Smart Space Do it Yourself Tips for Energy Efficiency

LED light bulbs: Lighting accounts for close to 20 percent of the average home’s electric bill. LEDs use up to 75 percent less energy (electricity) than incandescent light bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an LED, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes. LEDs are more expensive then CFLs but last longer and are dimmable and if you buy 2700K (Kelvin) they closely match an incandescent light bulb. Kelvin is the light tone. 5000 Kelvin is the brightest. The LEDs must also match your dimmer switches or they might not function correctly (hum or not turn off). It is important to recycle CFLs to prevent the release of mercury into the environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when thrown into a dumpster, trash can or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator they will leak small amounts of mercury.

 Temperature settings and controls: Install programmable thermostats. Keep your home at or below 68° F and lower heating thermostat 10° F at night and when home is unoccupied. Close fireplace damper when fireplace is not in use. Lower water heater thermostats to 120° F.

Air Filters: Replace furnace air filters regularly. Check your filter every month, especially during winter and summer months, when use tends to be heavier. Change filter if it is dirty or at least every three months.

Water: Modern faucets and showerheads use 40-50% less water than those made before 1995. Consider installing a low flow or dual flush toilets. Water heating can account for nearly a quarter of the energy consumed in your home. For central hot water/radiant heat, have your boiler inspected and cleaned regularly. Oil burning equipment should be checked yearly, gas equipment every other year. Check for toilet leaks by placing food coloring in the tank. If color appears in the bowl without flushing than you have a leak. One leak can be up to 20 gallons a day.

Lawn and Garden: A typical family of four uses roughly 30% of water maintaining the yard. Apply a layer of mulch to reduce evaporation. Harvest rainwater for your garden and yard use. Water your lawn at dawn, rather than at night, to avoid water loss through evaporation and to prevent mold. Incorporate xeriscaping by designing a lawn that conserves water and choose indigenous plants.

Appliances: Replacing your appliances with new Energy Star rated appliances (when they need replacing) will help reduce the base load energy usage of your home. Base load is the minimum amount of electrical power that is required constantly in your home. By increasing the efficiency of appliances that are used constantly, the base load of your home will be lowered. A washing machine that does not qualify for an energy star rating can use 17 more gallons of water with every load of laundry.

HVAC: An estimated 40% of home energy use is for space heating. If your heating system is not working efficiently, as much as 30% to 50% of this energy is wasted. It is important to check, service, and replace old systems.

Home energy monitor:  It is a digital display showing your electricity consumption in real time. The actual consumption is displayed on the LCD screen which you can put in any room you like. They will show you your consumption in watts, as well as in monetary terms.


The following chart shows the difference in average efficiencies between gas and oil-fired central heating units. The numbers represent combustion efficiencies-how much useable heat is produced as opposed to what goes up the chimney-not distribution losses-heat loss from ducts or pipes.

Gas-Fired                                               Oil-Fired

Variable-Speed Furnace


Condensing Furnace/Boiler(plastic vent pipes)


Condensing Furnace/Boiler(plastic vent pipes)


Furnace/Boiler with flame retention burner-well tuned


Standard Furnace5-10 years old


Furnace/Boiler with flame retention burner- not maintained


Standard Furnace20+ years old


Standard Furnace