Energy Saving Tips
Want to reduce your energy bills? Reduce your consumption, the single largest influence on your bill.
Heating and Cooling
More than 50 percent of annual energy costs come from your home's heating and cooling systems. Check the filters in your air conditioning and heating systems monthly and change them as needed. Vacuum dust and lint from all intakes and outlets. Clean filters allow air to move more freely and systems to work more efficiently.
- Set your thermostat at the lowest comfortable temperature. We recommend 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Every degree above 70 costs an additional 3 percent to 5 percent. For instance, keeping your home at 75 degrees could cost nearly 30 percent more than keeping it at 70.
- During winter months, health permitting, it's best to lower the thermostat to between 60 to 65 degrees at night. By keeping your thermostat 10 degrees lower at night, you'll ave 10% to 20% in heating costs.
- With a heat pump, avoid large changes in thermostat settings. A dramatic increase in temperature may cause the supplemental heat strip to operate, forcing energy consumption much higher along with your costs.
- Change your filter regularly. Dirty filters increase heating and cooling costs.
- Caulk and weather-strip leaky doors and windows. Insulated or storm windows also help reduce unwanted heat loss.
- Open drapes on the sunny side (usually south and west) of your house during the day. You'd be surprised how efficiently that sunlight will warm those rooms. Close drapes and shades at night.
- Make sure drapes and furniture are not blocking air vents or returns.
- A portable heater may allow you to lower the temperature in the rest of the house, but it can also be expensive if used 24 hours. Use portable heaters in moderation.
- Turn off kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans when your air conditioning is operating.
- Keep your central unit fan in the "auto" position. Running the fan 24 hours a day can add as much as $15 a month to your heating costs.
- Keep the outside heating unit clear and clean.
- Close the flue when you aren't using your fireplace.
- Keep your thermostat set at 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. For every degree above 78, you'll save 6 percent to 8 percent on your cooling costs.
- When you leave home, set the thermostat a few degrees higher.
- Change dirty filters. They should be checked monthly. Inexpensive filters should be changed month.
- Be sure the outside unit and indoor return are free of debris.
- You may want to hose off your outside unit a couple of times a year.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. We recommend the following types in our area: ceiling insulation of R-38 to R-60, walls R-13 to R-15, and floors R-25 to R-30.
- Use a ceiling fan or portable fan along with your air conditioning. A fan can make you feel four degrees cooler and costs only a penny or so an hour to operate. It won't cool an empty room, though, so turn it off when you leave.
- Use shades or curtains to block direct sunlight on the sunny side (usually south and west) of your home.
- Whenever practical, use your microwave or countertop appliances for cooking. They usually cost less to operate and they don't heat the room the way a large oven does.
- Have a professional check your central unit once a year. A unit working improperly can force your bills higher, especially older units.
- For central air conditioning systems, set your thermostat fan switch to "auto". Running the central AC fan 24 hours a day can add up to $15 to your bill and doesn't cool any more effectively.
- Set your water heater to 120°. Most manufacturers set the temperature at 140°, but many families operate comfortably at 120°. Not only does this save money, it also reduces the risk of hot water scalding.
- To save additional energy, install a low-flow shower head and limit showers to five minutes.
- Replace conventional light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). CFLs use a fraction of the energy that traditional bulbs use and can be found in many stores.
- Purchase energy efficient products when replacing appliances and heating and cooling systems. Look for ENERGY STAR® products.
- Carefully-positioned trees can save up to 24% of a household's heating and cooling costs. The U.S. Department of Energy says that only three trees planted strategically can save an average household $100 to $250 degrees in energy costs per year.
- Deciduous trees should be planted on the southern and western sides of the house to shade during the summer while allowing light in during the winter.
- Evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and northwest sides can provide a windbreak.
- Also, shading your AC unit can make it run up to 10% more efficiently.
Want to find more savings?
Homes can have hidden problems that cause bills to skyrocket in the summer or winter, such as missing insulation. A home energy audit may help you locate and solve these mysteries.
Home Energy House Call is an online scheduler that allows Duke Energy to perform an energy audit at your home. Click here to get more information.