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Energy Savings Tips

ENERGY SAVINGS TIPS

Rocky Mount Energy Resources is committed to helping customers achieve their money-saving goals. We offer free energy audits to help customers learn how energy is used in homes and businesses, how to reduce consumption, and how to lower energy costs. Customers can also make low-cost and no-cost changes to their homes and businesses to reduce the energy costs of heating and cooling, lighting, water heating and using appliances.

For Your Business

Lighting
  • Install light emitting diode (LED) exit signs in place of incandescent signs. They last up to 15 times longer and use less energy.

  • Adjust outdoor lighting timer controls at clock changes for daylight savings time. Consider installing photocells which sense daylight and turn off automatically when it is no longer dark.

  • Turn off lights, computers, and other office equipment when they are not in use. Develop a procedure for staff to ensure that they get turned off at night and on weekends.

  • Install timers on outdoor safety and security lighting. This will automatically turn lights on and off at predetermined hours of the day.

  • Turn off lights when they are not needed. Lights should be off whenever an area is unoccupied, such as when people go to lunch or a meeting.

  • Take advantage of natural light. Turn off some or all of the lights near windows during daylight hours.

  • Install more efficient sources of light. Compact fluorescent lamps and halogen lamps are more efficient than traditional incandescent light bulbs.

  • Try task or spot lighting. By focusing extra light just where you need it, you may reduce the need for overhead lighting while decreasing glare and eyestrain.

  • Keep lights clean as dust and buildup can reduce their life expectancy and light output.

  • Consider removing some of your fluorescent lamps as a no cost alternative. Offices originally designed for pen-and paper work offer many opportunities because people working at computers often prefer less light and glare.

  • Upgrade your lighting. Many standard fluorescent tubes are 4 ft. long 40 watt T-12s. It can pay to upgrade to the higher efficiency, 32 watt T-8 fixtures. (The number after the T represents eighths of an inch: a T-12 has a ½ inch diameter; a T-8 has a 1inch diameter).

  • T-8 lamps improve energy efficiency by about 10 percent. Their electronic ballasts (devices that provide the proper voltage and current to fluorescent lamps) use 30 percent less energy than old magnetic ballasts used by T-12s.

  • Before throwing away any old lamps or ballasts, check state and local regulations for proper disposal methods because lamps could contain mercury and pre-1979 ballasts may contain PCBs.

  • Consider installing occupancy sensors. Occupancy sensors detect people and movement in a room and automatically turn lights on and off. The more hours the lights are off, the greater the energy savings. Private offices, conference rooms, restrooms, and storage areas are good candidates for occupancy sensors.

Office Equipment
  • Copiers are the most energy-intensive piece of office equipment. They use a lot of energy just sitting idle for long periods of time.

  • Turn equipment off whenever possible. Make sure machines are turned off whenever your facility is unoccupied or when machines will not be used for a considerable amount of time.

  • Enable energy saving software. If your machines are equipped with energy saving software, be sure to turn it on.

  • Clean, tune and adjust equipment. Maintaining your equipment will extend its life and keep it running more efficiently.

  • When purchasing new office equipment, always look for the ENERGY STAR label.

  • Network several users to one printer to reduce energy costs and capital expenses by buying fewer printers.

  • Run copies in batches to decrease the time your copier spends in and out of the high powered mode.

  • Turn off equipment when not in use for a while.

  • Buy the smallest size copier to suit your needs.

  • Buy an ENERGY STAR certified copier. It will turn off automatically when inactive, cutting your annual copy related energy costs by more than 60 percent.

Heating & Cooling
  • Install programmable thermostats to control heating and cooling. Programmable thermostats allow the business owner to set a schedule to automatically set back the thermostat during the night or times of day when the business is unoccupied.

  • During the winter months, set the thermostat at the lowest comfortable setting and the highest comfortable setting during the summer months. RMPU recommends 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter and 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer.

  • Keep windows and doors closed to prevent heat loss during winter or loss of cool air in summer. Consider opening doors and windows to provide ventilation instead of air conditioning in the summer.

  • When turning on equipment at the start of the day, turn on individual pieces of equipment in 15 minute intervals instead of turning them on all at once. This will require less energy at once and will instead stagger the energy over a period of time.

  • Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems account for 39 percent of the electric energy used in commercial buildings, which means your business can realize significant savings by improving the efficiency of your systems.

  • Turn HVAC systems down or off when not in use. If your facility is unoccupied at certain times (nights and weekends), lower the heat or raise the air conditioning to save energy costs.

  • A fan in the "on" mode runs non-stop, 24 hours a day; in "auto" the fan cycles only when supplying heat or air conditioning.

  • Use more efficient temperature settings. During the winter months, try gradually lowering the thermostat by a total of 3- to 5 degrees; slowly raise the temperature by the same amount during the summer months.

  • Replace air filters regularly. Clean air filters keep a system performing at its most energy efficient while keeping the air clean. Clean or change filters quarterly, once a month in peak heating and cooling months.

  • Seal any cracks or gaps with weather stripping or caulk. Look for cracks around windows, doors, utility switches/outlets and any other gaps between inside and outside.

Refrigeration
  • Keep the doors shut. Repeated temperature changes damage your food quality and cost you money.

  • Check the temperature settings. If your settings are lower than necessary, you are probably wasting money.

  • Properly load your refrigerator. A refrigerator that is too full disrupts the air flow needed to cool items properly. An empty refrigerator wastes energy, as well. If you have partially filled units, consolidate and turn off any unneeded refrigeration.

  • Properly distribute refrigerator units. Don't put the drink machine next to cooking equipment or in direct sunlight. Extra heat makes the refrigerator work harder to maintain temperature settings.

  • Ventilate refrigerators properly. A 1 inch gap on the sides and a 4 inch gap at the back are recommended to give the refrigerator's condenser and fan access to a steady flow of air.

  • Clean the cooling coils. Dirt build up can impair heat transfer and lowers refrigeration efficiency and capacity.

  • Check the door seals. Tight seals keep warm air out. TIP: if you can easily slide a dollar bill from the seal, have it adjusted.

Hot Water
  • Reduce the amount of water used. Install low-flow showerheads in showers and aerators in bathroom and kitchen sinks.

  • Reduce the temperature of the hot water. Thermostats on water heaters are often set much higher than necessary. RMPU recommends setting the temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum energy efficiency.

  • Consider installing a water heater timer. You can set the timer to turn off the water heater when it is not needed (nights and weekends).

  • To reduce heat loss in your hot water system, make sure the hot water tank and the pipes connected to it are well insulated.

  • Schedule or perform regular maintenance to maximize your savings.

For Your Home

Heating
  • Make sure heat vents and return air vents are not blocked by furniture or drapes.

  • Change HVAC filters twice a year and clean it monthly during the heating season. Return filters should be changed each month. TIP: change the filter when the rent/mortgage payment is due.

  • Set the thermostat at the lowest possible setting. RMPU recommends setting the thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months to maximize comfort and savings.

  • Set back the thermostat a maximum of 10 degrees at night, unless you have a heat pump.

  • Install a programmable thermostat to properly regulate the temperature. Programmable thermostats allow you to set a schedule to automatically set back the thermostat during the night or times of day when the home is unoccupied.

  • If you suspect your thermostat is not accurate, place a thermometer nearby and see if they record the same number.

  • Do not use the oven to heat your kitchen.

  • Install weather stripping and caulk around all doors and windows to prevent air infiltration.

  • Keep dampers closed when the fireplace isn't in use. If unblocked, a good chimney can draw up to 20 percent of the warm air out of the house each hour.

  • Open shades and drapes on the sunny side of the home to help heat it during the day. Be sure to close the shades or drapes at night to prevent heat loss.

  • Use ceiling fans to distribute heat around the room.

Cooling
  • Set the thermostat at the highest comfortable setting. RMPU recommends setting the thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months to maximize comfort and savings.

  • Install a programmable thermostat to properly regulate the temperature. Programmable thermostats allow you to set a schedule to automatically set back the thermostat during the night or times of day when the home is unoccupied.

  • Use drapes or shades to block the hot sun during the warmest hours of the day.

  • Strategically placed landscaping can cut down on energy costs. Planting trees and shrubs near south and west-facing windows will create more shade and help cool your home.

