Manual Cheap, Quick and Easy Energy Saving Guide

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Now updated in ! The Energy Saver guide offers tips for saving money and energy at home and on the road. By following just a few of the simple tips in the.
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It may not seem like using a compact fluorescent light bulb or fixing a leaky faucet will do much to reduce your energy costs - or protect the environment. But if every household practiced just a few simple conservation ideas like the easy ways to save below, we could reduce energy consumption by a significant amount. All it takes is a few minutes each month, and you'll notice a difference - and make a difference! Do a home energy audit.

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This survey analyzes your home's structure, appliances and insulation, as well as your family's lifestyle. Alliant Energy offers customers a free online energy audit called My Home Comfort Check Up that provides a personalized report detailing specific ways to save energy throughout your home.

Learn more about home energy audits. Change or clean your furnace filter once a month.

Dust and dirt can quickly clog vital parts, making your furnace run harder and eventually break down. Have your heating system inspected regularly - especially if it's natural gas. If you have a forced-air furnace, do NOT close heat registers in unused rooms. Your furnace is designed to heat a specific square footage of space and can't sense a register is closed - it will continue working at the same pace.

In addition, the cold air from unheated rooms can escape into the rest of the house, reducing the effectiveness of all your insulating and weatherizing. Install a programmable thermostat. If you use it to set back the temperature by 10 degrees for eight hours every night, you'll lower your heating bills by 10 percent. Don't set the thermostat higher than you actually want it. It won't heat your home any faster, and it will keep your furnace running longer than necessary.

Vacuum registers and vents regularly , and don't let furniture and draperies block the air flow. Inexpensive plastic deflectors can direct air under tables and chairs. If your home has a boiler system, avoid covering radiators with screens or blocking them with furniture. It's also a good idea to add a reflecting panel behind radiators - you can purchase one at a home center or make one yourself with a plywood panel and aluminum foil.

If your home has electric baseboard heating , be sure to keep furniture and draperies away from the heaters, and leave at least a three-inch clearance under the heating unit. Keep curtains and blinds closed at night to keep cold air out, but open them during the day to let the sun warm the room.

Avoid using space heaters , including electric, kerosene or propane models. Not only are they expensive to operate, they're also very dangerous. If you have hardwood or tile floors , add area rugs to keep your feet warm. If you'll be going on vacation , lower the thermostat to 55 degrees. This will save energy while preventing water pipes from freezing.

Learn more about heating your home. If you have a wood-burning fireplace , have the chimney cleaned and inspected regularly, and burn only fully dried hardwoods to produce the most heat output. Check the seal on the damper by closing it off and holding a piece of tissue paper inside the firebox. If drafts blow the tissue around, repair or replace the damper. When using the fireplace, turn down the furnace to 55 degrees. If you don't, all the warm air from the furnace will go right up the chimney, wasting energy and money. Add fireproof caulk where the chimney meets the wall, inside and outside.

When the fireplace is not in use , make sure fireplace dampers are sealed tight, and keep the glass doors closed. If you never use your fireplace, plug the chimney with fiberglass insulation and seal the doors with silicone caulk. Learn more about using your fireplace efficiently. Check insulation levels throughout your house. Measure attic insulation with a ruler, and check behind switch plates for sidewall insulation.

Install more attic insulation.

101 Ways to Save Energy

Upgrading from three inches to 12 inches can cut heating costs by 20 percent, and cooling costs by 10 percent. Add pieces of batt insulation to the rim joists - the area along the top of the foundation where it meets the exterior walls. If your basement is unheated , install blanket insulation in between exposed floor joists.

Choose the new "no-itch" or poly-wrapped insulation products. They're much easier to handle and safer to work with - making them worth the extra cost. Install additional attic insulation at right angles to the previous layer. You don't have to use the same type of insulation - it's fine to use batts or blankets over loose-fill, or vice versa. When using loose-fill, be sure to distribute the insulation evenly. Any inconsistencies can reduce the insulating value.

