Energy-Saving Tips by Season
marketingImage

Some steps can be taken to make your home more energy-efficient every day of the year.

SUMMER | WINTER | SPRING | FALL


SUMMER

As the weather starts to warm up, it’s time to think about becoming more energy efficient around your home to help lower summer energy bills.

  1. Make your A/C work smarter

    Optimizing air conditioner use is the best place to start when it comes to being energy efficient — and saving money — in the summer. Here are some easy ways to get the most from your A/C:

    • Make sure your air conditioner is running in tip-top condition and have it serviced before summer starts. If your unit is old and inefficient, consider replacing it with an ENERGY STAR®-rated air conditioner.

    • Clean your A/C’s air filter and any air vents. Pay extra attention during heavy-use months like June. At a minimum, change the filter every three months.

    • Ensure that vents are not blocked by furniture to keep cool air circulating throughout your home.

    • Use large, heat-producing appliances like your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer at night to avoid running your A/C overtime.

    • Install a smart thermostat and let it learn your habits to make automatic energy-efficient adjustments.

    • Set your ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise to force cool air straight down.

  2. Shield the sun with your blinds
    • Direct sunlight shining into your home can cause it to heat up quickly. Before you turn your air conditioner on, try closing your curtains and blinds during the day to cool your home.

    • If you need to keep a room bright but cool, simply tilt the blinds to redirect the light toward the ceiling. Since heat rises, it will stay toward the ceiling while you enjoy the cooler air below.

  3. Maximize your fridge's efficiency

    Refrigerators can be major power consumers, but there are several ways to help keep costs down:

    • Keep your refrigerator well-stocked. The fuller a fridge, the less energy it needs to expend to keep cool. The cold items inside the fridge continuously help maintain the cool temperature.

    • Reconsider that second fridge or freezer. You may think it’s convenient or cost-efficient to keep a second one in your basement or garage, but it’s really using additional energy that is probably not necessary.

    • Older refrigerators are much less efficient than newer energy-efficient models. If your current fridge is more than 20 years old, or otherwise on its last legs, consider upgrading to save energy — and money — in the long run.

  4. Insulate your home
    • Weatherproofing your home will help keep cool air in and heat out in the summer — and vice versa in the winter. Sealing air leaks around windows and doors, adding weather stripping and checking your home insulation will keep you comfortable in an energy- and cost-efficient way.

  5. Minimize phantom power

    When you leave electronics plugged in but don’t use them, they still use electricity. Known as phantom power, phantom load and vampire power, this standby power consumption typically accounts for 5% to 10% of a home’s electricity bill.

    You can outsmart these vampires by:

    • Unplugging electronics not used frequently. (For safety reasons, leave larger appliances plugged in.)

    • Using a power strip to easily turn off and unplug multiple electronics at once.

    • Choosing ENERGY STAR®-rated products, which have lower standby power consumption.

    • Knowing which devices consume the most electricity when powered off but still plugged in. For example, video game consoles eat up five times more vampire power than DVD and Blu-ray players.




SUMMER | WINTER | SPRING | FALL


WINTER

Follow these winter energy-saving tips to use less electricity during the colder months and help lower your energy bill:

  1. Heating, ventilation and ductwork
    • Maintain your heating system. Maintenance is essential for your heater to work properly. Make sure filters are clean and replace them periodically during the season.

    • Close unused air vents. Heating rooms you don't use is a surefire way to increase your electricity bill. Close off vents in rooms that only get occasional use.

    • Let vents breathe. The heat blowing out of your registers needs a clear, unobstructed path into the room to properly heat it. Rearrange the furniture in each room so it doesn't block the registers and prevent airflow.

    • Seal ductwork. To keep ductwork from leaking heated air, seal it at joints and intersections with foil-backed tape or silicone caulking.

    • Check your air filter. Pay extra attention during heavy-use months like December. At a minimum, change the filter every three months.

  2. Water heaters
    • Insulate everything. Insulate the first three feet of cold and hot water pipes near your water heater. You can also wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket when it's not being used.

    • Lower your water heater temperature. Water heaters are often set to 140 degrees, but setting them between 120 and 125 degrees is sufficient to provide hot water for your home, reducing your energy costs. It also prevents scalding.

  3. Thermostats
    • Install a programmable thermostat. This is essential to saving energy: When you're at work, school or otherwise away from home, set the thermostat lower than usual for the time frame when the house is empty.

