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Energy Saving Tips

Everyone wants to save money. We can all do that by being more energy efficient. The great thing about saving money by being energy efficient: it helps the environment, too. We put together this checklist of things you can do around the house to help lower your energy bills. Some of them are simple and free, some require a little investment; all of them work.

Vampire Voltage

Some chargers and electronics draw electricity even when they aren’t turned on or currently charging a phone, laptop, or other device. This is called Vampire Voltage, and when you add it all up, it can add unnecessary costs to your monthly energy bill. Watch the video below to learn how you can put an end to the volt suckers.

Replacing Bulbs

Swapping out incandescent bulbs with more efficient, longer lasting compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) or LED bulbs can add up to a lot of savings over the course of the lifetime of the bulbs. Learn more about how much you can save by swapping by watching the video below.

Finding the Sweet Spot

A few degrees difference on your thermostat and water heater can go a long way to lower your energy expenses and save you money. Take a look at the video below to find out just how much you can save by setting and programming your thermostat and adjusting the temperature on your water heater.

Conserving Energy Helps You, Us, and the Environment

We're all about everyone saving money. We can all do that by being more energy efficient. The great thing about saving money by being energy efficient: it helps the environment, too. We put together this checklist of things you can do around the house to help lower your energy bills. Some of them are simple and free, some require a little investment; all of them work.


  • Natural light is free. Use it whenever possible. A typical light bulb turned on for 12 hours a day costs $37.50 per year. Burn it for only six hours and save $18.75. Seem like it's not worth it? Multiply that number by every bulb in your home.  
  • Replace spent incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, which use a fraction of the energy. Good candidates for replacement in your home are 60-100-watt bulbs that are on several hours per day. 
  • Teach your children energy-saving habits early on. Invest the savings in their future. 
  • Consider using motion-sensor lights if you have difficulty remembering to turn lights off. Or install timers to turn lights on and off for you. 
  • Buy bulbs with the Energy Star label.
  • Keep bulbs clean. Dirt absorbs as much as 50% of a bulb's light. 
  • Light means bright. Buy light-colored or translucent lampshades. Consider painting your walls light colors as well, especially in rooms that receive little natural light. 
  • Save by using only the light you need. Use three-way bulbs and task lamps to fine-tune the lighting to meet your need. 
  • Buy for efficiency. Compact fluorescent bulbs last up to 10 times longer. 
  • Install low accent lighting along walkways and drives. This costs less than elaborate outdoor lighting and increases safety. 
  • Avoid cheap, halogen torch lamps, which can be a fire hazard. A compact fluorescent torch is not a fire hazard and can save more than $30 per year in electricity costs.


  • Natural light works here, too. Let sunlight in during the day by opening the shades, particularly on the south and west sides of the house. Close them at night to keep the warmth in.
  • Keep your thermostat set at as low a temperature as is comfortable. The experts recommend 68F. Every degree below that decreases your bill by 1-3%.
  • Keep your thermostat setting constant throughout the day. Lower it at night. Frequent changes to your temperature setting wastes energy.
  • A programmable thermostat can lower your heating costs by as much as 20% and pay for itself within the first year.
  • Homes can be leaky. Whistling windows and doors, utility cut-throughs for pipes, electric outlets, gaps around chimneys, recessed lights, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets snatch money right out of your pocket. Also, insulate all air ducts and pipes. Doing some or all these things can save you up to 10%.
  • Replace single-pane windows with energy-efficient ones. In cold climates like Vermont, the savings can be significant.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters once a month.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard registers, and radiators. Keep drapes, carpeting, and furniture from obstructing the flow of warm air into rooms.
  • Check the insulation on exterior walls and in your attic. If it's not already, bring it up to adequate levels.
  • Don't heat rooms you don't use. Close the heating vents in unoccupied rooms and save 5-10%.
  • Avoid using portable heaters or space heaters. A typical portable heater uses 1,500-watts and can cost more than $100 per month to use.
  • Consider hiring an energy auditor. A penny's worth of expertise and a good blower door can save you dollars in the long run.


