These simple steps don't cost a thing, but can potentially save you 10-25% on your monthly energy bill.
Turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Don't forget your computer - it can use as much energy as a refrigerator. Most new computers have "sleep" settings.
In the cold months, set the thermostat to 68 degrees when home, and then back to 58 degrees when sleeping or when you're not home more than four hours.
In the winter, open window coverings on the sunny side of your home to take advantage of "free heat from the sun." Close the coverings on cloudy days or right after the sun sets.
In warm months, set the thermostat to 78-80 degrees when home and 5 to 10 degrees warmer at night or when you're not home.
In the cooling season, close blinds and drapes during the day to keep heat out.
Also, use your dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, and cook as late in the evening as possible.
Barbecue outside if practical, keeping in mind the heat and effect of sun on your body. By reducing the heat coming into your home from any source, will reduce the load on your air conditioning.
Use pool trippers to reduce the time your swimming pool pump runs on--eight to twelve hours a day is plenty.
Set your water heater to 120 degrees.
Vacuum your refrigerator coils (underneath and in the back) and don't obstruct the coils. They need air space to work.
Keep the seals (gaskets) on refrigerators and freezers clean.
Keep your freezer as full as possible. You can place containers or plastic bottles filled with water in the empty spaces.
Make sure food is cool and covered before it goes into the refrigerator.
Run full loads in your washer and dryer, and use "solar drying" (clotheslines).
Use energy saver option on your dishwasher, allowing dishes to air dry.
If you A/C unit is on the ground, keep the area around it clean and free of obstructions to maintain air flow.
Unplug your televisions/VCR when you're on vacation. Most new sets draw power even when they're turned off.
Keep lights and lighting fixtures clean, especially if you're reducing the number of lights you use. Dirt absorbs light. Let lights cool before cleaning them and never touch halogen bulbs with your bare hands. The oil from your skin can greatly damage the bulbs. Use a small piece of paper to hold the bulb.
If your dishwasher has a filter clean it.
Clean the reflectors underneath the burners on stovetops.
Low Cost Tips
There are plenty of low cost, easy to do projects or steps you can do to save another 10-25% on your energy bill.
Use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent ones. This will typically save $1 per bulb changed out (for bulbs running 4-6 hours per day) and reduce heat in your home. Regular bulbs use most of the electricity to generate heat so use care when changing bulbs.
Clean furnace system and check ducts for leaks.
Caulk windows and caulk and weather-strip doors. Keep the outside air out and the inside air in.
Install a hot water heater blanket but be careful not to cover vents or temperature settings.
Install hot water pipe insulation. Do keep the insulation at least six inches away from the flue (exhaust pipe) of gas water heaters.
Install electrical outlet and switch plate insulation
Plant trees and shrubs on the south and west side of your residence. The vegetation acts as insulation and provides shading, reducing thermal gain in a building.
Fix leaky faucets Install low-flow showerheads.
Use room fans to keep the air moving and reduce the feeling of heat in your home.
Replace furnace and air conditioner filters. Spray the filters with a light coating of lemon furniture polish or vegetable oil cooking spray to help trap dirt in the filter.
Check the seals on your refrigerator and freezer.
Replace normal thermostats with programmable thermostats.
Consider buying a cover for your pool to retain heat in the water.
Added Cost Tips
With the help of a contractor, these steps could potentially save you another 25% on your monthly bill. Remember to do your research before you sign a contract or put down a deposit.
Install floor and ceiling insulation: It is recommended to have a minimum of an R-30 - R-38 insulation in the attic and R19 insulation in the sub-floor.
Replace inefficient and single pane windows with energy efficient multi-pane, thermally-broken, vinyl-framed windows.
Energy efficient appliance replacement. All appliances have an Energy Guide Label that tells you how efficient it is and how much it will cost you to run. Often times, an appliance more than 10 years old is not likely to be energy efficient.
Servicing your heating and air conditioning systems once a year, replacing them if necessary.
Testing and sealing the ductwork. Not only does this improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, it makes the house more comfortable.
Have ceiling fans installed in all bedrooms and your family room. They can make you more comfortable while allowing you to save money by adjusting your thermostat respectively.
Add window screens or window films to reduce the solar energy from entering your home.
Adding a solar heater for the water in your swimming pool.