Simple Ways to Save

Where does your energy dollar go? For every $1 spent on home energy, the typical family spends:

  • 45¢ for home heating
  • 30¢ for water heating
  • 15¢ for appliances (refrigerator, freezer, clothes washer and dryer)
  • 10¢ for lighting, cooking, entertainment and other miscellaneous energy uses

Find out how to save energy in all areas of your home with the tips below.

Check Those Thermostats

Set your thermostat at 68 degrees, or lower, for comfort and savings.

  • Use the lowest setting at which you feel comfortable.
  • Once you’ve set it, leave it alone—constantly adjusting it costs you money.
  • Older thermostats are often inaccurate. Place a thermometer next to your thermostat to help you set it correctly.
  • If you start to feel chilly, put on another layer of clothes before turning up the thermostat.

At bedtime, or when you’re away from home, set your thermostat to 55 degrees.

  • Turn the temperature down when you leave the house for longer than one hour.
  • Setting the temperature higher won’t warm up the house faster—it just wastes energy.
  • For every 1 degree you lower your thermostat, you’ll save about 3 percent on your heating costs.
  • Replace standard thermostats with heat-anticipating or electronic thermostats. Their accuracy is much greater, and they’ll save on your heating bill while increasing your comfort level.
  • Install automatic setback thermostats. They’ll remember to turn the heat down at night, even if you forget. And they’ll turn it back on in the morning so your home will be nice and warm when you wake up.
Don’t Slow the Flow

Dirty furnace filters or baseboard heating elements waste heat by blocking the air flow.

  • Be sure to clean or replace the air filters in your furnace every 3 months during the heating season. (Put a note on your calendar to remind yourself.) And remember that many forced air heating systems have two or more filters.
  • Move furniture at least one foot away from heat registers or baseboard heaters.
  • Don’t block heat registers, baseboard heaters or radiators with drapes and curtains.
  • Don’t close off registers on heat pumps.

Baseboard Heaters

  • Carefully remove the covers from electric baseboard heaters and vacuum dust and dirt from the fins. Make sure to securely replace the covers.

Fan-Forced Wall Heaters

  • Remove grills and wash them in hot soapy water, then dry. Vacuum off blower wheels only. Don’t attempt to vacuum the heating element. Instead, blow dust off the element with the blower side of the vacuum.
Help Your Windows Keep You Warm

Low-cost improvements to your windows will help keep you warmer.

  • Open the curtains on south-facing windows during the day.
  • Close curtains, drapes and shades at night.
  • Caulk around window and door frames from the inside.
  • Tape over pulley holes of double-hung windows.

Install low-cost storm windows for added comfort.

  • Channel-lock plastic storm windows can be reused.
  • Use a hair dryer to give shrink-fit plastic storm windows a tight fit.
  • Make your own outside storm windows with clear vinyl and wooden frames.

Upgrade your windows for even greater efficiency.

  • Replace single-pane windows with double-pane or even triple-pane windows.
  • Look for other energy-saving features in new windows like vinyl frames, argon gas between panes, and “low-E” coatings.
Don’t Pay to Heat the Outdoors

Keep the warm air in and cold air out.

  • Close fireplace damper or glass doors when not in use. (Make sure your fire is completely out!)
  • Replace or cover missing or broken windows, and seal any holes in walls, ceiling or floor.
  • Weatherstrip around windows, doors and attic access.
  • Seal leaks in heating ducts and insulate to an R-8 level. Use mastic and high quality duct tape to make repairs.

Stop cold drafts for greater comfort.

  • Use V-weatherstripping for door top and sides.
  • For door bottom, replace missing gasket or install door sweep.
  • Seal electrical outlets on exterior walls by installing inexpensive gaskets, available at most building supply stores.
  • Use rope caulking or V-weatherstripping for windows.
  • Seal holes around plumbing pipes in walls and floor with caulking compound or expanding foam spray.

If your home has indoor moisture problems during the winter, such as mold, mildew or condensation, reduce the sources of indoor moisture before sealing air leaks. Check for blocked gutters and downspouts, and for wet crawlspaces and basements. Use bathroom and kitchen fans, if available.

Water Heating

The electric water heater is the second largest energy user in most homes. Reducing hot water use is a great way to save on energy costs.

