Energy Saving Tips


Ashburnham Municipal Light Plant, Ashburnham, MA

Pointers To Help You Save.

You can save energy and money in many ways, in every season with Ashburnham Municipal Light Plant's All-season Energy Saving Tips.

AIR & DRAFTS

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Energy you'll save: 10 to 20 percent! In a typical home, air leaks can be responsible for 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling.

Try these.

  • Insulate: The single most important step in residential energy conservation is the installation of thermal insulation. Check current insulation levels, and properly insulate a new or existing home according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) specifications for your geographic area. Insulate ceilings, walls, and floors over unconditioned crawl spaces to the appropriate values.
  • Window Glazing: Double-glazed windows (two panes of glass separated by a sealed air space) cut heat transfer by 40 to 50 percent. In extremely cold regions like ours, triple glazing could be economically justified.
  • Storm Windows: Single-glazed windows should have storm windows. A storm window provides a second thickness of glass and a layer of still air that reduces heat transmission substantially.
  • Double Your Doors: If your doors are old, but still in good condition, install storm doors at the entrances of your house. A storm door helps save energy because it reduces the air infiltration that occurs when the prime door is opened and also reduces the amount of heat transfer through the prime door when it is closed.
  • Delete Drafts: Weatherstrip and caulk around all entrance doors and windows to limit air leaks that could account for 15 to 30 percent of heating and cooling energy requirements.
  • Proper Fireplace Use: Fireplaces should have tightly fitting dampers that can be closed when the fireplace is not in use. Open dampers allow the natural draft of
    chimneys to pull warm air out in winter and cool air out in summer.

Get Even Smarter! Get more tips with Energy.gov's Energy Saver Guide by clicking here.

HEATING & COOLING

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Your choice of and age of heating and cooling equipment, plus your thermostat settings can make a big difference. Remember, heating and cooling take up about 50% of your home’s total energy bill.

Check out these tips.

  • Get Highly Efficient Heat: If you’re buying a new heating system, consider a high-efficiency electric air source or ground source heat pump. The energy efficiency is rated according to a federal standard called the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF. Heat pumps with an HSPF of 10 are almost 3 times more efficient than the most efficient natural gas furnaces.
  • Clean The Filter: Clean or change your HVAC system’s air filter on a regular basis to save energy and prevent strain on your system.
  • Set Your Thermostat: Keep it as low as comfortably possible during the heating season. Just a one-degree increase for each degree above 68º can save 3 to 5% on energy costs.
  • Location Location Location: Locate your heating thermostat on an inside wall and away from windows and doors, otherwise, cold drafts will cause the thermostat to keep the system running even when the rest of the house is warm enough.
  • Find A Pro for Cooling: Seek professional help in determining the size of cooling equipment. Oversized units should be avoided, not only because they draw more energy than is necessary, but also because they won't dehumidify properly.
  • Caulk and Seal: Seal cracks and other openings in your home to minimize air leaking in...or out.
  • In The Shade: Direct sunlight falling on a window air conditioning unit increases its workload. When a choice is possible, locate such units on the north or shady side of the house.

IN THE KITCHEN

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Fridges. Freezers. Stoves. Try these tips to save on your bill.

  • Select refrigerator and freezer sizes that are just large enough for your family’s needs. Energy usage is proportional to cubic feet of refrigerated space, regardless of whether all of the space is utilized.
  • Consider replacing your refrigerator or freezer BEFORE it breaks down. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when shopping for refrigerators or freezers. On average, ENERGY STAR® refrigerators use 9-10 percent less energy than units meeting the minimum federal standard.
  • On older refrigerators, vacuum clean the condenser coils of refrigerators and freezers (in the back or at the bottom of cabinets) every three months or so. Dust-covered coils impair the efficiency of compressor operation and increase energy usage.
  • Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer colder than necessary. For the food compartments, recommended temperatures are 37-40º for the refrigerator and 5º for the freezer.
  • Chest-type freezers are less likely to lose cold air when doors are opened than upright freezers.
  • For the same storage capacity, chest-type freezers use anywhere from 8 to 30 percent less energy than upright freezers.
  • On the stove, to cook efficiently, heat must be transferred from the electric cooking element to the food with minimum loss to the surroundings. To help do this, select pots and pans with absolutely flat bottoms. Spherical bottoms leave an air gap that provides a ready escape route for heat.
  • Expand your family’s menus to include stews and other single-dish meals that can be prepared in a slow cooker. Such meals require far less energy than those calling for the simultaneous use of the oven plus two or three surface units.
  • Based on Dept. of Energy data, typical gas cooktops are 15.6 percent efficient, while electric coil cooktops are 73.7 percent efficient, and electric smooth cooktops are 74.2 percent efficient.
  • Develop the habit of “lids-on” cooking. Tightly fitted lids help keep heat within pots and pans, permitting the use of lower temperature settings and shorter cooking times.

LIGHTING

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New energy standards have been implemented over the past few years that require light bulbs to use substantially less energy, in order to consume less energy (watts) for the amount of light produced (lumens). LED bulbs now produce up to a 100 watt equivalent of light while using only 20 watts.

