check its performance. Backup electric resistance heating might be the only heat source being used, which can be costly.

  • Are you planning on replacing your hot water tank in the future?

    Consider purchasing a high efficiency or tankless system if your existing unit if it is near the end of its life.

Lighting

  • Replace your lights in the right order

    Replace any lightbulb you use for more than three hours a day with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, which can save you $15 annually each. Replace the rest of your lightbulbs as they burn out.

Home Insulation and Sealing

  • Do You Know what the insulation level is like in your attic?

    In the average home, the insultation should completely cover the floor joists (or at least 6 inches, R38 or higher). Contact an insulation contractor for more information.

  • How old are your windows?

    Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows lowers household energy bills and provides comfort benefits, especially if you have single pane windows, as this can allow conditioned air to leak out from your home.

  • Are the areas by your windows and doors sealed?

    You can prevent drafts by using weather stripping and by sealing any leaks. Here is a helpful link from the Department of Energy for more information. https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_seal_insulate

Laundry

  • Wash your laundry with cold water whenever possible

    Hot water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes. Newer detergents have been specifically designed for cold water use, and its performance is equal to or better than using hot water.

  • Use sensor drying mode instead of time drying

    If your clothes dryer has this feature. This will save energy by turning the unit off once the clothes are dry, and prevent over drying, which can damage clothes. Remember to clean the lint trap after each use as well.