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House Information

1. Heat Pump

Heating and cooling represent the greatest energy cost in most homes. Learn how to heat and cool your home efficiently while keeping your family comfortable in any weather.

The United States Department of Energy’s Consumer Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy can help you learn how to avoid wasting energy and money.

2. Washer

Learn how to get the most out of your washer while saving water, electricity, and money.

  • Wash full loads
  • Use cold water. Most laundry detergents are made to work in cold water.
  • Adjust the water level to the load you are washing. You don't need a full load of water if you are only washing half a load of clothes.
  • Look for the Energy Star® label when buying a new washer.

3. Dryer

Efficient Use of Your Clothes Dryer

  • Use the moisture sensor option on your dryer. It automatically shuts off the machine when the clothes are dry.
  • Group similar types of fabrics together before drying them. For example, put towels together in one load. A lower dryer temperature may be used for certain clothes. See the owner's manual from the dryer for more information.
  • Be sure to clean the lint from the dryer's filter after every load. The efficiency of the dryer goes down when lint collects over the dryer filter.
  • Operate the dryer like the washer: don't overload it. Overloading uses excess energy because the items take longer to dry.
  • Using your clothes dryer during off-peak hours will save money if you subscribe to a residential time-of-use rate. See your local electric utility for details.

4. Refrigerator

Efficient Refrigeration Saves You Money

  • Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same thing as an "anti-sweat" heater. Models with an anti-sweat heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature.
  • Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37 to 40 degrees F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5 degrees F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0 degrees F.
  • To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don't allow frost to build up more than one quarter of an inch.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you might consider buying a new unit.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Move your refrigerator out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils once a year unless you have a no-clean condenser model. Your refrigerator will use less energy with clean coils.
  • Long-Term Savings Tip: Look for the Energy Star® label when buying a new refrigerator. Select a new refrigerator that is the right size for your household. Top freezer models are more energy efficient than side-by-side models. Features like ice makers and water dispensers, while convenient, will increase energy use.

5. Stove

Range and Oven Efficiency

  • Use tight-fitting covers on pots and pans to increase efficiency and shorten cooking time. Cooking pasta with a lid on the pot will use one third as much energy as without.
  • Turn off the range just before food is ready. The residual heat will finish the cooking.
  • Use pressure cooking, stir frying or steaming to shorten cooking times. Once brought to a boil, turn down the burner under the pot to the lowest setting at which it will simmer.
  • Use microwave or toaster ovens for cooking food or warming leftovers. They can save up to 30% of the energy required to cook or reheat food in a conventional oven.
  • Don't peek! The temperature drops 25 to 30 degrees F each time the door is opened.
  • Use the oven as little as possible in the heat of summer. The waste heat makes the house more uncomfortable and increases air conditioning loads. Outdoor cooking may be a good idea.
  • If you have a self-cleaning oven, use this feature sparingly. It uses 20% more energy per cooking cycle.

6. Dishwasher

Using Your Dishwasher Efficiently

  • Use the no-heat, air-dry feature on your dishwasher. This will save over half of the energy used. With older dishwashers, open and air-dry after the final rinse.
  • Be sure the dishwasher is full, but don't overload it.
  • Scrape, don't rinse, the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • When shopping for a dishwasher, look for the Energy Star® label to find one that uses less water and 25% less energy than required by federal standards.

7. Ceiling Fan

Ceiling Fans with forward and reverse circulation are great air controllers. A ceiling fan can direct cooler air down from the ceiling into your living area during the summer months, increasing your comfort level. During the winter months, reversing the direction of your ceiling fan will cause the warmer top air in the room to move across the ceiling, down the walls and into the lower living area. This will allow you to increase your thermostat settings during the warmer months and decrease your heating temperature settings during the colder months thereby saving valuable energy dollars.

Visit Energy Star for tips on how to buy and use a ceiling fan.

8. Thermostat

Save Money With a Programmable Thermostat

What is a programmable thermostat?