  • Set your water heater thermostats to 120 degrees. (Simply turn off the electricity at the breaker box, remove top and bottom cover plates on the side of the heater, adjust both thermostats to 120 degrees, replace covers and turn power back on.)
  • When it’s time to replace your water heater, get one with an energy factor of .93 or higher.
  • A heat pump water heater is another option when replacing your old water heater. Heat pump water heaters use warmth from the air to heat water, and use a lot less energy than a standard water heater. If you have a family of four, or use large quantities of hot water, you may really benefit from a heat pump water heater.
  • Sediment buildup in the hot water tank reduces efficiency. Flush the sediment out once a month by drawing several buckets of water from the bottom tank drain valve. (Be sure to disconnect the water heater at the circuit breaker before starting this job and remember to turn it back on when you’re finished.)
  • Turn off the water heater at the breaker if you’ll be gone from home for 3 days or more.
  • Insulate hot and cold water pipes. This will save lost heating energy and also give your pipes better protection from freezing.
  • Use cold water whenever possible to do normal household cleaning
Use Less Water

Showers use a lot less water than baths.

  • Why pay 24¢ for a bath, when you could spend less than 17¢ for a great shower?

Not all showerheads are the same.

  • Low-flow showerheads use less than half the water of ordinary showerheads.
  • Low-flow showerheads provide adequate water, even if your home has low water pressure.
  • You won’t run out of hot water as often.
  • New showerheads are very easy to install.

Don’t fill the tub all the way.

  • Every inch of water in a standard-sized tub uses about five gallons of water.

Fix leaky faucets.

  • A steady drip of hot water can cost $5 per month. Repairing a dripping faucet is easy.

And speaking of sinks…

  • Install faucet aerators in the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Look for those with a low-flow rating of 2 gallons per minute (gpm).
In the Laundry

Energy for hot water to wash clothes can cost 15¢ per load.

Wash clothes in warm or cold water, and rinse in cold water, too.

  • Follow recommendation on fabric care label—WARM or COLD WASH is usually fine.
  • Measure detergent. Dissolve powder soaps first, or use liquid detergent.
  • Wash full loads or use specific water level settings.
  • Don’t overload your washer—clothes won’t get clean in an overloaded washer.
Dry Clothes Efficiently, Too

Electric clothes drying costs about 27¢ per load.

  • Hang clothes on an outside line or in an outside porch.
  • Dry your clothes all at once. Stop-and-start drying wastes energy warming your dryer up each time you begin.
  • Clean the lint filter before every use. Check vent hose.
  • Don’t overload the dryer.
  • Sort loads into fast and slow drying items.
Refrigerators / Freezers

Energy for your refrigerator costs about $4 to $8 per month. Why waste it?

  • Set your refrigerator to 38 or 40 degrees and your freezer from -5 to +5 degrees. Check the temperature with a thermometer placed between food packages. (The product temperature is important—not the air temperature.)
  • Check door gaskets periodically for signs of deterioration. Close the door on a small piece of paper. If the paper pulls out easily, the gasket should be replaced.
  • Defrost when ice or frost buildup is 1/4 inch or more. Heavy layers of frost make the motor work harder. Ice buildup in a frost-free refrigerator usually means there’s an air leak and the door gasket may need replacing.
  • Vacuum the coils on the back or underneath your refrigerator or freezer. A buildup of dust on the coils seriously reduces efficiency.
  • Allow heated foods to cool down, at least an hour, before placing them in the refrigerator. There’s no risk of spoilage, and your refrigerator won’t have to work so hard.

If you have a second refrigerator or freezer, think about getting rid of it. If it’s not being used to full capacity, you’re wasting a lot of energy.

Other Ways to Save


  • Replace incandescent and fluorescent fixtures with LEDs. An LED lamp is 4 times more efficient.
  • Use 40- or 60-watt bulbs in closets or hallways. Replace all bulbs with lower wattages wherever possible.
  • Use timers on lamps used for security or vacation lighting.


  • When you buy new appliances, check the energy guide label to find the actual operating cost.


  • Try to arrange meals so you can cook more than one thing at a time in your oven.
  • Cover pans when cooking—foods cook faster and your kitchen stays cooler. In fact, don’t even boil water in an open pan.
  • Whenever possible, use electric fry pans, toaster ovens or microwave ovens instead of the oven or range.

Ask Central Lincoln

  • Central Lincoln has lots of energy-saving tips you can take advantage of. Please call our Energy Efficiency Hotline at 888–883–9879 for more information.