Energy- and money-saving tips from Efficiency Maine

    No cost heating insulation tips: Turn down the thermostat. Consider turning down your thermostat to 55 degrees when the house is unoccupied. At night when you are sleeping, consider turning your thermostat down to 60. It is a common myth that it takes more energy to re-heat a home that has been set to a lower temperature than it does to keep the heat at a constant level. The more you turn down the heat when you don’t need it, the more you will save.

    Adjust window treatments. During the day, let sunlight in by opening curtains, blinds and shades on the windows facing the sun to keep your home warm and reduce heating needs. At night or when the sky is overcast, keep drapes and curtains closed to keep heat indoors.
    Learn how weatherization could make a difference in your home. Answer a few quick questions or calculate your home’s energy efficiency at http://www.efficiencymaine.com/at-home/energy-money-savings-tips/.
    Low cost: Seal leaks. Most Maine homes are too drafty. Seal any leaks in your heating or cooling system ducts. Sealing holes in attics, basements and around chimneys can make a huge difference in energy use and comfort and can help you save as much as 20 percent of heating/cooling costs.
    Caulk and weathers trip. by sealing air leaks around windows, doors, pipes and ducts you can reduce drafts and energy costs.
    Install window films. Use window-insulator kits to cover windows with clear plastic sheets to stop drafts and reduce energy costs.
    Seal off receptacles. Seal off electric receptacles and switch boxes with foam gaskets.
    Insulate pipes. Insulate hot water pipes that provide heat to the rooms in your home. This will reduce heat loss in uninsulated areas and will help your heating system work more efficiently.
    Clean boilers and furnaces. Make sure your boiler or furnace is cleaned and serviced annually by qualified personnel for optimum efficiency. Cleaning substantially extends the life of your heating system while ensuring that it’s operating safely.
    Good investment: Insulate attic access and basement bulkhead doors. Cut your heating costs up to 25 percent with proper insulation. Insulate ceilings, walls, floors and heating ducts. This insulation will not only keep heat from escaping, but will also make your home more comfortable.
    No cost cooling thermostat tips: Save on cooling costs when you raise your thermostat, even one or two degrees, in the summer.
    Do not let the air conditioner bake in the sun. Room air conditioners work best when kept out of direct sunlight. Install them near shade trees or on the north side of the house if possible.
    Seal gaps along the sides of your air conditioner to keep the outside air from seeping in.
    Clean air conditioner filters regularly, keep the front and back of air conditioners unobstructed.
    In warmer weather, delay heat-producing tasks, such as dish washing, baking, or doing laundry, until the cooler evening hours.
    Use an exhaust fan to blow hot air out of your kitchen while cooking. The reduction in your cooling costs far outweighs the cost of using a fan.
    Instead of an air conditioner, open windows on opposite sides of the house for cross-ventilation.
    Use fans in your windows to draw in cooler night air. Close the windows during the day to keep the cooler air in.
    Close window blinds or drapes during the daytime summer hours. Sunlight shining in windows usually adds the largest amount of unwanted summertime heat. During the hottest weather, keep windows closed to keep hot air from blowing into your home. In the evening and early in the morning, open windows to allow cooler air in.
    Low cost: Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs). Standard incandescent light bulbs lose 90 percent of their energy as heat. CFLs produce only a fraction of the heat and do not waste electricity.
    Good investment: If you are going to buy a room air conditioner, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR room air conditioners exceed minimum federal standards for energy consumption by at least 10 percent.
    Plant shade trees to block heat from your windows and roof.
    Cooking appliance tips: Use the smallest burner necessary to do the job. Match your pan size to the burner size. For example, a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner can waste over 40 percent of the heat produced by the burner.
    While cooking, avoid “peeking” by opening the oven door. Each “peek” can lower the oven temperature. Cook several dishes simultaneously in the oven. Consider using a microwave instead of a conventional oven whenever possible.
    Refrigerator and freezer tips: Reduce your annual energy bill by as much as $100 by unplugging and properly disposing of your unneeded refrigerators or freezers. Open refrigerator/freezer doors only when necessary. Keep refrigerator coils (on the back or the bottom of the appliance) clean.
    Make sure the seals on your refrigerator, freezer and oven doors fit tightly. Easily perform this test by leaving a lit flashlight inside a closed appliance and if you see light around the gasket, replace the gasket. Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are not running too cold. The temperature in your refrigerator should be at 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit, and the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Clothes washer  and dryer tips; Use lower temperature settings on your washing machine, preferably the cold water cycle, and only use cold for rinses. The temperature of the rinse water does not affect cleaning.
    Load the washing machine to capacity. Washing one large load will take less energy than washing two loads on a low or medium setting. When you don’t have a full load, match the water level to the size of the load.
    Dry full loads when possible, but be careful not to overfill the dryer, because air needs to circulate around the clothes.
    Don’t over-dry clothes that you are going to iron. Take clothes out of the dryer while they are still slightly damp to reduce the need for ironing—another big energy user.
    If you have room, you can also hang your clothes out to dry.
Clean the dryer filter after each use. A clogged filter will restrict airflow and reduce dryer performance.
    Dishwasher tips: Operate your dishwasher at full capacity. And if the manufacturer’s instructions permit, open the door of the dishwasher at the end of the last rinse cycle, rather than using the drying cycle.
    Choose a dishwasher with several wash cycle selections. If your dishes are only slightly dirty, you can use the light or energy-saving wash cycle, it uses less water and runs for a shorter period of time.
    Choose the right size for your needs. Standard capacity models hold more than eight place settings and six serving pieces. Compact capacity models hold eight place settings and six serving pieces or less. If you have to operate a compact model more frequently, you may actually use more energy than you would with a standard model over time.
    Water heater tips: Set your water heater thermostat at the lowest temperature that provides you with sufficient hot water. If you use a lot of hot water, you may need to set the temperature higher to provide enough hot water for your needs.
    Wrap your water heater with a water heater blanket, especially if it’s in an unheated area of your home.
    General appliance tips: Borrow an electricity monitor from your local library to determine which appliances in your home may be wasting energy. For more, go to http://www.efficiencymaine.com/at-home/energy-money-savings-tips/. Select products with the ENERGY STAR label when buying.

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