    • Try a smart thermostat. For even more energy savings than a regular programmable thermostat, you can invest in a smart thermostat. In addition to being programmable, it also learns your preferences over time and adjusts automatically. Plus, you can control it from your smartphone to have it turn the heat on before you arrive home or turn it off if you're going to be out longer than expected. By making adjustments on the go, you can save money by not heating an empty house.

    • Set your thermostat two to three degrees lower. For every degree you set your thermostat below 78°F, you’ll see a five- to seven-percent increase in your cooling costs. So, in the summer months, raise your thermostat to lower your electricity usage. Need the secret to not feeling the difference in degrees? Use your ceiling fans! Simply switch them to spin in a clockwise direction to help recirculate warm air that has risen to the ceiling.

    • Lower the thermostat at night. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends lowering your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees at night and using blankets to keep you warm. This will save you about 10% on your heating bill.

  4. Windows and doors
    • Seal all leaks properly. Poorly installed or insulated windows and doors, as well as light fixtures, pipes and wires, can be sources where energy leaks into and out of your home. If daylight can be seen around a door or window, it requires sealing. Use caulking or weather stripping to keep the cold air out and the warm air in. Cracked or loose weather stripping should be replaced for the best seal.

    • Insulate windows with plastic. If you are not able, or not allowed, to do repair work (for example, in apartments or rental homes), you can prevent heat loss from windows by taping clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame. The effect is similar to adding a second pane of glass to the window.

    • Install energy-saving window coverings. If you're in the market for new curtains or shades, look into insulated curtains and other thermal window treatments to help prevent heat loss.

    • Enjoy the sunshine. We often forget that the sun is still a natural source of energy in winter. Open up your shades and curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to naturally heat your home for free. (But close them at night to reduce any chill from cold windows).

  5. Ceiling and exhaust fans
    • Set your ceiling fan to spin clockwise. When spinning clockwise, your ceiling fan's blades push the hot air back down after it has naturally risen, distributing warm air in an energy-efficient manner.

    • Only use exhaust fans when necessary. Your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans pull in hot air that has risen and send it outside. Use them sparingly!

  6. Fireplaces
    • Seal it. If you don't use your fireplace, you can seal the flue area to keep cold air from getting in.

    • Turn off the pilot light. For natural gas fireplaces, make sure to turn off the pilot light when you're not using the fireplace.

    • Close the damper. Unless a fire is burning, close the damper. Leaving it open is like leaving a window open, letting cold air in and allowing warm air to escape up the chimney.

  7. Appliances
    • Cook meals in large batches. By cooking in bulk, you can save energy by reheating servings in the microwave instead of using the oven each time.

    • Use a pressure cooker. Modern electric pressure cookers utilize a fully insulated external pot and require much less water for cooking, making them an energy-efficient choice in the kitchen. They reduce cooking time by up to 70% compared with boiling, steaming, oven cooking or slow cooking.

  8. Attics
    • Check your attic insulation. Most attics should have about 10 to 14 inches of insulation (a value of R-38).

    • Insulate the access door. Even if your attic is well-insulated, the access door may not be. To prevent rising warm air from leaking into the attic, use adhesive to attach fiberglass batt insulation to the attic side of the door, forming a good seal.

  9. Holiday lighting
    • Use LED holiday lights. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, light-emitting diode (LED) lights use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lights, making them an energy-efficient choice for holiday lighting. Plus, strands of LED lights are also safer and sturdier than their traditional counterparts.

    • Plug light strands into a power strip. This makes them easier to turn off and unplug during the day, meaning less wasted power. Note: You can apply this tip to many other energy-intensive devices around your home, too.

    • Put decorative lights on a timer. Nobody will see your lights at 2 a.m., so why keep them on all night? Leave them on for six hours or less each day to spread holiday cheer without running up your bill.

    • Use battery-powered decorations. Battery-powered candles provide just the right amount of soft light and look elegant, and the batteries last a long time. And if you invest in rechargeable batteries, you'll save even more over time.

  10. Other tips for around the home
    • Bundle up to save a bundle. Instead of automatically turning the heat up when you're chilly, bundle up in some extra layers like a cozy blanket, warm mittens and/or a comfy sweater.

    • Turn off the pilot light. For natural gas fireplaces, make sure to turn off the pilot light when you're not using the fireplace.

