Common Energy Myths
Ways to Use Energy Wisely
Everyone is interested in using electricity wisely and saving energy dollars. We have developed a number of energy tips on things you might do or think about in an effort to save energy & money. Give these tips some thought – you’ll be glad you did!
- Energy Savers Tips for Alaska – Alaskans pay some of the highest energy costs in the United States! This PDF has excellent tips & tricks for the Alaskan home.
- Touchstone Home Energy Adventure – This interactive tool helps consumers learn how to save energy and money!
- Touchstone Energy Cooperative’s Energy Efficiency website – This website has DIY tips, videos, and quick tips to help you start saving today!
- Appliance Consumption Chart (PDF) – See a list of energy usage for common appliances
HEA's Energy Saving Tips
- Use short cycles for everything but the dirtiest dishes. This can save up to 25 percent on hot water and electrical usage. If your dishwasher has an air-dry setting, use it instead of the heat-dry setting.
Ovens, Ranges & Microwaves
Your food budget doesn’t stop at the checkout counter. Here are some suggestions to help you save energy and money when cooking.
- Pre-heat your oven just long enough to reach the correct temperature. Turn it off five to ten minutes early before removing food from the oven.
- Bake several dishes at the same time. It uses no more energy — you get two or more for the price of one.
- Use a microwave oven when possible. A microwave uses up to 50 percent less energy than a conventional oven.
Refrigerators & Freezers
If you’re like most people, chances are your refrigerator/freezer is one of the largest energy users in your home, gobbling up about 8% of your household’s annual energy costs. Why? Because it requires electricity to operate, and it’s on 24 hours a day using between 100 and 200-kilowatt hours a month.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible. A half-empty appliance uses more energy.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Opening the doors causes the appliance to use more energy.
- Make sure your refrigerator and freezer gaskets are tight. Close the door on a heavy piece of paper. If it pulls out easily, the gaskets may need replacing.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer at the right temperature. If they’re only 10 degrees colder than necessary, your operating costs will go up 25 percent. Refrigerators should be between 38 and 42 degrees and the freezer between 0 and 5 degrees.
Washers & Dryers
Your washing machine may use up to 10-kilowatt hours per load, and your dryer can use as much as 5-kilowatt hours per load. This means that you could be using 15-kilowatt hours of electricity with every load of laundry.
- Washers and dryers can account for as much as 25 percent of electrical usage. When running these appliances always use a full load. Clean the lint filter in your dryer after each use. This will keep the dryer from running longer.
Appliance shopping tips:
Appliance shopping? Compare more than price. If you’re shopping for new or replacement household appliances, you need to compare more than just the prices of different models. Here are a few appliance shopping tips:
- How can you tell what’s the best buy? Go for high efficiency and use the EnergyGuide label. Energy Guide labels show the estimated annual cost of operating the appliance and rank its energy-efficiency. For example: newer more efficient refrigerators use half as much energy as many older models of the same size, so they cost half as much to operate. Be sure to compare cubic footage and purchase price, as well as estimated operating costs. An older 19-cubic-foot refrigerator with a top freezer uses approximately 450-kilowatt hours per month, while a new high-efficiency model may reduce that consumption by 50%. The EnergyGuide label can help you with your decision.
- Use a programmable thermostat: Make sure your thermostat is reading correctly. Use a thermometer you know is accurate to check your thermostat. If your thermostat is reading incorrectly, have it repaired or replaced.
- Don’t touch it: Before bedtime turn down your thermostat for more energy savings. If you don’t want to wake up to a cold house, let a programmable thermostat turn the heat up an hour before you wake up.
- Don’t let heat escape: Weatherstrip and caulk your doors and windows. Check your home’s ducts. Leaking ductwork can be the source of up to 25 percent of heating and cooling costs. When you’re not using your fireplace, close the damper.
- Close them at night: Closing blinds and drapes at night will help keep the cold out and the warmth in. In cooler months be sure to open them in the morning so the warmth of the sun can help heat your home.
