Energy Efficiency & Conservation
  • 1. Light Right

    The average household spends nearly $200 on lighting every year, with much of the cost owing to the few lights that are on the most. So switching those frequently used bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is the place to start.

    Find the 10 lights you use most, and the lights you use at least one hour per day, and make the change.

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  • 2. Warm Water Well

    Water heating costs the average Virginia household around $250 per year. That water heater tank hidden in your closet or down in your basement is working non-stop to keep the water warm and to heat up the cold water that refills it after each use. You don't need to switch to cold showers to save money -- you can reduce your costs greatly by taking a handful of simple steps.

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  • 3. Program Your Comfort

    Heating and cooling costs the average Virginia household about $900 per year --the largest single component of your utility bill. Instead of leaving your heat or air conditioning on full blast when you're not home, install a programmable thermostat for your system. 

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  • 4. Add a Blanket

    Upgrading your attic insulation can dramatically reduce your heating and air conditioning costs, improve the value of your home, and add to your day-to-day comfort. While this project may cost you $200 or more, once it's in place it will allow you to save money on your energy bills for the life of your home.

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  • 5. Put a Hat on It

    In most homes, the attic door or hatch, is a framed plywood square in the ceiling of a hallway or bedroom, with no insulation above it. Without insulation, it is like having an open door to the outside or an open fireplace flue.

    The good news is, it's easy to fix this problem: simply apply a piece of insulated foam board to the back of the door or hatch and add weatherstripping to the frame.

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  • 6. Defeat Drafts

    The outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors and floor make up the "thermal envelope" of your house. Any gaps or holes in this envelope allow the conditioned or heated air inside your house to escape. When you add up all the small gaps, holes, cracks, and leaks, it's often the equivalent of leaving a couple of windows wide open-- all the time.

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  • 7. Go with the (Air) Flow

    Periodically replacing your air filter will significantly improve your heating and cooling system's performance. When the filter is dirty, the fan uses more energy to force the air through. When the filter gets too clogged, the whole system can shut down --triggering the need for professional services that could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

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  • 9. Dial It Back a Notch

    Your appliances are wonderful modern conveniences -- but they cost the average Virginia household over $200 per year to operate. You can save 10% or more on these costs through two easy steps, without any appreciable effect on your day-to-day lifestyle or comfort.

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  • 10. Kill the "Phantoms"

    Electronics and miscellaneous appliances are the second largest category of home electricity usage -- nearly $300 for the average household. Some experts estimate that up to 75% of these costs are for "phantom power" -- situations where these devices are using electricity even when you think they are "off." Often (but not always) that little green light that is still glowing is a tip-off.

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Switch to CFLs or LEDs

The average household spends nearly $200 on lighting every year, with much of the cost owing to the few lights that are on the most. So switching those frequently used bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is the place to start: find the 10 lights you use most, and the lights you use at least one hour per day, and make the change.

About CFLs

CFLs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, last up to 10 times longer, are reasonably priced, and provide a quick return on investment.CFLs also generate 80-90% less heat than regular bulbs, which will help to reduce your cooling costs.

According to Energy Star, if every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an Energy Star qualified CFL, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 800,000 cars. And while CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury that could ultimately end up in the environment, that amount is significantly less than the amount of mercury avoided as a result of the energy savings. More from Energy Star on CFLs and Mercury.

About LEDs

LEDs have similar energy savings to CFLs, but even longer lifetimes, lasting up to 25 times longer than incandescents. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that rapid adoption of LED lighting in the U.S. over the next 20 years can:

  • Deliver savings of about $265 billion.
  • Avoid 40 new power plants.
  • Reduce lighting electricity demand by 33% in 2027

LEDs offer several conveniences to homeowners. LEDs are available with dimming and automatic daylight shut-off features, do not break like bulbs, last up to 22 years based on average household use and produce very little heat, reducing cooling costs.

Choosing the Right Bulb

CFLs fit a wide range of standard light sockets and are available in various hues, such as "soft white." They're also available in candelabra styles, dimmable, 3-way bulbs, and even outdoor flood light varieties. Follow this link to view EnergyStar's "How to Choose" guide to help determine which bulb is right for your fixture. LEDs are most commonly available as recessed lighting fixtures and replacement bulbs. There are many indoor and outdoor LED lighting options.

This diagram from EnergyStar shows how LED lighting uses both light and energy more efficiently than incadescent and fluorescent bulbs.

 

Recycling & Disposal

CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury and should be carefully disposed of--instead of being thrown out with the trash. Most bulb packages contain safe handling and disposal instructions on the side of the carton--which advises broken bulbs to be placed in a sealed bag and dropped off at designated recycling centers or to retailers that offer collection services (such as Home Depot).

Read more in the Energy Star CFL disposal guide or on this great post titled: 5 Ways to Dispose of Old CFLs

LEDs are non-toxic and long-lasting, so disposal is less of an environmental concern. We recommend contacting your local recycling program to find out the safest way to recycle LED lights in your area.

Video: How to Install a Motion Sensor on Your Lights

Another way to reduce lighting costs is to install a motion sensor -- this will minimize the chance that a light is left on.

 

 
 
 

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