    • Use extra blankets. Why let blankets go to waste in the closet when they could be providing you with additional warmth at night? Use another blanket or two at night so you can comfortably turn down the thermostat a few degrees.




SUMMER | WINTER | SPRING | FALL


SPRING

As nicer temperatures energize you to tackle some spring cleaning, use that time to optimize your home for energy efficiency.

  1. Check your lightbulbs
    • Swapping incandescent or CFL bulbs with more efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in your most-used light fixtures can save you a bundle over the years. Residential LEDs use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescents.

  2. Keep up on A/C maintenance
    • Make sure you clean your HVAC system’s filter, as well as air vents around your home. Also consider having your air conditioner serviced by a professional to ensure that it’s ready for the hot summer months ahead.

  3. Seal air leaks
    • Make sure your home won’t lose any of that precious cooled air in the summertime by fixing air leaks around doors and windows now. Bonus: You’ll be ready for the winter weather, too, when it comes back around.

  4. Research ENERGY STAR® appliances
    • If you’ve been contemplating replacing any of your appliances — from your water heater to your washer and dryer to your refrigerator — take a good look at the ENERGY STAR® facts labels on potential replacements. ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances can offer significant savings over time.

  5. Don’t forget about water conservation
    • Every faucet and showerhead in your home can benefit from low-flow plumbing parts, which help conserve water.

  6. Put your shades to work
    • Control the temperature inside your home with your shades and curtains. Use them either to shield your home from direct sunlight and keep it cool or to allow sunlight in to provide added warmth.

  7. Give your clothes dryer a break
    • Hang your clothes on a clothesline or drying rack outside and let the sunshine do all the work — for free. You’ll save energy and money by not running your dryer as often. Plus, clothes will feel and smell better, last longer, and won’t shrink when hung to dry.




SUMMER | WINTER | SPRING | FALL


FALL

Fall is an excellent time to maximize savings on your electricity bill. Use this transition period as an opportunity to make small changes around your home to prepare for the months ahead.

  1. Find alternatives to using your heater
    • Take advantage of sunlight. Open your curtains on south-facing windows in the morning and let the power of the sun warm your home during the day for free. And when you arrive home, don’t forget to close the curtains to lock in that free heat.

    • Use ceiling fans. Many people don’t realize that ceiling fans aren’t just for summertime — they can also be used in colder months to your advantage. Heat rises, so set the fan blades to spin clockwise and they will push warm air down from the ceiling.

    • Layer up. On crisp autumn days, celebrate all that fall fashion has to offer by adding a warm sweater or scarf instead of automatically reaching for the thermostat.

  2. Lower your thermostat
    • Keep your thermostat set at 68 degrees or lower when at home. When temperatures outside begin to drop, set your thermostat as low as comfortable for your family so your system won’t have to work so hard.

    • When not at home, turn your thermostat down more. When you’re gone during the day or for longer periods of time, set your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees lower to conserve energy.

    • Lower your water heater temperature. Water heaters are often set to 140 degrees, but setting them between 120 and 125 degrees is sufficient to provide hot water for your home, reducing your energy costs. It also prevents scalding.

  3. Reduce heat loss around your home
    • Upgrade your insulation. Whether you hire an expert or do it yourself, adding the correct amount of insulation in your exterior walls, crawl spaces, basement and/or attic can deter heat loss and help you save on your electricity bill.

    • Seal air leaks and cracks around windows and doors. You’ll save on electricity costs by keeping hot air in and cold air out in autumn and winter.

    • Check your fireplace. When you’re not burning a fire in your fireplace, keep the damper closed to prevent warm air from escaping out the chimney. You can also add caulking around the hearth to ensure heat stays in.

    • Don’t forget about tiny leaks. Did you know electrical outlets, light switches and lighting fixtures can all be sources of heat loss? Install plastic security caps in outlets or foam gaskets behind outlets and switches to minimize these small but persistent leaks.

  4. Maintain your HVAC system
    • Schedule a seasonal checkup. An HVAC technician can make sure your heater is running efficiently and ready to keep you cozy during the colder months ahead.

    • Replace your furnace filter once a month (or as needed). Keeping your air filter clean is one of the most important energy-saving tips for fall — and winter, spring and summer. Not only does a clean filter allow proper airflow for peak HVAC performance, it also filters out dust, dirt and other allergens from your home.

    • Perform a vent check. Make sure all the air vents around your home are free from furniture, drapes, toys or other items that can restrict airflow.