  • Plant shade trees and shrubs on the west side of your home.
  • During the summer months, draw shades during the day to keep cool. Open them at night.
  • Open windows. Creating crosscurrents of air is a free and effective way to cool your home.
  • Install an attic fan and enlarge the attic vents to disperse the buildup of heat. Heat from the attic eventually finds its way downstairs.
  • Install a ceiling fan. It will use 1/10 of the electricity of an air conditioner and will help circulate cool air.
  • Locate air conditioners on the north side of the house, preferably in a shaded area.
  • Don't cool rooms you aren't using. Close air ducts in unoccupied rooms. Doing so can save you between 5-10%.
  • Every degree that you raise the thermostat on your cooling system saves 2% on your electric bill. Set your thermostat to 78F or higher during the summer.

Water Heater

  • Don't use a lot of water. Run less, or no water, while brushing your teeth, shaving, washing your face, and washing the dishes.
  • Save baths for a special occasion. A typical bath uses 15 to 25 gallons of water. A five-minute shower uses 10 gallons.
  • Install aerators in faucets and showerheads. Aerators decrease the flow of water and can reduce your hot water consumption by half.
  • Federal standards require that new showerheads run at no more than 2.5 gallons per minute. Installing a low-flow showerhead can save you as much as 15,000 gallons of water a year.
  • A leak of one drip per second can cost as much as $1 per month. Repair leaky faucets and showerheads.
  • Insulate your hot water tank and pipes to prevent heat loss. Doing so can help save up to $50 per year if it's an older model. Newer tanks have enough built-in insulation; there'ss no need to add more.
  • Drain a quart of water from your hot water tank every three months. This helps remove sediment and boosts efficiency.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120F. Every 10F reduction saves you 13% per year.


  • Wash clothes using cold water instead of hot or warm water. Cold water washes just as effectively and costs less. Use warm or hot water as infrequently as possible.
  • Don't use warm rinse cycles at all. This will save $25 per year with electric washers, $10 with gas.
  • Wait until you have enough laundry to wash a full load. Your washer uses the same amount of energy regardless of the size of the load.
  • Adjust the water level in your washer to the lowest appropriate setting.
  • Use shorter wash cycles for lightly soiled and delicate clothes. Presoak dirtier clothes. Use a shorter wash cycle for them as well.
  • When the time comes, consider buying a front-loading washer. This type of washer reduces energy use by 50%, uses less water, and requires less detergent. Front-loaders also handle clothes more gently and spin them drier.
  • Use only as much detergent as needed. Too many soap suds make your washer work harder than it has to, which uses more energy.
  • Use the suds-saver option if your washer has one. This saves rinse water for the next cycle.


  • Line-dry clothes whenever possible. It's free and environmentally friendly.
  • Clean the lint trap before or after every load. Lint reduces airflow in the dryer, making the dryer work harder than it has to.
  • Dryers are more efficient when full. Combine loads to optimize its energy use. 


  • Don't just stand there with the door open! Know what you want before you open the fridge. The average family opens the fridge door 40 to 60 times per day, which eats up about $20 of the annual electric bill.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door closes and seals properly. A proper seal will hold a dollar bill rather snugly.
  • Place the refrigerator out of direct sunlight and away from hot appliances like the dishwasher or oven. A five-degree difference in air temperature can have a 20% effect on energy consumption.
  • Give your refrigerator some breathing room. Make sure there is at least two inches of clear space on all sides of the fridge, especially around the coils and compressor.
  • Keep the temperature inside your fridge between 37 and 40°F. Anything colder than that isn't necessary.
  • Packing the fridge tightly cuts down on air circulation, making the fridge work harder. Try not to stuff things together.
  • Keep food covered in the refrigerator, preferably with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Uncovered food releases moisture, forcing the compressor to work harder.
  • A "butter conditioner", sounds like a cool feature, but it's actually a little heater inside your refrigerator. Think about turning it off.
  • Turn off the moisture control feature on all but the hottest summer days. It will save you up to 10%.
  • Regularly defrost your refrigerator before frost builds up to ? of an inch, if necessary.
  • Dust or vacuum the coils on the back or bottom of your refrigerator on a regular basis. This increases efficiency and prevents the unit from breaking down.
  • If you have an older refrigerator, consider replacing it with a newer, energy-efficient model. Newer models use 1/3 of the energy of 15- to 20- year old models. The savings on your energy bill pays for the new fridge rather quickly.
  • Reconsider running the extra fridge in the garage or basement. A 15-year-old fridge could cost you as much as $200 per year in electricity.


