Easy Tips to Create an Energy-Efficient Home

Green Building for Consumers
Contact: Sustainability and Green Building

High energy consumption hurts the environment and your wallet. Here are suggestions to help you reduce energy consumption in your household.

Heating System

  • Clean or replace heater and air conditioner filters regularly. Keep outside vents free of leaves or debris that may clog vents.
  • Write the date on the filter, so you remember when you last changed it.
  • When the heat is on, set your thermostat as low as you feel comfortable. You save for each degree you lower the average temperature of your home.
  • Close doors to seldom-used rooms and turn off heat or air conditioning in these areas.
  • Keep windows near your thermostat tightly closed; otherwise, your furnace will not shut down even after the rest of the house is heated to the desired temperature.
  • If you have oil heat, check the firing rate periodically.
  • Dust and vacuum radiator surfaces frequently. Dust and grime impede the flow of heat.
  • Keep drapes and shades open in sunny windows; close them at night.
  • For comfort in cooler indoor temperatures, use the best insulation of all — warm clothing.

Air Conditioning

  • Keep your cooling system well-tuned by a professional service person.
  • Clean or replace air-conditioner filters regularly.
  • Set your air-conditioner thermostat as high as you feel comfortable.
  • If you have window air conditioners, turn them off when a room will be vacant for a few hours. Use a fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner.
  • Keep out daytime sun with blinds or shades.
  • Dress appropriately for the warmer indoor temperatures.
  • Open the windows and use a fan on warmer days.

Smart Appliance Use

  • Use large appliances in the early morning and late evening (off-peak hours).
  • Keep range top burners and reflectors clean so your stove operates at peak efficiency.
  • When using an oven or an electric burner, turn it off slightly before the cooking is done. The oven or element will stay hot after you turn it off.
  • When you have a choice, use the range top instead of the oven.
  • Scrape dishes before loading them into the dishwasher so you won't have to rinse them.
  • Let your dishes air dry.
  • Air dry clothes when possible on racks or clothing lines.

Water Heater

  • Minimize hot water use by taking shorter showers.
  • Set your water heater at 120 degrees.

Conserving Water

  • Take showers rather than baths. Showers use about a third as much water.
  • Take shorter showers; consider using a timer.
  • Avoid leaving the water running while shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Don't use the toilet as a trash can.
  • Use the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.
  • Don't run water continuously for vegetable and dish washing.
  • Water lawns in the morning to avoid evaporation.
  • Keep grass at least 2 inches high to shade roots.
  • Use mulch or ground-covering plants to prevent excessive evaporation.
  • Use waste water from the house to water your garden.
  • Plant native or drought-tolerant plants.
  • Water trees slowly, deeply and infrequently to encourage deep rooting. A slow drip for an hour once a week should be sufficient for most trees.
  • Use a broom rather than the hose to clean off walkways, patios and other outdoor areas.
  • Use a bucket of water or a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle when washing your car instead of letting the hose run.


Reduce the amount of garbage you generate by buying and using products wisely:

  • "Precycle" by purchasing products in recyclable reusable containers.
  • Purchase foods in bulk or concentrate.
  • Avoid non-reusable nor easily recyclable products.
  • Make two-sided photocopies.
  • Use cloth rather than paper towels.
  • Remove your name from mailing lists to stop unwanted junk mail.
  • Reuse product whenever possible.
  • Start a compost pile with leaves and grass clippings.
  • Leave a coffee mug or two at work and avoid using disposable cups.
  • Use blank back sides of used paper for scratch work.
  • Purchase high-quality used items instead of new ones.
  • Bring a reusable grocery bag to the store.
  • Mend clothes and repair broken items.
  • Invest in reusable products, such as cloth towels, sponges, glass dishes, metal eating utensils and rechargeable batteries.
  • Drop off used motor oil, antifreeze and car batteries at places that recycle automotive wastes.
  • Donate clothing, books, toys, appliances and furniture to charitable organizations.