  5. Consider ENERGY STAR® appliances
    • Invest in energy efficiency. If you’re considering a new furnace, water heater or other large appliance, it’s always wise to consider those with ENERGY STAR® labels. These energy-efficient models can help you achieve a lower electricity bill by reducing your usage.

By using some of these tips for saving energy in the summer, winter, spring and fall, you can make your home be more energy efficient and help reduce your electricity bill.




Account tools and programs to help you save:

More ways to save
Find out how you can use less energy. Learn more ›

Average Billing
Keep your energy bills under control with Average Billing. Your monthly bill will be based on a rolling 12-month average usage, giving you more predictability and avoiding seasonal spikes. Get started ›

Payment assistance
Keeping up with bills and due dates can be hard sometimes. We understand, and we want to lighten your load. See assistance options ›




Winter Bill Tips FAQs

What is electric heat?

  • Electric heat is heat produced by an appliance (e.g., an HVAC unit) using electricity instead of some other fuel like natural gas.

How do I know if my home is heated with electricity or some other heating source?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your home use a fuel source other than electricity, such as gas? Do you pay your electricity bill plus another fuel bill?

  • Does your clothes dryer have a conventional plug and wall outlet, or is the plug bigger than normal? Gas dryers typically have normal-looking plugs, and electric dryers usually have bigger plugs to accommodate larger voltage.

    If you still aren't sure whether your furnace is gas or electric, ask an HVAC technician.

How can I save energy during the holidays?

  • We have several holiday cooking, decorating and general energy tips that can help you save electricity and money.

Will using portable heaters help save on my electricity bill?

  • Portable space heaters can help you save money in some instances. If your central heating system is electric and your space heater is in good working condition with an accurate thermostat, the space heater could be the cheaper option, provided you turn your central heater down and only use one or two space heaters in very isolated areas for short periods of time.1

  • However, if your central heating system runs on gas, an electric space heater will not reduce your electricity bill. It could potentially reduce your total energy costs (gas and electricity) if you use the space heater in only a small area and are sure to turn it off when you are not in the room, but you would have to compare your gas bill against the cost to run the space heater on electricity.

  • If you decide to use a space heater, be sure to buy one that is the appropriate size for the space you want to heat. Invest in a model that includes a timer to avoid leaving it on too long, as space heaters are a fire hazard and can consume more energy than anticipated when left unattended.2

    1Consumereports.org

    2Energy.gov

How often should I get my chimney inspected?

  • The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be inspected once per year.3 The Chimney Safety Institute of America adds that you should sweep your chimney once it contains 1/8" of soot—sooner if your fireplace is glazed—to prevent chimney fires.4 Whether you use your chimney or not, debris may be present due to storms, vegetation, animals, birds and general deterioration, so annual maintenance is necessary.

    3National Fire Protection Association

    4Chimney Safety Institute of America

Does a fireplace save energy over winter months?

  • • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you can use it to heat very large spaces without the use of electricity or gas. A gas fireplace could save you on your electricity bill if your central heater is electric, but if your central heater runs on gas, it may not be of benefit.

  • No matter which kind of fireplace you have, keep your fireplace efficient and safe with regular maintenance and sweeping.

Does lowering the temperature of my water heater save money on the electricity bill?

  • Yes, reducing the temperature of your water heater can help you lower your electricity bill if your water heater is electric. If your water heater is gas, you may still save money, but the savings would be seen on your gas bill, not your electricity bill.

  • Most homes only need the water heater to be set at 120°F, even though the water heater manufacturer may have the water heater set much higher by default.5

    5U.S. Department of Energy

How frequently should I schedule regular maintenance for my furnace or heat pump?

  • We recommend a heater tune-up at least once per year, in the fall before winter hits, where a licensed professional will perform a service check on your system and recommend any needed repairs.

I simply cannot afford my bill. What can Discount Power do for me right now?

  • If you are having trouble paying for your current bill, call 1-877-455-4674 to talk about payment plans and options available to you. We can help.

  • For help with future bills, try one of these options:

    • Consider different payment options, like Average Billing. Call 1-877-455-4674 to see if you're eligible. With Average Billing, your monthly bill will be based on a rolling 12-month average usage, giving you more predictability and avoiding seasonal highs.

    • Dial 211 to learn about additional assistance available in your community.


Click here to learn more tips or sign up for Discount Power to start saving today!