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Summer Energy and Money Saving Ideas
 
In this section, you'll find both energy conservation and efficiency tips for your home. You'll learn how to get your home ready for summer or winter. Many of these tips are do-it-yourself with minimal costs and maximum results. Using natural gas for what it does best - heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying provides you with comfort and convenience while making a positive environmental impact.
 
Home Cooling
Water Heating
Cooking
Clothes Drying
Natural Gas Fireplaces
Natural Gas Patio Heaters
Natural Gas Barbecues
Pool & Spas
Windows
Home Office
Carbon and Energy Calculators
Source List
 

Home Cooling

  • During the summer, adjust the temperature 1 ° -2 ° per week to a higher setting, allowing your body to adjust to the new temperature. Raising the temperature just a couple of degrees can cut your cooling costs by as much as five percent. Start by setting your air conditioner thermostat to 78°F or higher - health permitting - when you're at home.
  • Set your air conditioner thermostat at 85°F when you are away from home.
  • Install a programmable thermostat and set it to accurately follow your schedule.
  • Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.
  • Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when operated at night if the outside air is cooler than the inside.
  • Use drapes, shutters, awnings, shade trees, glass with reflective film, or solar screens to keep sunlight out in the summer.
  • Plant shade trees on the south, east, and/or west sides of your home. Be sure to shade your air conditioning unit with trees or shrubs, but do not block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
  • During the hot months, keep window coverings closed on the south, east, and west windows.
  • Keep in mind that insulation and sealing air leaks will help your home's energy performance in the summertime by keeping the cool air inside. Seal leaks around doors, windows, and other openings, such as pipes or ducts, with caulking or weather-stripping. Plug gaps around pipes, fans, and vents that go through exterior walls, ceilings, and floors from heated to unheated spaces.
  • Install exterior wall switch and outlet gaskets to prevent air loss and infiltration.
  • Keep cooling supply and return registers clean and unobstructed by furniture or draperies.
  • Replace or clean air filters monthly during high operating seasons and a minimum of four times a year. Equipment consumes less energy if it "breathes."

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Water Heating

  • Set your water heater thermostat at the lowest temperature that provides you with sufficient hot water. For most households, 120°F water is fine (usually about mid-way between "medium" and "low" settings). If you have a dishwasher, check to see if you can use 120°F water. Follow the manufacturer's directions.
  • Install showerheads and faucets with low-flow water restrictors.
  • The average household uses 15-25 gallons of hot water for a bath. A 5-minute shower uses 10 gallons or less, but most sources agree that the average American showers from 7.5 to 10.4 minutes. It may be helpful to determine the flow rate of your shower to know whether a bath or a shower is more energy efficient.
  • Insulate pipes that run through unheated areas to limit heat loss.
  • Use cold or warm wash and the cold rinse option on your washing machine.
  • Only operate dishwashers and clothes washers when they are fully loaded.
  • Limit use of the "rinse hold" setting on your dishwasher. This feature uses up to seven gallons of hot water for each use.
  • If your water heater is over 15 years old it could begin to leak. Consider replacing it with a new gas water heater that has an Energy Factor (EF) rating of .62 or better.
  • When replacing your clothes washer, front-loading washers use less water and energy than standard top-loading models. When replacing a natural gas appliance always look for the ENERGY STAR® rated or high efficiency appliances. For a list of appliance and referral dealers or call the Energy Specialists at 1-800-654-2765.
  • To compare fuel costs and water heater types.

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Cooking

  • Place lids tightly on pans to speed cooking time.
  • Use pots and pans that fit the burners. Pans that fit a burner absorb more of the energy, reducing the amount of heat lost.
  • Keep oven and burners clean. A clean oven uses energy more efficiently.
  • Use glass or ceramic pans in your oven. You can turn down the temperature about 25 degrees and foods will cook just as quickly.
  • Keep oven door closed while baking to prevent heat loss. With each opening the oven loses about 20 percent of its heat.
  • Preheat your oven only if the recipe calls for it.
  • It doesn't take as much energy to reheat the food as it does to cook it. So cook double portions when using your oven, and refrigerate or freeze half for another meal. This will also save you preparation time!