A programmable thermostat automatically changes the temperature in your home at preset times during the day. For example, you can program your furnace or heat pump to reduce the temperature from 70 degrees to 65 degrees while you sleep, come back on 30 minutes before you get up so the house is warm while you are getting ready for work, return to 65 degrees while you are at work, then raise the temperature back to 70 degrees before you arrive home.

How much do they cost?

A good programmable thermostat costs between $50 and $150, depending on the features.

Can I install it myself?

Installing a programmable thermostat is not difficult. (Make sure you turn the circuit breaker off.) Most come with clear installation instructions but, if you are not comfortable installing one, a heating and air conditioning professional can do the job in a few minutes.

What should I consider when buying a programmable thermostat?
  • Make sure the thermostat is designed for heating and air conditioning
  • If you have a heat pump, look for a thermostat that is compatible with a heat pump
  • Consider the following features when buying:
    • A battery back-up so the programming won't be lost in case of a power outage
    • The ability to store and repeat multiple settings
    • Instructions on the inside cover
Doesn't it take more energy than you would save to raise or lower the temperature in the house?

No. You save fuel between the time the temperature stabilizes and the next time heating or cooling is needed. The longer time the furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump stays off, the more money you save. (Source: U. S. Department of Energy )

9. Pool

Heating a swimming pool can consume a lot of energy and add up to high energy bills. You can improve your swimming pool's efficiency by following the advice found in the United States Department of Energy’s Consumer Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy .

10. Attic/Insulation

Increase the comfort of your home and reduce your heating and cooling bills by making sure you have sufficient insulation in your attic, walls, and crawl spaces.

The United States Department of Energy’s Consumer Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy shows you how to avoid wasting money and energy by making sure your home has the right level of insulation.

11. Window

Inefficient windows cost you heating and cooling money. Learn how to save money on energy efficient windows. You can make your home more comfortable and save money by weatherstripping your windows.

For more information, visit the U. S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy .

12. Door

An exterior door can contribute significantly to air leakage in a home — as well as some heat transfer — if it's old, not properly installed, and/or not properly air sealed. This can result in energy losses.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy .

13. Lamp

Save Money With Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Environmental Impact

If every household in the United States replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an Energy Star® qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), it would remove enough pollution from the air to equal removing one million cars from the road. ( U.S. Environmental Protection Agency )

Long Term Savings

The price of CFLs has dropped significantly in the last few years. While a traditional incandescent light bulb may cost about $1.00 each, CFLs sell for between $5.00 and $10.00. Energy-efficient bulbs may cost you more initially, but they save you money in the long run by using one-third of the energy required by a conventional light bulb to produce the same amount of light.

CFLs use 66 percent less energy than a standard, incandescent light bulb and last up to ten times longer. A typical 100 watt incandescent bulb produces 1,600 lumens (measure of light output) and burns around 1,000 hours. A 27 watt CFL produces 1,750 lumens and burns an average of 10,000 hours.

CFLs are Cooler

Incandescent bulbs put out a lot of heat. Typical surface temperatures can range from 150 to more than 250 degrees. The heat introduced into your home by a regular light bulb causes your air conditioner to run longer. CFLs operate at only about 100 degrees, reducing the demand for air conditioning in the summer and providing a certain amount of safety from hot light bulbs.

The benefits of compact fluorescent bulbs are clear: lower operating costs, longer operating life and more efficient use of energy. ( Federal Trade Commission - Facts for Consumers )

14. Tree by the House

We Floridians love our trees. From the live oaks in the Panhandle to the royal palms of South Florida, our trees provide us with shade, fruit, and beauty. We also like reliable electric and telephone service, but sometimes our beloved trees may interfere with the lines that provide us with the utility services that are so necessary to modern life. Maintaining the balance between healthy, attractive trees and reliable utility service is the cooperative duty of both the property owner and the utility company.

Property Owner's Responsibilities

Proper tree selection is the first step in ensuring that conflicts between vegetation and utility lines are minimized. Do some research before you plant a tree. Find out how tall the tree will be when it matures and how widespread its branches will be. Be sure that the tree will not grow into the lines and require pruning that may compromise the health or beauty of the tree.