While shopping for insulation , remember that R-value measures the amount of thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation. Never cover attic vents or recessed light fixtures with insulation , and allow a three-inch clearance around chimneys and flue pipes to prevent overheating and avoid the risk of fire. Have a leaky roof repaired and make sure your basement is waterproofed. Wet insulation is worthless. Learn more about insulating your home. Maintain your central air conditioner by cleaning the outside compressor with a garden hose be sure to shut off power at the fuse or breaker first.

Take a look at our quick tips and see if you’re saving as much energy as you could be.

Keep plantings at least one foot away for adequate airflow. During late afternoon and early evening, turn off unnecessary lights and wait to use heat-producing appliances. It's also a good idea to shade south- and west- facing windows during the hottest part of the day. One well-placed shade tree can reduce your cooling costs by 25 percent.


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For maximum benefit, place leafy shade trees to the south and west, and evergreens to the north. Use ceiling fans to help circulate air throughout the house, and make sure your attic is properly ventilated. A ceiling fan should run clockwise during the summer, and counter-clockwise during the winter. Set the fan on your central air conditioner to "on" rather than "auto. Make sure your window air conditioner is the proper size.

It's better to get one that's too small than too large - a larger unit will start up and turn off more frequently and won't do as good a job dehumidifying the air. Don't judge the efficiency of your air conditioner by the sound of the fan shutting on and off. The blower will continue to circulate cooled air throughout your home up to 15 minutes after the compressor has stopped.

The same holds true for the furnace. Raise the thermostat to about 78 to 80 degrees whenever you go to bed or leave the house. A programmable thermostat will do this for you automatically. If your home can't accommodate central air conditioning, try a whole-house attic fan. This device pushes hot air out through attic vents, lowering the temperature throughout your home about five degrees in less than ten minutes. Attic fans cost less than 25 cents per day to operate. During the winter, remove window air conditioners and seal the windows with caulk and weatherstripping.

You might also want to cover the central air compressor with a tarp to keep it clean. Learn more about cooling your home. Seal doors and windows with caulk, weatherstripping and plastic film. Don't forget the basement windows! Add foam gaskets behind all outlet covers and switch plates , and use safety plugs in all unused outlets. These are prime places for outside air to leak into your home. Be sure to shut off power at the fuse box or circuit panel first. Check the exterior of your home for air leaks , especially around openings for water spigots, air conditioner hoses, dryer vents and gas pipes.

Use caulk or expanding foam to seal spaces. If your home has a large, single-pane picture window, use heavy draperies during the winter to help hold back cold air. Reflective window film can help reduce heat gain during the summer, and it will keep furniture and carpets from fading. Check window panes to see if they need new glazing. If the glass is loose, replace the putty holding the pane in place.

Most types of window glazing require painting for a proper seal.


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  • If drafts sneak in under exterior doors, replace the threshold. If that's not practical, block the drafts with a rolled-up towel or blanket. Seal the edges of unused doors and windows with rope caulk.

    Top energy saving tips

    Don't seal them shut permanently - you might need quick ventilation or escape during an emergency. Choose the right kind of caulk for the job. Use latex or acrylic caulk inside - it's easy to clean and more forgiving if you're a beginner. Silicone caulk is great for outside use because it lasts longer and seals virtually any type of surface. Don't forget to weatherize the attic access.

    Top energy saving tips: our easiest ways to save energy

    Secure batt insulation to the back of the hatch or door, and use weatherstripping to seal the opening. Learn more about weatherizing your home. Set the water heater temperature at degrees - about halfway between low and medium. This will help save energy and prevent scalding, while keeping unhealthy bacteria from growing.

    More than half the money spent on fuel bills goes towards providing heating and hot water. They allow you to control your heating remotely via a mobile app, meaning that you can manage the temperature of your home from wherever you are, at whatever time of day. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and fittings. If you switch a light off for just a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again, regardless of the type of light.

    These can be more costly to put in place, but will benefit you in the long term. Lines are open on Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm and Saturday from 9am to 5pm. Energy saving quick wins. Understand your bill The information on a typical energy bill can be confusing. Sign-up for Energywire Get more tips and advice delivered to your inbox each month with our monthly newsletter.