  • For a quicker solution, add a lattice screen with a vine plant on it. Be sure the screen is far enough from the house to prevent the plants from attaching themselves to the facade of the home.

  • Use cross-ventilation. Open a window high on one side of your house and another one low on the other side. This will promote natural cross ventilation. Do this in the cool of the early morning or evening.

  • Keep windows closed during the heat of the day.

  • Install weather stripping and caulk around all doors and windows to prevent air infiltration.

  • Take advantage of warm weather and cook outdoors when possible. Cooking outdoors can prevent oven and stove heat from contributing to your home's temperature.

  • A 100-watt standard light bulb puts out about 90 watts of heat and halogen torchiere floor lamps are equivalent to small space heaters. Changing lights that are turned on for extended periods of time to a cooler operating fluorescent can reduce the lighting-related heat in your home.

Water Heating

The second largest energy user in most homes is the water heater. Here are a few ways to save on water heating costs:

  • Set the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to shut off power to the water heater before making the adjustment.

  • Fix leaky faucets immediately. One drop of hot water per second can waste 2,300 gallons of water per year, plus the electricity needed to heat it.

  • Keep hot tub water at a maximum of 104 degrees Fahrenheit for safety reasons. For each 10 degree drop in temperature, you can save up to 5 percent in water-heating energy costs.

  • Use cold water instead of hot water to operate a garbage disposal.

  • Do not run hot water continually when washing dishes by hand.

  • Install low flow showerheads, and take shorter showers. Using less water in the shower also reduces the amount of energy needed to heat the water.

  • Proper water heater maintenance will help the equipment operate more effectively and efficiently.

  • If your water heater is in an unconditioned space, wrap it with an insulation blanket. These blankets can be found at most home improvement stores.

  • Wrap hot water pipes that are in unconditioned spaces with insulation.

  • Check hot water pipes in crawl spaces for leaks and repair them.

  • If you have an electric water heater, consider installing a water heater timer. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, customers can save an additional 5-12 percent of energy by installing a water heater timer that turns the water heater off at night or during times when you are not using hot water.

Refrigerator/Freezer

Because they operate around the clock every day of the year, refrigerators and freezers are usually the third biggest user of electricity in the home.

  • Vacuum the condenser coils in the back or bottom every few months.

  • Set refrigerators no colder than 37 degrees Fahrenheit and freezers at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider installing a refrigerator/freezer thermometer.

  • Defrost your freezer regularly.

  • Fill refrigerators and freezers to capacity when possible to allow them to operate at maximum efficiency. Allow enough room for air to circulate around food.

Oven and Range
  • Thaw foods before cooking to prevent longer cooking times.

  • Microwave ovens and small appliances typically consume less energy than an oven or range.

  • If a food takes more than an hour to bake it can be placed in a cold oven - no need to pre-heat.

  • Do not open the oven door. Each time the oven door is opened, up to 25 percent of the heat is lost.

  • Decrease the oven temperature by 25 degrees if you use glass or ceramic dishes.

  • Match the size of your cooking utensil to the burner. The bottom of a pan should completely cover a heating element but not extend more than an inch beyond it.

  • Finish cooking most foods on low-heat settings.

Clothes Washer
  • Use full loads and adjust the water level to the size of the load.

  • Use the coolest water setting that will clean clothes adequately.

  • If you're shopping for a new clothes washer be sure to check out the Energy Star® models!

Clothes Dryer
  • Check the dryer vent annually to be sure moist air is being vented outside your home.

  • Operate your dryer only when full (not overloaded).

  • Use the lowest heat setting appropriate to the clothes fabric being dried.

  • Clean the lint filter after each load of clothes has been dried.

  • Remove clothes before they are bone dry and wrinkles are set to reduce the need for ironing.

Household Appliances Operating Costs

There's been much emphasis on weatherizing your home to use less energy. Equally important is understanding appliance operating costs and energy consumption so you can make informed choices.

Your house can use all sorts of energy, even if you are not home. To increase convenience, many appliances are always on, even when you are not using them. Televisions and other appliances with an "instant-on feature may eliminate delay in the appliance being ready for use, but there is an energy penalty to pay. Computers and monitors are other items that are often always on. As a rule, just about any device with a remote control is always on. The water heater, refrigerator and freezer are other examples of appliances that consume energy, around the clock, whether you use them or not.