A good place to start your research is at the Web site of the International Society of Arboriculture which has a brochure entitled Avoiding Tree & Utility Conflicts you can download. The National Arbor Day Foundation also has information on its Web site about planting the right tree in the right place.

Utility Company's Responsibilities

One of the ways that utility companies attempt to provide safe, reliable service is by trimming vegetation that has grown, or is about to grow, into its lines. Florida Public Service Commission rules do not specify to what extent that this trimming must be done. It is the company's responsibility to establish a vegetation control program that ensures safe, reliable service.

Most utilities have adopted pruning techniques developed by the Tree Care Industry Association and approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) . These techniques focus on removing intruding branches at the point where the branch would be naturally shed.

The Time To Act Is Now

Don't wait for hurricane season to take stock of your trees. Start now, before the storms of summer come.

15. Toilet

  • Toilets can account for almost 30 percent of indoor water use.
  • Replace older toilets with low-flow toilets which use only 1.6 gallons per flush. This will save on both water and wastewater charges.
  • Fill a half-gallon plastic jug with water and place it in the tank of an older toilet. This will reduce the amount of water used per flush.
  • Don't use the toilet as a trashcan or ashtray.
  • Check for leaks by placing a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the food coloring shows up in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak.

16. Shower

  • Showers use substantially less water than baths.
  • Replace older shower heads with water-efficient heads.
  • Install an aerator on all faucets.
  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Fix a leaky faucet as soon as it starts. A leaky faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of water in a very short time.

17. Faucet

  • Turn off the water after wetting your tooth brush. After you wet your toothbrush and fill a glass with water for rinsing, turn off the tap water while brushing.
  • Rinse your razor in the sink. Before shaving, partially fill the sink with warm water. While shaving, use the water in the sink to rinse the blade rather than running water.
  • Don't let the faucet run while cleaning vegetables. You can serve the same purpose by putting a stopper in the sink and filling the sink with clean water. If you want to clean your vegetables with running water do it as a final rinse, which will require less water.
  • Check for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets, and couplings. Leaks outside the house may not be as obvious since they don't mess up the floors or drive you crazy at night, but they can be very wasteful. If a faucet leaks one cup of water every hour, over 500 gallons of water will be wasted in a year.
  • Install aerators on all faucets. If an aerator is already installed on your faucet, the rated flow which should read 2.75 gpm (gallons per minute) or lower, will be imprinted on the side. If the rated flow is over 2.75 gpm replace the aerator with a lower rated one. If there is no aerator on your faucet and you want to install one, check to see if there are threads just inside the tip of the faucet. Most modern faucets are threaded to accept aerators.

18. Bathroom Vent Fan

A bathroom vent fan improves the atmosphere in a bathroom by pulling out moisture, odors, and heat.

For more information, visit the Energy Star website.

19. Water Heater

Water heating is one of the largest energy users in your home. Learn ways to reduce your water heating expenses.

For more information, visit Energy Star .

20. Solar Panel

Florida is the Sunshine State. See how solar energy fits into Florida's Energy Plan.

For more information, visit the Florida Solar Energy Center .

21. Roof

According to the EPA, about $40 billion is spent annually in the US to air-condition buildings – one-sixth of all electricity generated in a year! ENERGY STAR qualified roof products reduce the amount of air conditioning needed in buildings, and can reduce energy bills by up to 50%.

A reflective roof can reduce peak cooling demand by 10-15 percent. As a result, the home or building owner may be able to purchase a smaller, more efficient, and less-expensive cooling system.

Reduced energy demand means less burning of fossil fuels, which results in less pollution from power plants. Also, ENERGY STAR qualified roof products help to reduce the “heat island effect” in which dark, heat-absorbing buildings and paved areas make the air in urban areas hotter, and more smoggy.

Energy Star® qualified roof products maintain a more constant temperature and reduce thermal shock, which occurs when cool rain hits a hot roof, causing a sharp drop in temperature. During temperature changes, a roof expands and contracts, causing stress and degrading the roof.

22. House Energy Calculator

Find calculators to help you evaluate your home's energy use and need for energy-efficient improvements at the U. S. Department of Energy's Energy Calculators and Software page.