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Watts Up? Energy Saving Tips

Tip #1

Insulate your home properly for all seasons.

Why: Up to 20% of your home's heating can be lost through the ceiling. By adding insulation, sealing air-leaks and choosing ENERGY STAR labeled windows for your home, you can improve comfort and reduce heating and cooling costs year-round.

Tip #2

Turn your thermostat down during winter months and up during summer months.

Why: For every two degrees you lower your thermostat during winter, you can save approximately 5% on heating costs for your home. A setting of 68° F during the day and 55° F or lower at night is recommended. To avoid heating an empty house or waking up to a cold house, use a programmable thermostat to pre-programed heating levels. The same is true for every two degrees you raise the thermostat during summer; recommended 78° F or higher. When properly used, a programmable thermostat can save you about $150 per year in energy costs!

Tip #3

Turn down the thermostat on your water heater.

Why: Setting the thermostat on your water heater to midrange (120° F) will provide plenty of hot water and save you money. In addition to savings on your utility bills, maintaining this mid-range temperature will reduce the risk of scalding. Purchasing a hot water insulation jacket for your water heater may further save on heating costs. Many newer models are already properly insulated, so be sure to check with the manufacturer before installing an insulation blanket. If you do install a blanket, don't cover the inspection plate – it could be a fire hazard.

Tip #4

Seal your cooling and heating ducts.

Why: Ducts that move air to and from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner or heat pump are often big energy wasters. By sealing and insulating your ducts, you can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20%. Also, be sure to check that your whole system (i.e., furnace, heat pump, air conditioner, and heating and cooling) is energy efficient for further savings.

Tip #5

Use portable space heaters to heat one room or small area, not your entire home.

Why: Portable space heaters can consume a lot of energy and are not designed to heat more than a small, contained area. By using portable space heaters properly, you can save extensively on energy costs.

Tip #6

Implement energy saving techniques for pools and spas.

Why: By checking with your pool or spa maintenance company about reducing filtration time, you can save significantly on your energy bills. Investing in a pool or spa cover is another great tip for improving energy-efficiency, particularly in cooler weather. Also, solar pool/spa heating systems typically provide a return on investment after only 1.5 to 7 years.

Tip #7

Replace appliances that "leak energy" in the off position with ENERGY STAR models.

Why: The average U.S. home has about two TVs, a VCR, and a DVD player that consume energy in the "off" mode to keep display clocks running, and memory chips and remote controls working. These "energy leaks" account for 5% of total U.S. electricity use. Replacing these products with ENERGY STAR models, which use up to 50% less energy in the "off" mode, would save more than 25 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, if American households simply switched to the most efficient refrigerators, they would eliminate the need for 20 to 30 power plants.

Tip #8

Replace or clean filters and vents in home cooling and heating equipment.

Why: Regardless of what kind of heating or air conditioning system you own, routine maintenance will improve your comfort and save energy around the home. By regularly changing and cleaning air filters in your home's heating and cooling system, you will help them perform more efficiently.

Tip #9

Home energy use produces twice as much pollution as a single car in one year.

Why: Making your home more energy-efficient helps to reduce air pollution and prevent global climate change. The average house is responsible for twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the average car, annually (22,000 lbs. vs. 11,500 lbs.). That's because every time you flip on a light switch, run your dishwasher or turn on your air conditioner or furnace, you use energy, which means more pollution from power plants. The more energy we save at home, the more we can help protect the environment.

Tip #10

Turn off or unplug unused electrical appliances

Why: The average use of energy in homes PER PERSON (every man, woman and child) has increased a total of 45% between 1990 and 2004. While equipment and appliances may be more energy efficient, we have MORE of them. That adds up. When you are not using an electrical appliance, please turn it off, and if possible, unplug it.

Tip #11

ENERGY STAR labeled products save money on utility bills and help reduce greenhouse gas.

Why: ENERGY STAR, the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency's symbol for energy efficiency, appears on more than 40 product categories. In 2005 alone, ENERGY STAR products helped Americans save enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 23 million cars - and save $12 billion on their utility bills. The ENERGY STAR label designates the most energy efficient products that can cut energy bills by up to 30%.

Tip #12

Replace old light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs).

Why: CFLs provide high-quality light using smart technology and design. CFLs are up to 75% more efficient than typical incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer - saving you up to $30 or more over each bulb's lifetime! Generating electricity for lights creates greenhouse gas emissions at power plants. By simply replacing old light bulbs, you can lower your bill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. During the holiday season, you can replace your old holiday lights with energy-efficient LED light strands and save up to 95% on energy costs. LED lights are also safer than traditional holiday lights and can last for roughly 20,000 hours.

Tip #13

Ceiling fans help save energy and improve comfort in summer and winter.

Why: In summer, or in hot climates, run ceiling fans counterclockwise (or downward) to cool. During winter, run them clockwise (upward motion) at a low speed, to circulate heat that gathers near the ceiling. Most fans have a switch to reverse the spin. When cooling, always turn off your ceiling fan when you leave the room, just as you do your lights (a fan only cools you, not a room, by creating a "wind-chill effect").

Tip #14

Pull electrical plugs or turn off power strips on "vampire" or "phantom" appliances to reduce energy costs.

Why: "Energy vampires" is a term that some people use to describe an electrical appliance that keeps on using electricity - energy - even after you hit the "off" switch. For example, when you turn off the TV, it stays in a "standby" mode. This lets it come on right away when you turn it back on again. Energy vampires eat up about 5% of all the electricity used in the United States, equal to an extra electrical bill of more than $3 billion a year. How to stop an energy vampire: Pull the plug or use a power strip and turn off the entire strip when not in use.

Tip #15

Driving less than 60 miles per hour saves fuel.

Why: While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon for gas.

Tip #16

Reduce vehicle miles traveled. Walk, bike and take public transportation to reduce air pollution.

Why: The average number of miles driven PER PERSON has increased a total of 36% in the past 15 years. This is adding to air pollution. Incidents of asthma, and other respiratory conditions have also dramatically increased in the San Diego region. Plan your trips so that you can reduce miles traveled, and walk, bike and use public transit.

Tip #17

Many factors affect the fuel economy of your car.

Why: To improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, reduce time spent idling and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you have a removable roof rack and you are not using it, take it off to improve your fuel economy as much as 5%.

Tip #18

When running errands, combine trips.

Why: Several short trips taken while your car's engine is cold can use twice as much fuel and produce twice the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

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