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Clothes Drying

  • Dry full loads, but don't overload.
  • Separate lightweight and heavy clothes for more energy-efficient drying.
  • Clean the lint filter before drying each load. Cleaning your lint filter regularly will help your clothes dry faster.
  • Dry two or more loads in a row to take advantage of the heat still in the dryer.
  • Periodically remove any buildup of lint and dust from the dryer exhaust, the back of the dryer, and behind the lint screen.
  • Be sure the dryer's exhaust duct is connected properly to the outside terminal, using the straightest and shortest duct possible. (Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material, as plastic vents may collapse and cause blockages.)

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Natural Gas Fireplaces

  • Consider installing high-efficiency natural gas fireplace inserts or freestanding stoves.
  • If your fireplace doesn't have glass doors, consider having a set installed to help keep warm air in the house. NOTE: Glass doors require proper venting.
  • Run your natural gas logs only when you're in the room to enjoy them.
  • Close fireplace dampers, if possible, when not in use.

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Natural Gas Patio Heaters

  • Natural gas patio heaters utilize radiant heat, warming objects, instead of the surrounding air.
  • A patio heater's efficiency is affected by the wind; consider a sheltered area for installation, accommodating manufacturer's required clearances. When mounted along a wall or in eaves, directional gas patio heaters are less affected by wind.

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Natural Gas Barbecues

  • To reduce cooking time, choose foods with comparable cooking times and keep the lid closed as much as possible.
  • Grill more than one meal at a time and freeze for future use.
  • Use your barbecue or grill in the summer to keep your kitchen cool.

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Pool & Spas

  • Keep your spa or pool covered when not in use. Well-fitted pool and spa covers minimize nighttime heat loss as well as prevent chemical loss and water evaporation.
  • To help maintain pool heating and equipment efficiency, schedule an annual inspection and deliming of the heat exchanger.
  • Check with your pool service technician to determine the minimum number of hours required to run pool filtering and cleaning systems.

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Windows

  • A window's ability to insulate is given by its U-value. The lower the U-value, the more efficient the window.
  • Look for the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) label as your guide to window energy performance.
  • Consider Energy Star®-qualified windows, they can help save up to 15% on your cooling costs.
  • Look for windows with energy saving features such as: low-e coating, double panes, and vinyl or fiberglass frames.
  • To ensure that your new windows perform as well as they should, hire a skilled contractor to install them.

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Home Office

  • Activate "sleep" features on computers and office equipment that power down when not in use for a while. Turn off equipment during longer periods of non-use to cut energy costs and improve longevity.
  • Replace halogen torchiere lamps with fluorescent ENERGY STAR® torchieres.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when purchasing home office equipment, like computers, monitors, printers, scanners, and fax machines. ENERGY STAR® personal computers, monitors, and printers power down during periods of inactivity, reducing energy costs by up to 50%, 90%, and 65% respectively.

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Carbon and Energy Calculators

You see the term "carbon footprint" everywhere these days. Carbon footprint is the term used for the carbon emissions produced by our everyday activities.

Being aware of some of the things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint helps you save energy and money and helps to protect the environment.

This calculator allows you to compare what your carbon footprint would be using natural gas appliances in your home versus using electric appliances.

This calculator allows you to calculate your yearly energy costs and projected savings with energy saving upgrades.

 
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For more information on home energy efficiency or high-efficiency natural gas appliances, contact the Energy Specialists at 1-800-654-2765 or
For Manufacturers' and other SPECIAL OFFERS.

Source List
Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, www.eere.energy.gov
ENERGY STAR®, www.energystar.gov
Energy Use, Typical Home Source, www.eia.doe.gov
U.S. Department of Energy, www.energysavers.gov/tips/
National Fenestration Rating Council, www.nfrc.org
The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, www.apsp.org
American Council for Energy Efficient Economy, www.aceee.org
Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, 9th Edition, Jennifer Thorne Amann, Alex Wilson, and Katie Ackerly
 
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The actual energy savings obtained in each instance depends on various factors, including geographic location, weather conditions, equipment installed, usage rates, and so forth. Completing multiple energy saving measures will not necessarily result in cumulative savings.
 
 
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