- Insulate your home properly: A large portion of your heat can be lost through your ceiling, walls, and floor. That means you’re paying for something you’re not keeping. Proper insulation will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
- Keep it clean: A furnace with a dirty filter or an inefficient boiler has to work harder to heat your home. Check filters at least twice during the heating season, and either clean or replace them. Also, check to see that heating vents are unobstructed so your system doesn’t overwork itself trying to get heat into your home.
- Schedule regular checks: It’s a good idea to have your entire system checked every year by a qualified heating contractor. Consider the purchase of a new heating and cooling system if yours is 15 years or older.
- Wear the layered look: Consider wearing layers of clothing inside the house. It will keep your body heat in and you won’t need to turn up the thermostat.
Time to turn on the fans?
Fall and Winter may seem an unlikely time to think about using those ceiling fans but, in fact, when you turn on the heat, you should turn on the fans as well. Why? Because hot air rises. By switching the direction of your fan so that it pushes the warmer air near the ceiling downward, you’ll get that heated air where it’s most needed. Check your ceiling fans for a simple, small switch that reverses the blade’s direction. If the switch is at the top of the slot, press it downward. Now your fan will move warm air down from the ceiling and help keep you more comfortable this winter.
- Water heating accounts for the second-highest use of energy in most homes, after space heating and cooling.
- Insulate older electric water heaters with an insulating blanket available at hardware stores. If your water heater feels warm to the touch, then it needs additional insulation.
- Insulate your hot water pipes coming out of the water heater. This can result in a 3 percent savings in heating costs.
- Install a piece of insulation board under your water heater for additional energy savings.
- Reduce the consumption of hot water to save you money. Suggestions include:
- Install a low-flow showerhead in the shower as well as reduce time in the shower.
- Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when full loads can be washed.
- Turn down the temperature setting on your water heater to 120 degrees.
- Use cold water as much as possible when washing clothes.
- Repair leaking hot water faucets.
- Don’t let the hot water tap run unnecessarily.
Upgrade Your Lights to LED Bulbs
- Place light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, in heavily used fixtures. They offer similar light quality to traditional incandescent bulbs, last 25 times as long, and use even less energy than compact fluorescent lights.
Other Lighting Tips:
- Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. They will last up to 10 times longer than comparable incandescent bulbs and will produce the same level of light for one-fourth of the operating cost. They also will reduce your home’s cooling load, as they do not produce as much heat.
- Turn off lights when possible and remove unwanted light bulbs where light is too bright.
- Buy Energy Star light fixtures and lamps. They use one quarter of the energy traditional fixtures and lamps use and last longer than brands that do not meet Energy Star criteria.
- Use LED Christmas lights. They use 90% less energy, are brighter than standard Christmas lights and last much longer. Through the long, dark Alaskan winters, the cost of leaving inefficient lights on can add up.
Are you running an efficient office?
Run an energy-efficient office — not merely an efficient office. Electronic office equipment is the fastest-growing source of demand for electricity in the United States. If you want to make the best use of electricity while taking care of your business — whether it’s a full-time job or just playing computer games with the kids — keep these tips in mind:
- Laptop computers are much more energy-efficient than desktop models.
- Energy use varies greatly among the types of computers on the market today. So if you’re buying a new model, check out its energy consumption numbers. But generally, faster computers use more power than slow ones, and color monitors use more power than gray-scale.
- It’s much more efficient to operate peripherals — such as CD-ROM drives, hard drives, and modems — when they’re installed on the computer than to run external add-ons.
- Laser printers use almost twice as much energy as inkjet and dot matrix printers. And with improvements in inkjet technology, the quality they produce is excellent, and they’re much less expensive to purchase.
Why is My Bill So High? Things That May Impact Your Bill…
Every year, we get several complaints about high bills, but the worst of the complaints generally come during the winter.
We can help you track down what is using so much electricity. We have devices you can use to find out how much electricity any individual appliance is using in your home. We will provide these to you at no charge to help you be your own energy detective.