Use the Appliance Cost Calculator below to compare operating costs and energy consumption. This tool is very helpful if you are shopping for new appliances. Use it to compare consumption by entering the wattage of current vs. new appliances and measure the costs.

APPLIANCE COST CALCULATOR
Wattage of Appliance Watts
How long is it used each day? Hours
Cents per KWh
     
Cost per day $
Cost per month $
Cost per year $
Lighting
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room.

  • Use timers in garages, attics and other areas where lights may be accidentally left on for long periods.

  • Use motion sensor controlled lights outdoors.

  • Use dimmers and three-way bulbs whenever possible so you can adjust the light to your need.

  • Keep lamps and light fixtures clean because dirt absorbs light.

  • Change your five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR. ENERGY STAR certified compact fluorescent light (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs provide the same brightness (lumens) as incandescents with less energy (watts). (Lumens indicate light output; watts indicate energy consumed.) Use the following chart when shopping for bulbs to determine how many lumens you need to match the brightness of your old incandescent bulbs.

Incandescent Bulbs
(Watts)
ENERGY STAR Bulb Brightness
(Minimum Lumens)
40
450
60
800
75
1,100
100
1,600
150
2,600
While You Are Away

Your house still uses energy even when you are not there. Here are a few tips to help you save energy while you are away:

  • The water heater uses energy by keeping the water in the tank hot. Turn off an electric water heater at the breaker box or set a gas water heater to "pilot" if you are going to be gone for more than three days. You'll need a few hours to heat the water when you return.

  • Unplug your waterbed heater, or lower the thermostat to 70 degrees Fahrenheit when away from home seven days or more. Like water heaters, waterbeds will take time to warm up.

  • Consider installing photocells or timers for lights, which provides added security and saves energy. Photocells will turn the lights on at dusk and turn them off at dawn. Timers will turn the lights on and off at predetermined times.

  • The refrigerator is usually the largest user of energy in an unoccupied home, but it is not practical to unload, defrost and unplug it if you are only away for a week or two. If you leave your refrigerator on, remove perishable food, set it to a warmer temperature and fill it with gallon jugs of water (to occupy the space so the condenser will not run). This will reduce temperature fluctuations and save energy.

  • Don't forget to unplug the TV, computer, monitor and printer, and any voltage transformers for rechargeable and multi-voltage appliances. Any device with an "instant-on" feature or a cordless remote control uses energy even when it is turned off.

  • During the winter, lower the thermostat to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At settings lower than 50 degrees, you run an increased risk of frozen pipes in cold weather.

  • The only way to know for sure that an appliance is not drawing energy is to turn off the power supply by unplugging it or turning off the breaker.

Winter Energy Services

Home Heating
  • Keep drapes, curtains, shades and blinds open during the day to take advantage of the heat from the sun (especially on south-facing windows).

  • Set the thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit or the lowest comfortable setting.

  • Change air filters monthly.

  • Close the damper when the fireplace is not in use. A chimney is designed to remove by-products from a fire by creating a draft. The draft also pulls the warmed air from your home. Even without a fire in the fireplace, there will still be a draft in the chimney as long as there's a temperature difference between indoors and out.

  • Caulk and weatherstrip around windows, doors and openings to the outside to prevent air infiltration.

  • Make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork. Also make sure that all vents are clear of any furniture or rugs to improve air flow and comfort.

  • Space heaters should only be used to heat a small space, not the entire home as they can result in higher electric bills.

  • Use ceiling fans to distribute heat around the room. Most fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan in the opposite direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the living space.

Appliances and Electronics
  • Set the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum efficiency and comfort.

  • Wash clothes in cold water, and wash and dry only full loads. Clean the lint screen in the dryer after every load.

  • The recommended temperature setting for refrigerators and freezers is 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit for the fresh food compartment and 5 degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer. Separate freezers for long-term storage should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Make sure the refrigerator door seals are airtight.

  • Use a power strip as a central "turn off" point for electronics, video games, and computers when not in use.

Download the Winter Energy Savings illustration.

Download the "Do Your Winter Bills Give You Chills?" bill insert.