Handy Tips:

  • Low or Off: Dim or turn off any unnecessary lights when not using them.
  • Choose The Right Light: Provide “task” lighting (over desks, tool benches, craft tables, etc...) so that work and leisure activities can be done without illuminating entire rooms.
  • Choose The Right Light: Use LED, CFL and Halogen light bulbs. They save enormous amounts of energy and money. Watch for them on sale.
  • Choose Long Life: Consider using LED light bulbs, especially in hard-to-reach fixtures. A 60-watt incandescent bulb can be replaced by a 7.5 to 12-watt LED bulb that will have a rated lifetime of more than 25,000 hours.
  • Right Place, Right Time: When possible, place floor, table, and hanging lamps in the corner of a room rather than against a flat wall. Lamps in corners reflect light from two wall surfaces instead of one and, therefore, give more usable light.
  • Go Light: The reflectance of interior surfaces has an important bearing on lighting efficiency. In home decoration, choose lighter colors for walls, ceilings, floors and furniture. Dark colors absorb light and require higher lamp wattage for a given level of illumination—and cost more. You'll need much less wattage to illuminate a light colored room.
  • Holiday Savers: For holiday lighting, consider using LED lights. Not only will LED lights reduce electric use by more than 90 percent compared to traditional incandescent holiday light bulbs, they will last more than 25,000 hours.

WATER HEATING

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One of the biggest energy users in your home, next to heating and cooling systems, is your hot water heater or system, using 15 to 25 percent of your total energy usage.

Check out these tips for saving.

  • Make sure your new water heater is energy efficient with an Energy Factor (EF) of 0.95 EF for an electric 55 or below-gallon unit, 0.615 EF for a gas 55 or below-gallon unit, and 0.62 EF for an oil 55 or below-gallon unit.
  • Lowering your water heater temperature setting from 140°F to 120°F can reduce your water heating energy bill by more than 10 percent.
  • It is important to keep the system properly maintained. Once or twice a year, drain a bucket of water out of the bottom of the heater tank because it can be full of sediment. The sediment insulates the water in the tank from the heating element, which wastes energy.
  • You might want to invest in a relatively inexpensive water heater insulation kit. Older hot water tanks (except super-insulated tanks) generally are not insulated very well, so an extra layer of protection will keep the heat from being lost through the walls of the tank. Be sure to read the instructions on the kit carefully. Do not insulate over any doors, vents, or relief valves.
  • When buying a water heater, it is wise to correctly estimate your needs. Don’t buy a water heater that is too large for your family, but you should consider your future needs as well as your present requirements. Demands for hot water will be greater as the size of your household increases, as your children become older and begin to take showers or soak for hours in a full tub of water, and as certain new appliances (such as hot tubs or Jacuzzis) are added.
  • Repair leaky faucets promptly. A steady drip of hot water can waste many gallons of water per month, plus the energy needed to heat the water.
  • Letting the water run while shaving or when washing dishes by hand is needless waste. Avoid this by using sink stoppers and dishpans.

OTHER ELECTRONICS

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Try saving more this way.

  • The typical U.S. home now has, on average, 28 electronic products, 99 percent of which must be plugged in or recharged. Turn off these products when they’re not in use. Or, use a power strip as a central “turn off” point when you’re finished using equipment. This will help to eliminate the standby power consumption used by many electronics even when they are turned off. Unplug any battery chargers or power adapters when electronics are fully charged or disconnected from the charger.
  • Some TVs have a “quick start” option, which makes the TV turn on more quickly when you press the power button. However, this option uses much more power in the “standby mode”—typically 25 to 50 watts, compared to the normal standby mode usage of 1 to 3 watts. If you don’t mind waiting for a few seconds, turn off this option to save energy.
  • Some TVs come with a power-saver mode that is designed to reduce energy consumption. Performance of this mode varies from model to model. The power-saver mode usually makes the TV less bright, but this also can help with image quality, especially with the room lights turned off.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when shopping for a variety of electronics and appliances, such as dehumidifiers, ceiling fans, battery chargers, DVD players/recorders, Blu-ray players, sound bars, MP3 Speaker boxes, cordless phones, home stereo systems, cable boxes or set-top boxes.
  • Computer screen savers may save screens, but they do not save energy. Make sure that the screen saver does not deactivate your computer’s sleep mode. You can set the computer to operate by screen saver, then go into the sleep mode.
  • If you are not going to use your personal computer for more than 20 minutes, turn off your monitor. If you are not going to use your computer for more than 2 hours, turn off your monitor and CPU. It takes a lot more energy to have your computer running than the energy it takes to start it.
  • Unplug chargers of appliances from outlets when they are not being used or if they are fully charged. Leaving unused appliances and chargers plugged in wastes energy because they are on standby mode, which is still using electricity.
  • The power-saving mode on smartphones does not actually save much power at all, it just shuts off the phone’s screen. The phone actually is in idle mode, which means it is still constantly looking for a clear signal and incoming data. The best thing to do to save energy on your smartphone, is to turn it off when it is not in use.
  • To save battery life on your smart phone, be sure to properly close applications that you are not using.
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