Lower Energy Use

Lowering our energy use at home and work is one of the best ways that we can contribute to lowering carbon emissions.Below are some things that you can do in your daily life to reduce energy usage.


Unplug appliances when not in use

The electricity that is used when electronic devices are turned off or in standby mode is called the phantom load. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says that in the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Phantom loads account for about 10 percent of all national residential electricity consumption. You can eliminate phantom loads by unplugging appliances and electronics when you are not using them or plugging multiple devices into a power strip and then turning off the power strip when devices are not in use. 


Use more energy-efficient appliances

In a typical U.S. home, appliances & electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills. When shopping for new appliances, make sure you buy appliances with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star label. Energy Star appliances use between 10 and 50 percent less energy and water than their conventional counterparts. They may cost more than appliances without the Energy Star designation, but in most cases they will more than make up that additional cost through energy savings. According to the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of trees.


The following tips will help reduce the energy used from electronics and appliances: 

  • Locate refrigerators and freezers away from stoves, dishwashers or heat vents and make sure they are not exposed to direct sunlight because this type of exposure will force them to use more energy to remain cool  
  • Shut computers off when not in use. If you must leave unattended computers on, make sure that their monitors are turned off. According to some studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all energy consumption in the United States. Note that laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop models
  • Unplug chargers for laptops and cell phones, etc. because they consume energy when they are plugged in.
  • Replace your incandescent bulbs: Lighting makes up about 10 percent of home energy costs.  You can save a majority of those costs if you replace your incandescent bulbs with LEDs Lights or compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL).  See the attached comparison of LED Lights vs. Incandescent Light Bulbs vs. CFLs to see just how much energy you can save.
  • Install a programmable thermostat: Programmable thermostats automatically adjust the temperature in your home based on the schedule that you set (i.e. lowering the temperature at night, or while at work).  If you are not already manually adjusting your thermostat throughout the day, a programmable thermostat can save as much as 15 percent on heating and cooling costs.
  • Wash clothes more efficiently:
    • Energy-efficient washing and drying is one simple way that you can help to save on energy costs.
    • Do full loads of wash
    • Wash in cold water for all loads except diapers or clothes that are very soiled. Heating up water accounts for the majority of energy used by washing machines
    • Clean the lint trap every time you use the dryer to eliminate a fire hazard and speed up the time required for clothes to dry
    • Air-dry your clothes on lines and racks when possible
    • Spin dry or wring out clothes before putting them in the dryer.


Conserve Water

Conserving water not only saves water but also saves energy. The Department of Energy (DOE) ranks heating water as the third most energy consuming function in your home.  

Here are some things that you can do to cut down on water use in your home:

  • Take faster showers
  • Lower your water temperature - the DOE says a water thermostat setting of 120 degrees is sufficient for most uses
  • Be conscious of the water you use when washing dishes and clothes and preparing food.

It costs relatively little to replace some of the small fixtures in your home. Low-flow shower heads use 30 percent less water than conventional shower heads and some even shut off when the bather is lathering up.  Conventional faucets use up to 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) while bathroom-sink faucets are available that only use 1.5 gpm.


Replacing water heaters, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines are much more costly but can have big long-term payoffs.

Tankless water heaters provide hot water only as needed, so they save energy. They heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. The water heater then delivers a constant supply of hot water because you do not have to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.

Low-flow toilets consume considerably less water than traditional toilets. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can reduce usage an average of 2 gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water per year.

Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste and can reduce daily toilet-water use from about 20 gallons to about 4 gallons per person.

Dishwashers and washing machines with the Energy Star label are certified to be more energy efficient.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s WaterSense Program has information to help the public purchase more water efficient fixtures and appliances.  WaterSense-certified products use about 20 percent less water but have the same performance standards as their conventional counterparts.  

According to the WaterSense website, “American public water supply and treatment facilities consume about 56 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year — enough electricity to power 5 million homes for an entire year….if one out of every 100 American homes retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, we could save about 100 million kWh of electricity per year — avoiding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.” Conserving water also helps maintain proper water levels in rivers, lakes and reservoirs, promoting healthier people and healthier ecosystems.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

Planting shade trees and shrubs around your home can lower your summer energy bill by reducing your home’s exposure to the sun.  If shrubs and trees are planted 1 foot away from your home, the dead airspace creates a shield against both hot & cold outdoor temperatures. Energy savings from trees varies greatly depending on the type of tree, their size and their location in relation to your home. Click here for more information on the right trees in the right places.