Easy Energy-Efficient Tips and Tricks for Every Busy Household Keep an eye on the thermostat If your thermostat is located in a room with a standing lamp near it — meaning that it gets direct light on it for extended periods of time — it could mean your thermostat isn’t reading the room temperature correctly. Thankfully, there is an easy (and free) solution: Pay attention to your comfort level in that room and to how often your heating and air conditioning system turns on. A thermostat in a spot with prolonged exposure to light could trigger your air conditioner to turn on when it’s not needed and your furnace to stay off when you need the warmth. (And did you know that LED specialty light bulbs, which use 25%–30% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, generate virtually no heat? This means it’s less likely to trigger the system to turn on or off! An added bonus: This simple switch can save you up to $75 each year!) Clear the air Did you know one-fifth of the air that’s lost in homes escapes through ducts, and half of the energy spent in your house goes toward heating and cooling? That’s why sealing leaky furnace air ducts is another way to save energy! Also, check your air filter every month, especially those months when you use your HVAC system the most. A dirty filter slows the airflow and makes the system work harder to keep your home warm or cool. (Here is a helpful how-to from HGTV’s Matt Muenster on the topic!) Opt for microwave options Trying to beat the heat this summer? Here’s a helpful tip: On hot days, avoid using the oven. Instead use your microwave or opt for grilling outside. Microwave ovens don’t produce a very large heat load for your air conditioning system during the summer, while stoves and ovens do. (After all, they’re meant to get hot enough to cook food!) In a microwave only the food, the container and a small area of the microwave oven actually get hot. On a stove top, burners must come up to temperature and then take time to cool down after cooking is finished. Dry, hang, repeat Do you give your dryer a “break” between loads? Break time is over! Running back-to-back dryer loads is smart and efficient. It lets you take advantage of retained heat from the previous cycle, cutting down on energy usage. That means dry clothes and more savings for you. Also, be sure to use the auto-dry setting on your dryer so it doesn’t continue to run after your clothes are fully dry. Clean it up Let’s face it: burner pans collect spills. It’s inevitable. But keeping those surfaces clear of food, spills, dirt and any other substance can help your energy usage out. The shiny surfaces reflect heat up to your cookware. When they’re dirty and blackened from heavy use, they absorb a lot of the heat they could be reflecting, so be sure to keep them clean and shiny. Put leftovers away It’s important to refrigerate leftovers right away. Not only will you be decreasing the room temperature from residual heat from your leftovers, but you’ll be protecting your family as well! When food cools to room temperature, the number of bacteria that cause food borne illness can double every 20 minutes! Chilling foods to proper temperatures is one of the best ways to slow the growth of these bacteria. Mastering energy efficiency starts one project at a time. Once you tackle these tasks, visit our Energy Savings Center for your next big savings opportunity!