Advice for Residents

What You Can Do to Lower Your Energy Bills

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In the Kitchen

  • Consider at least one day a week when you don’t serve meat. Eating meat, in particular beef, is more expensive and also has much more carbon impact than grains and vegetables.  This is a way for you personally to address address the 10% of US GHG emissions that come from agriculture, predominantly animal agriculture.  You may find that you don’t miss eating meat as much as you expect!
  • Use as little water as you can when you boil pasta (if you’re really adventurous, you can use no water, and cook your pasta in simmering sauce!). Also, you can put the pasta in while the water is cold.  This can save hundreds of gallons of water in your house over the year, and a few dollars on your utility bill.
  • Try to steam veggies and potatoes instead of boiling them: less water, less energy, less time, and it’s healthier!
  • Minimize oven-on time: Turn on the oven just 10 minutes before you need it, and turn off the oven 10 minutes before the cooking time is up.
  • Only run the vent fan when the stove is on – it is pulling outside air into your house and wasting your heating and cooling dollars.
  • Consider switching from gas to electric appliances to minimize fossil fuel use and lessen indoor pollution. Read this NY Times article about the “perils of cooking with gas”.


Under Your Sinks and More

  • A huge energy loss is the air leakage in and out of the home. Look under each of your sinks at where the plumbing exits the cavity.  If there is a small gap, fill with caulk.  If there is a large gap, fill with foam (“Great Stuff” works well).  Do the same behind all toilets.
  • Look for cracks along window frames and door frames and caulk those.
  • Look up at the rings around inset light fixtures and caulk any gaps.
  • Consider foam liners (sold at hardware stores) for electrical switch and plug covers.


In the Laundry Room

  • Wash in cold water whenever possible.
  • Hang dry anything you can.
  • Pull clothes that you are going to hang up, out of the dryer after 10 minutes of tumbling. Saves energy, lengthens life of clothes, and minimizes wrinkles (avoids ironing).
  • Clean the lint off your dryer filter with every load to keep it running efficiently. Once a year, check the vent where the dryer air duct exits the house to make sure it has full air flow and isn’t blocked with lint.



  • Turn the TV off when no one is watching.
  • If you have a printer, turn it off when no one is using it. Keep computer monitor and speakers off when unused.
  • Turn lights off when you leave a room.
  • Replace any light bulbs with LED that you can. In particular, if you put up holiday lights, try to use only LED.
  • Unplug rarely-used kitchen appliances when not used (blender, food processor, toaster).
  • Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees.
  • Use low-energy settings on your dishwasher – don’t use heated dry or super-heated wash.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door closes all the way.
  • Vacuum the lint off your refrigerator coils every 6-12 months to keep it running efficiently.
  • Consider timers on lights, especially holiday lights, to make sure the on-time is limited.
  • If you have kids and they are leaving appliances or lights on, a great motivator can be – offer to pay them the difference in the utility bill for this month from the same month last year. If they save you energy – they get to keep the savings!


Air Conditioning and Heating

  • Go and look at the flexible air ducts in your crawl space, basement or attic. Are there cracks or holes?  If so, seal with mastic tape or buy new ducts.
  • If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to minimal values at night (hot in the summer, cool in the winter). Set it to same minimal values when no one will be home.
  • If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, remember to turn down the settings at night and when you leave the house.
  • Consider a whole-house fan. You can use this in the summer to suck hot air out of the house during the night, bring in cool air, and lessen your need for air-conditioning.
  • Set a goal for number of months you can leave the heating and A/C off in the fall and spring.
  • Never leave the windows open while A/C is running.
  • Change the filter for your HVAC at least annually; check it every six months.
  • If possible, use ceiling fans to help cool in the summer; you can make them more efficient by setting them to blow down in the summer and up at low speed in the winter.
  • You can try using a space heater to give you local heat instead of heating the whole house.
  • Try an electric blanket to stay warm at night, which will let you set the house temperature way down.
  • Make sure you are dressing for the season even when inside – warm clothes in winter and light clothes in summer.


Your Car

  • Combine trips and errands. Your car uses by far the most fuel in the first mile.  If you can combine trips (say, have one 10-mile trip to accomplish all errands while the car is warmed up, rather than five 2-mile drives where the car is starting cold each time), then your driving will be much more efficient.
  • See if your kids can ride bikes to school rather than being driven. If you have to drive somewhere, try to carpool and have a full car.
  • Make sure your tires are fully inflated. Slightly soft tires cost you a lot at the gas pump.
  • Try to avoid using A/C in car, or at least have it set to a moderate value.
  • Make sure you aren’t hauling around a lot of excess weight in your car (like sandbags or heavy hardware left in the trunk).
  • Ride a bike anywhere you can.
  • If you have a way to work from home 1 or 2 days a week, do that instead of driving.


Outside Things

  • To save money on fuel, try to rake leaves instead of using a blower.
  • Try out a push mower for the lawn instead of gas-powered.
  • Update your lawn mower, or share the neighbor’s (it’s more efficient when it’s warmed up!)
  • Or, try and eliminate the lawn mower entirely by going to native ground cover instead of grass.

This pie chart shows how energy is used in an average home.  Because heating and cooling are so much of the total, it is important to seal gaps and make your heating and cooling system as efficient as possible.