  • Keep the temperature inside your freezer at 0-5°F. Anything colder is not necessary.
  • Make sure the freezer door closes and seals properly. A proper seal holds a dollar bill snugly.
  • Regularly defrost your freezer before ? of an inch of frost builds up, if necessary.
  • Avoid putting hot foods directly into the freezer. Let them cool to room temperature first.
  • Keep extra, freestanding freezers in a basement or garage that stays above 45F. Extreme cold can disrupt the function of refrigerants.
  • Keep the freezer stocked. A full freezer is an efficient freezer and keeps food frozen longer during a power outage.
  • Label items in the freezer so that you can identify them quickly. Know what you are going to get before opening the freezer door.


  • Preheating the oven only takes 10 minutes. Unless you are baking breads or cakes, you may not even need to preheat the oven at all.
  • Keep oven doors closed and pan lids on! Just peeking in the oven causes the temperature to drop between 25 and 50F.
  • Make sure the oven door closes and seals properly.
  • Turn off the oven a few minutes before the full cook time has elapsed. Retained heat will finish the cooking process.
  • Glass and ceramic pans heat more efficiently than metal. Lower the oven temperature by 25F, but keep the same cooking time.
  • Use a toaster oven or microwave when cooking small quantities. Baking a single potato in an electric oven costs 10-cents; 5-cents in a toaster oven; 2-cents in a microwave.
  • Ovens work most efficiently when the air inside circulates freely. Unless absolutely necessary, don‚Äôt lay foil on oven racks. Stagger multiple pans, allowing at least one inch of space on all sides.
  • If you use the self-clean function on the oven, do so while the oven is still warm from cooking. The oven can reach an energy-intensive 850¬∞F in self-cleaning mode. Use the feature sparingly.
  • Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean.
  • As soon as water boils, turn the heat down. Boiling is as hot as water gets. A lower heat will maintain the boil.
  • On gas stovetops, fit the flame to the pan, and the pan to the task. On electric ranges, use flat-bottomed pans that make full contact with the surface.
  • Copper and copper-bottomed pans heat quickly, saving you money.
  • Stovetop flames should be blue. A yellow flame may indicate the inefficient burning of gas, which is a problem that costs you money every time you cook.
  • When at all possible, use a pressure cooker to reduce cooking times and energy use by 50% or more.


  • Air-dry dishes instead of using the drying heater in your dishwasher. Both dry your dishes, but air-drying is free.
  • Wait until your dishwasher is full before turning it on.  A full dishwasher is more efficient.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions when loading the dishwasher. The spraying action of the dishwasher works in tandem with how the dishwasher is loaded to clean dishes effectively.
  • Minimize pre-rinsing, especially with new dishwashers.
  • Use a lighter wash cycle for lightly soiled dishes.
  • Use the recommended amount of detergent in your dishwasher to avoid excess suds, extra rinsing, and not-quite-clean dishes.


  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use. It can save as much as $100 per year in electricity costs.
  • Unplug laptops once they are charged.
  • Turn on sleep mode on your computer.
  • Screen savers can be entertaining, but they don't save energy. The best way to save energy is to turn the monitor off when you're done.


  • Position the waterbed away from exterior walls. Cold air that passes through the walls forces your waterbed heater to work harder.
  • Make the bed! Covers reduce heat loss by as much as 30% and save you up to $25 per year.
  • Adjust the temperature of your waterbed to the lowest comfortable setting.

Energy Star appliances

Buying new appliances? Consider the long-term value of ENERGY STAR models. ENERGY STAR appliances do more with less. They outperform competing models, save you money on your utility bills, and are better for the environment. 

Many manufacturers offer incentives and rebates when you purchase ENERGY STAR products. Efficiency Vermont, our statewide energy-efficiency utility, also offers financial incentives and rebates, financing, technical assistance, and project management for energy-efficient products and services.

Thinking of buying a new washer or refrigerator? Give Efficiency Vermont a call, toll-free at 1-888-921-5990, to learn about the energy-efficiency services available to you.